Smart, agile and more sure-footed than any horse, a good riding mule has been the choice of hunters, lawmen, circuit riders and bandits.
People who breed animals seldom think of the act as a fun thing. They have passed that stage of peurile thinking. Mules are bred because they are larger than donkeys and so as pack animals are able to cope with rougher terrain.
Mules are renowned for their health, strength and longevity. The fact that they are sterile is a secondary consideration.
Mules have advantages over both parent species. Horses are larger and faster than donkeys, but they are very delicate animals and have to be taken great care of in terms of diet, housing, grooming etc.
They can be temperamental and even vicious. They were the animal of choice for long distance travel in pre-motor days. Donkeys have great endurance and are much less finicky about their diet and living conditions. Usually they are aimiable and patient by nature, often too much so for their own good.
They are much cheaper to keep than a horse. Their smaller hooves are better at picking the way in rough terrain. They are also longer lived than horses (the saying in the middle east is that they live forever - because you never see a dead one, do you?). But they are comparatively small and slow moving, and hard to train to pull a vehicle.
Riding a donkey is possible for a short distance, even for an adult, but a long journey on donkey-back is not really feasible. Mules have inherited the best qualities of both, being larger and faster-moving than donkeys but less picky about food and stabling than horses, and cheaper to keep. They will pull a cart or carry packs across their backs, and can be ridden. In the medieval period churchmen were supposed only to ride mules rather than horses as a sign of humility, and special riding mules were bred and trained for senior churchmen.
By reputation they are stubborn and bad tempered, but the few I have known were quite even-tempered. Unfortunately they are sterile so to breed them you have to start again from the original horse/donkey pairing. Fortunately horses and donkeys usually like one another!
1. Mules live longer than horses.
2. Mules have more stamina and endurance than a horse (hybrid vigor).
3. Mules are more sure-footed than your average horses.
4. By and large, they are more intelligent than horses.
5. Pound for pound, a mule is stronger than a horse.
6. Mules typically eat less than horses.
7. Mules have a much greater sense of self-preservation. They are always aware of their surroundings.
8. Mules are healthier in general and more durable than horses.
9. A mule’s feet are very hard and tough, and they usually do not require shoes in most conditions.
10. Mules have more character. (Horse folks will argue with that).