Hinny vs. Mule – What is the Difference?

As a horse lover and equestrian practitioner, you must be wondering what the difference between a hinny vs. mule is. The two animals came to be after conducting various experiments to create the perfect breed. But, whether you like them for appearance or any other reason, the history of equine hybrids never seems to end.

While these two animals almost look the same, they differ in multiple ways. Typically, they are produced by breeding a horse and a donkey. Unlike their parents, they tend to be resistant to harsh weather and live long.

With that in mind, what’s the difference between a hinny and a mule? Well, we’re here to give you a helping hoof!

Without further delay, let’s dig in to find out!

hinny and mule

How is a Mule Different from a Horse?

The equine world is made of different animal breeds. And among them are horses and mules. The two have a lot of advantages, but many people fail to spot the difference between a hinny vs. a mule. First of all, their history is closely tied together but contains its unique origins and paths.

Furthermore, mules cannot bear their offspring between themselves as they are infertile. Unlike horses, hinnies and mules are sixty inches and also come in various sizes. The muscles of a mule are arranged differently than that of a donkey and are smoother than that of horses.

What is a Mule?

A mule is the most common and oldest known offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. Its thick head, long ears, thin limbs, short mane, and narrow hooves are well recognized. In addition, a mule makes a sound that resembles that of a donkey and whinnying characteristics of a horse.

It exists in a variety of colors and weighs about 454 kilograms (1000 pounds). Apart from that, it displays the best traits from each parent, commonly known as hybrid vigor. The features inherited include strength, patience, intelligence, endurance,  perseverance, and endurance.


What is a Hinny?

A hinny is an offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. It has diminutive stature, strong legs, short ears, and a thick body. Unfortunately, a hinny is pretty hard to obtain, primarily when the number of chromosomes in a donkey and a horse differs. Thus an incomplete reproductive system ensues.

Hinnies vary in size depending on the parents. Generally, the size ranges between 91-172 centimeters (36-68 inches). Hinnies are slower and more meticulous movers than the mule, as they inherited traits from the jennet. This makes them good in steep and rocky terrain. 


The History of Mules in the USA

Man bred the mule in ancient times. This came to be after a male donkey commonly known as Jackass was bred with a female horse. Furthermore, a female donkey was bred with a male horse to produce a unique hinny hybrid.

The first people to breed mules were the inhabitants of the southern and northern parts of modern-day Turkey. Since that time before 3000BC, the pharaohs sent the expeditions to mine for turquoise in Simal. The minors used a mule to mark their routes in the middle ages as mules were common in European cities before the Renaissance. 

By the 18th century, breeding Mules became a widespread and productive industry in different parts of the world. And in the new world, Christopher Columbus introduced four jack donkeys and two jenny donkeys, together with horses. These animals were responsible for producing mules to aid in the exploration of the American mainland.

As a result, they started developing in the USA, and George Washington majorly influenced the development. Moreover, he was the first person to recognize the use of mules in agriculture, thus the first American breeder. As the existing donkeys were relatively small, he requested the king of Spain to allow him to purchase good quality breeding stock.

After getting the folk, he bred and came up with the best quality. However, this was interrupted by war. He later started a program to aid in developing a more robust and larger mule to be used in farming. Later on, the number of mules increased.

Donkey VS. Mule Size Chart

Donkeys and mules are incredible animals used for different purposes, such as riding or as pets. However, they contain come in different sizes. From the chart below, you’ll get to understand how the sizes vary.


Division by size rather than breed is due to unclear ancestry in the New World. Donkeys were turned loose by explorers and interbred.

  • Miniature – 36 inches or less at the withers.
  • Small Standard –  36.01 to 40 inches.
  • Standard – 40.01 to 48 inches.
  • Large Standard – 48.01 to 56 inches for Jacks and 48.01 to 54 inches for jennets.
  • Mammoth – 54.01 inches and above for both jacks and jennets.


  • Miniature – 50 inches or less.
  • Saddle Mule – 50 inches and above.
  • Draft – Bred from a draft horse breed (60 inches or more.

Other Types of Hybrid Equines

A hybrid equine mule is a product of a male donkey and a female horse. They have been in existence since ancient times. At the same time, there are different types of hybrid equine mules. In addition, there are a variety of additional mules. Check out some additional types below.

Horses, Mules, and Donkeys

Topping the list of the first hybrid equine mule is horse, mules, and donkeys.  This category comprises of:

  • Stallion – Male horse.
  • Mare – Female horse.
  • Jack – Male donkey.
  • Jenny/ Jennet – Female donkey.
  • Horse Mule – Male mule.
  • Mare mule/Molly mule – Female mule.

Horse, Mule and Donkey Hybrid

This is the second type of hybrid equine mules; it comprises of:

  • Mule – Donkey father plus horse mother.
  • Hinny – Horse father plus donkey mother.
  • Jule/Donkule – Donkey father plus mule mother.
  • Hule – Horse father plus mule mother.

