Mules, Horses or
Which would be best
to pull your heavy wagons? Mules are strong, can go faster,
but are often tricky to handle. Mules also had tendencies
to bolt and become unruly. Oxen are slower, but more
reliable and tougher than mules. They will eat poor grass.
Oxen were very strong and could haul fully-loaded wagons
up ravines or drag them out of mudholes. A large wagon
needed at least three pairs of oxen to pull it.
Scholars put the percentage of pioneer wagons pulled by oxen at one-half to three-quarters. The cost of a yoke of oxen during the last half of the 1840s varied from a low of $25 to a high of $65.
Once on the trail the care and feeding of draft animals became
a very crucial part of the days activities. With each mile covered
their value increased.
An ox bow
Wagons being pulled by horses and mules