What Is A Mule & How Are They Different From Hinnies?

Mules are really common animals to see being used for trail riding, as pack animals or even just backyard pets. They are known for their great strength, stubbornness, and expressive personalities. But what makes a mule a mule? And how are mules and hinnies different?

What Is A Mule?

A mule is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse. The horse can be virtually any breed, but some of the most common crosses are Quarter Horses, Mustangs, and Appaloosas. In order for a mule to be considered a mule, the mother MUST be a horse and the sire MUST be a donkey.

What Is A Hinny?

A hinny is a cross between a female donkey and a male horse. The horse, like when looking at mules, can be any breed, but there are popular breeds like the Quarter Horse, Mustang, and Appaloosa that are used most popularly than others. In order for a hinny to be considered a true hinny, the mother MUST be a donkey and the sire MUST be a horse.

Do Mules & Hinnies Differ In Appearance?

Yes, mules and hinnies do differ in appearance, but only slightly.

Mules are usually seen with a fuller tail than that of hinnies. Because donkeys don’t have much of a tail, mules get their longer tail from horses. The body of a mule is similar to that of a horse in size and conformation. The only main difference being is that, because of their donkey genetics, there usually aren’t very prevalent withers seen on these animals. Mules carry the donkeys short, stocky legs and very long ears. Mules, though they have a decent tail, their main is often thin. They also bray like a donkey would though the sound is a lot deeper.

Hinnies are built smaller and lighter than mules are. They carry the longer slender legs of a horse, but the smaller narrow body of a donkey. The ears of a hinny can be slightly smaller than those of mules and their tail isn’t as full. Though the hinny doesn’t have a full tail, they are sometimes seen with a full mane. Hinnies look a lot more like horses than mules do. This can be partly credited to their narrower build and having extremities that appear more horse-like than donkey-like. Some hinnies look so much like horses that they are only able to be identified by their longer ears.

Can There Be Miniature Mules & Hinnies?

Yes there can be! Some Miniature Horses, Shetland Ponies, and Falabellas are bred with small Burros and Mini Donkeys to achieve miniature hinnies and mules.

These miniature hinnies and mules carry much of the same traits as normal hinnies and mules.

How Do The Personalities Of Mules & Hinnies Differ?


Hinnies have a more similar personality to donkeys than horses. Surprisingly however, hinnies are quieter, calmer, less curious, less independent, and less adventurous than mules making them a potentially better choice as a pet and riding animal than a mule.


Mules are bossy, independent, curious, and adventurous animals that make really popular pack and trail animals. Mules are more pushy and require a more experienced confident hand to control them and keep them responsive and listening.

Are Hinnies Smaller Than Mules?

Yes. Hinnies are usually smaller than mules. The reason for this is because female donkeys are much smaller than female horses making their offspring much smaller. The only exception to this is if a draft breed is mixed into the bloodline. Another reason for this is because female donkeys are smaller and their foal will only grow to the size where it can fit in their mother’s uterus resulting in a smaller foal.

Are Hinnies Or Mules More Popular? Why?

Mules are more popular than hinnies for a few reasons. One main reason would be that mules are stronger than hinnies. This is because of their short stocky legs that are stronger than a hinny’s legs and their bulkier build. Breeding hinnies is a lot more tedious because the resulting offspring isn’t as predictable than when breeding mules.

Can Hinnies & Mules Mate?

Yes, hinnies and mules can mate, but unfortunately, both are sterile. This means that their semen and can’t produce any offspring. Because of this, male mules and hinnies are usually castrated to lower their testosterone level and make them less temperamental and easier to handle.

It has not been heard of for hinnies or mules to have offspring.

What Is The Average Lifespan Of These Animals?


The average life span for a hinny is around 27 to 35 years. These animals are really hardy and can live well into their forties in some cases. Usually, the lifespan for these animals is in between the average horse and the average donkey.


Like the hinny, mules can live to be between 27 and 35 though some are known to age into their forties if in good health and care. Like hinnies, mules have an average lifespan in between horses and donkeys.

What Do Both The Hinny & The Mule Excel In?

General Riding

Mules and hinnies are most popularly used as general riding animals. Because they are strong animals, they can carry heavier riders making them good for both children and adults. Though western is more popular for these animals to be ridden in, some are used in English riding for pleasure or general riding. There are even some Mules known to do dressage!


Being pack animals is what these animals are commonly used for. An example of this would be the use of mules and hinnies as pack and trail animals at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. There are long trails of mules and hinnies used to carry hikers and supplies up and down out and into the canyon.

Trail Riding

Because these animals are hardy and strong, trail riding is something they are very good at. They love being in the wilderness and because of the adventurous side the mule has, their new surroundings make them love to participate in these activities.

What Colors Can A Mule Or Hinny Be?

Mules and hinnies can be literally any color under the sun becasue they can bre crossed with any horse breed out there.

Thesy can be:

  • Bay
  • Black
  • Chestnut
  • Gray
  • Albino
  • Cremello
  • Perlino
  • Overo
  • Tovero
  • Tobiano
  • Spotted
  • Piebald
  • Skewbald
  • Palomino
  • Buckskin
  • Dun
  • Grullo

Hailey Sipila

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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