Zebra Hybrid/Zebroids

  • Zedonk, Zebras, Zonkey, Zebronkey, Zebryde –  Zebra father plus donkey mother.
  • Zorse, Zebra Mule, Golden Zebra – Zebra father plus horse mother.
  • Zony – Zebra father plus Shetland pony mother.
  • Zebret, Donkra – Donkey father plus Zebra mother.
  • Hebra, Hobra, Zebrinny – Horse father plus zebra mother.

How to Train a Mule

Like other animals, mules also need to be trained to perform specific tasks and tricks. On top of that, there are effective ways to train a horse donkey hybrid. Moreover, training a mule will enhance accessible communication.

In this case, you will need to consider different types of training techniques to fit your mules. To train a mule:

  • Hold the lead line loose with a droop and remove the chain over the nose. To do this, ensure that it is two or three feet from the clip. For better results, attach a leather popper and a 12-foot lead line at the end.
  • Kick starts the back steps process. You can go ahead and teach your dog to take two or three steps back while facing him. Then, stand upright with a friendly and authoritative look.
  • Hold the lead line with a droop about three from the clip, face the mule, then give it a command, such as. ‘’ back’’, then tag the lead line. While doing this, be gentle to make it comfortable.
  • Make it a habit to turn and ask your mule to stand square (in front feet even and two back feet even).
  • Map a two or three-mile safe walking loop to make the whole process comfortable. While doing this, stand on the left side and keep a droop in the lead line. Afterward, start walking, and if it tries to go past the lead line, it will bop it in the noise.

Are Hinnies and Mules Good Therapy Animals?

Mules and Hinnies have existed for quite some time. Apart from being used as pack animals, they are also suitable for therapy purposes. Just like the regular communication between human beings, mules and hinnies are helpful in therapeutic programs.

For instance, the disabled enjoy ridding programs, thus giving hope in life through positive results. In this case, they get to experience physical progress, mental and emotional changes. They are also crucial in educating youngsters on interacting with their friends, family, and the community.

How Much Weight Can a Hinny and Mule Carry?

At a glance, mules and hinnies come from a cross between a donkey and a horse. The two animals carry different weights but not more than a horse. Generally, a mule can take around 90 kilograms (198 pounds).On the other hand, a hinny carries less weight than a mule. One thing to note is that the figure might differ due to their training process.

What is the Purpose of Breeding Hinnies and Mules?

Mules and hinnies are great animals bred from a horse and donkey. Different people breed them according to their needs. However, some people have a snobbery view about them. While the two animals are helpful, what is the exact purpose of breeding them? Here are the reasons why.

Mules are Healthier and Stronger

Mules are known to be strong and sounder, thus a longer life span. But, on the other hand, this might be because of hybrid vigor- a condition resulting from crossbred animals’ genetic superiority.

Has a Sense of Self Preservation

One exciting aspect about a mule is the sense of self-preservation. This aspect makes it popular on farms. When a mule senses danger, it won’t continue with the journey. Instead, it will pause and watch out for any looming threats. As a result, it cannot injure itself while pulling a load as it can shift from one point to another.

Cost Less to Feed

Mules are known to be smaller than horses. For this reason, they tend to consume less food. Moreover, you will not spend much money on hoof care as they don’t require shoes.

Resistant to Diseases

For the most part, hinnies are not prone to diseases. Their longer lifespan and robustness make them suitable to withstand harsh conditions.

Used as Pack Animals

Another advantage of hinnies is that they are fantastic for packing animals. These animals are known for being strong and contain strong hooves, which makes them withstand even high temperatures and rocky grounds.

Both are Used In Riding Events

There are several riding events, such as dressage riding, which are conducted regularly. However, hinnies and mules are not suitable for all levels depending on the circumstance. As such, they get restricted from high-level hunter and jumper events.

Kept as Pets

Another common reason why the two are bred is that many people prefer to keep them as pets. Typically, pets are good companions, and so are hinnies and mules. The reason behind this is because they exhibit a smaller size, just like any other pet.

Moreover, horse lovers prefer it since they are bred with miniature horses creating a product that makes them perfect to be called a pet.

How to Care for Your Mule or Hinny

Mules and hinnies are great animals to keep in your household. But before taking a further step of making them feel comfortable in your home, you need to grasp a clear understanding first. This brings you down to techniques of keeping them, training, and how to understand their behavior.

With that in mind, here are practical steps and ways to help you administer proper care for your hinny or mule.

Administer Proper Diet

Feeding a mule does not involve giving them any kind of food. First of all, you need to consider a special diet such as hay or straw. While doing this, avoid cereal and grain feeds.

Administer the Right Portion Size

It is unprofessional and impossible to feed a mule or a hinny an amount of food equal to a regular horse. As much as it depends on an individual animal, feed it slightly less food than a horse.

