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Horse or Mule?


Horse or Mule?
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This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Vincent in Kenya. He asks about the difference between two similar animals.

Here is the question:

Question:

What is the difference between a mule and a horse? Kindly help with the above.

Regards, Vincent.

Answer:

Hi, Vincent! That is a great question. I did not know the answer until I did some research on the internet. I learned that these two animals are, in fact, family: A mule is the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey.

Physically, mules are smaller than most horses but larger than donkeys. They have bodies shaped like horses but have the long ears of donkeys.

Both horses and mules have been historically used for carrying or pulling heavy loads. But horses are often used for riding, racing and other sports.

Mules are known as work animals because of their ability to carry a lot of weight over long distances. Horses and mules are both very strong animals. But mules are stronger for their size and have better physical endurance. They can also survive extreme weather, are thought to be more patient than horses and usually live longer.

In the second part of the 1900s, industrialized nations reduced their use of mules to transport heavy loads. But mules still perform this work in some roadless areas of the western United States. Mules are also used for outdoor activities, such as carrying supplies for hikers and helping mountain climbers bring equipment to base camps.

And that’s Ask a Teacher.

I’m Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this lesson for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com.

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Words in This Story

offspring –n. the young of an animal or plant

donkey –n. an animal that is similar to a horse but is smaller with large ears

endurance –n. the ability to do something difficult for a long time

hiker –n. a person who walks a long distance for pleasure or exercise

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