Understand Your Mules Behavior

Mules and hinnies look almost the same but behave differently. As a parent and veterinary professional, you need to understand so that you’ll know how to administer the proper treatment. This is because you’ll be able to understand how to handle them. Moreover, you’ll get to understand the drugs that they are sensitive to.

Employ Positive Reinforcements With Treats

Another vital way to care for your hinny or mule is positive reinforcement. At times, you might find that your animal is afraid or behaves weirdly during doctors’ visits. But if they are trained and rewarded, they’ll get to face the visits without fear.

Castrate the Male Hybrids

Managing hinnies and mules can be daunting. By castrating them, you’ll be able to control breeding and handle them properly.

Trim the Feet

The feet of hinnies and mules need to be trimmed every six to ten weeks. Regular trimming is essential since it makes them feel more comfortable. However, you need to train and expose them to trimming to avoid nervousness.

Conduct Regular Check-ups

Many pet owners assume that hinnies and mules don’t require regular check-ups. They don’t know that it helps identify underlying issues and keep them sound. Since they can still get ill, it is essential to take them for frequent health checks.

Conduct Physical Exercises

Physical exercises are not only essential for hinnies and mules but also for human beings. Such activities may include running around spacious fields or working under saddles. By doing this, both you, your hinny, and mule will stay healthy and fit.

Provide a Companion

Just like human beings, mules and hinnies get bored too. As a result, they end up being dormant and bored. When this happens, the best thing to do is to provide the company of a fellow equine. In the end, their mental stimulation will be developed.

Secure Their Surroundings

Proper surrounding plays a crucial role in the lives of hinnies and mules. This gets deeper to adequate and a safe space for moving around. On top of that, they can jump over the fence and harm themselves or escape. Therefore, it is essential to erect high fences to ensure that they remain safe.

11 Facts on Mules and Hinnies

Mules and hinnies are a result of a cross-breed between a donkey and a horse. They are used for various purposes like in conducting therapy and as pack animals. For that reason, here are some common facts of mules and hinnies:

Mules and Hinnies are Different Animals

Mules and hinnies are a product of the domestication of different equine hybrids. From the breading of a donkey and a horse, mules and hinnies come into existence.

And in this case, a Hinny is an offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. On the other hand, a mule is an offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. On the contrary, they don’t perform the same function because they exhibit the same characteristics.

They have Different Behaviors

Many people fail to differentiate between a mule and a hinny because they almost have the same look. However, they have different behaviors.

Typically, hinnies are low in temper, conduct actions in a reasonable way, and move slowly. Mules on the other side are energetic, bold, and agile.

They are Not Sterile          

Generally, mules and hinnies are known not to reproduce.  This brings us down to chromosomes. While mules have 64 chromosomes, donkeys have 60. As a result, their offspring have an extra chromosome, thus impossible to reproduce.

However, some mules have given birth. Although people are against it, they can actually produce on their own.

They Look Identical

Many people find it hard to differentiate between the two. However, some traits will make you notice some differences. In terms of body size, they exist in three sizes.


This is a bread that measures less than 50 inches tall.

Saddle mule

It measures more than 5o inches tall.

Draft mule

This is a mule that is tall and is produced from a donkey crossed with draft horses. Besides that, they are suitable for activities such as racing competitions.

Both Have a Bad Reputation

As much as the two animals are known for having advantages, sometimes they can be stubborn. Apparently, mules are known for being unrest. Thus the popular saying, “as stubborn as a mule’’ came about. Besides that, hinnies are not saints either. They can also be hard-headed, which is why breeders have second thoughts about breeding.

For instance,  they can resist following you if they sense danger and that is why people avoid them from being stubborn. But with patience and good relation, they can be good companions.

They Exude Different Colors

They are equines of many colors. Some of the colors are black, brown, and bay. Other colors include; dun, white, and buckskin among others.

Healthy and Strong

The two breeds are known for being disease intolerant as they possess maximum strength and adequate immune systems. In addition, both are stable and gentle. However, this requires suitable treatments.

Both can be Gaited

One interesting fact about mules and hinnies is that they can be gaited. Generally, gaited horses perform additional movements such as running, walking, and racking. Hybrid equines inherited this trait from their ancestors. Unlike mules, gaited hinnies should be bred in rocky environments since they can’t gallop more.

They Compete in Dressage

As mentioned earlier, these breeds compete a lot. They also compete in dressage events such as the USDF.

Hinnies are Useful

Even though they are not used often and are unpopular, they still contain some advantages. Their usefulness makes them loved by enthusiasts. Being strong, they are great pack animals, and they don’t tire easily.

To add, the half donkey half-horse species are careful on trails compared to mules and can survive in areas with inadequate vegetation. This is because they have less demand for forage.

Generally, mules and hinnies are the offspring of a donkey and a horse. But many people find it had to tell them apart as they look almost the same. However, the two animals contain advantages and disadvantages.

If you are an enthusiast of either of the two animals, what you need to do is to breed their parents as the result will serve you well. Whichever the case, the most crucial aspect is coming up with the one that will suit your needs.