Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shawnee Mule Ride

Mule riders from Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and Georgia at Whiskey Cave on one of Angie's guided rides

Shawnee Mule Ride: 
Big Hearts Create Memorable Event
by Angie J. Mayfield, Loogootee, Ind.

Where can you see nearly 500 pretty saddle mules in one place, meet new mule friends, reconnect with old ones, enjoy a free meal and dance, and trail ride in the most scenic place in the Midwest? Well, only at the McAllister and Friends annual Shawnee Mule Ride, of course. The event grew by leaps and bounds this year with mule riders from 26 states and three countries visiting High Knob Campground to trail ride and explore the 280,000 acres of Shawnee National Forest from April 9-15. Some came the weekend before, some stayed a few days, and some stayed the entire event, but all left with new friends and memories of our scenic paradise in southern Illinois. 

This year, organizers added fundraisers to the event to help a little muleskinner in need. Briar Phillips, a 4-year-old mule rider from Kentucky, is suffering from kidney cancer, but his family came to the event to enjoy what Briar loves best, riding and camping. Big-hearted campers donated cash, plus saddles, hay, tack, drawings, artwork, welded horseshoe art, and other items for benefit auctions on Friday and Saturday and raised more than $10,000 to help Briar and his family. Brock Milam and Steve Dawson, who sold mules during the week, also donated a portion of their profits. It was a truly humbling, blessed week. As Anthony McAllister said, “This is what the mule world is all about.”
Anthony “Bull” and Cathy McAllister, who have been camping and riding at High Knob and Shawnee since 1983, their daughter Katie Eastin, and JoJo Moomey, owner of High Knob since 2009, were the main forces behind the event, working tirelessly to plan, prepare the 50-acre camp, advertise, and ensure everyone enjoyed their visit. They could be found each morning answering questions, going over maps, organizing and guiding rides each day, and loaning out tack and mules. Late at night, the McAllisters were visiting around the campfire, while JoJo was usually still checking in campers and making sure everyone had what they needed. With more than 160 sites, 80 covered stalls, water, electric, a laundry area, hay, tack supplies, and free coffee, she had it covered. JoJo was also kind enough to open her hay field this year to accommodate all of the riders and to close the camp to horse riders and mushroom hunters so we could have a true mule only event. JoJo’s sister, Sherry Richerson, served meals at the cook shack. Permanent campers helped guide rides. Kathy Lawless of Michigan organized the fundraisers, Roy and Beth Landers of Illinois donated the hog, Joe Hamp of Illinois cooked it, and Ival McDermott of New Jersey donated commemorative coffee mugs. Mule riders really are the best!
Some other highlights from the ride were the tack swap on Friday evening, with campers socializing, trading and selling tack, plus vendors, including Linda Brown with the Mule Store out of Pennsylvania, Beth Newmaster of Indiana from Mule Girls, Tucker Tack of Arkansas, and local Amish shops. In addition, Mary Steere Photography set up photo shoots at the ride all week. Then, everyone enjoyed a hog roast and dance on Saturday night. Little Tucker Mayfield opened up with “Down on the Corner,” singing and playing his banjo, before the Johnny Williams and the Steelherders Band took over with country and southern rock music.
Although anyone with a mule already owns a trophy and all of the mules were awesome (not one accident all week), I donated trophies and presented several awards at the event. The farthest traveled was Chris Hostletter from New Mexico (who drove 1,400 miles). The cleanest mule and stall was new this year and awarded to Brett Schwalb of Edwardsville, Ill. The orneriest mule went to Mark Allen’s mule Johnny Ringo of Missouri. The oldest mule rider was Dan Mickler, 81, from Lawrenceville, IL. Youngest riders (Li’l muleskinners who rode their own mule) were Briar Phillips, 4, of Kentucky and Tucker Mayfield, 7, of Indiana. The Prettiest Mule trophies were awarded to Tammy Bradley and Ophelia of Florida, first place; Brock Milam of Missouri and his two mules 4 Socks and Josie, second place; and Thomas Dessitel of Louisiana and the mule Cherokee (owned by Richie Ramara). Finally, the Best Trail Mule award went to Billy Frank Curry’s mule, Sonny, of Georgia. Curry is nearly blind, so his mule really takes care of him. Second place was of Keith Hawley of Tennessee. Third place was 13-year-old Taleya McVeigh of Illinois and her mule, Whippoorwill. Riding bareback and barefooted, she deserved first but we couldn’t make the guys look too bad. 
Of course, even with all of the fun activities, the best part of the week was helping a little boy in need and meeting new mule people and their beautiful long ears. It’s always great to see the excitement of first-time visitors after experiencing the phenomenal trail riding at Shawnee. Although some riders explored the trails on their own, others took advantage of the many organized rides scheduled each day for various landmarks, such as Garden of the Gods, Hurricane Bluffs and Initial Tree, Rice Hollow and Whiskey Cave, Dead Man’s Canyon, and others.
We were blessed with 70-degree weather most of the week. It rained one day, but it gave campers a chance to rest and relax, visit, and ride the ferry across the Ohio River to the Amish shops. 
There are so many to thank and so many memories to cherish from the 2017 Shawnee mule ride. Check out the High Knob campground website or McAllister and Friends Shawnee Mule Ride on Facebook. Make plans to attend next year. It will be the same dates, April 9-15. We’d love to meet you and your mule. Until then, Happy Trails. I’ll see you out there!

Mule friends Kelli French, Loree Brown, Dan Sheridan, Steve Dawson, and Jim Jacob having a good ride

Tucker and new mule Josie, bought at the Shawnee ride

The "outlaw" gang of mule riders shooting the bull: Anthony McAllister, Mark Duncan, Loree Brown, Jim Jacob, Dan Sheridan, Kelli Kaye French, Steve Dawson, and Rex Williams

Doug, Angie and Tucker Mayfield and their mules June, Sonny, and Booger

Taleya McVeigh, 13, and her mule, Whippoorwill, that won 3rd place for Best Trail Mule

Angie J. Mayfield is a professor, author, and lifelong mule lover who has ridden mules in 48 states and six countries and has logged more than 6,500 trail miles just since she started keeping track in 1999. If you’d like her to come try out your favorite trails or mule ride, contact her at

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 Boyd Ranch Mule Ride

story and photos by Katherine M. Cerra, Buckeye, Ariz.
The answer to the question, “What do you carry in your saddlebag?” is age dependent. Me, being 56-ish, along with others in that age bracket, experience frequent reminders of injuries of the past when out enjoying ourselves.
Pain meds and Maximum Strength Flexall join my cache of first aid items, hoof pick and Leatherman Tool. The first two items are very much needed, so come the four-mile mark of a ride I don’t have the personality of a snarling coyote with it’s leg stuck in a trap.
And with age is suppose to come knowledge gained by experience. I’ll be darned though if I remember to thoroughly wipe the Flexall off my hands with baby wipes before using nature’s restroom. Being 16% menthol, I am here to tell you that by not practicing in thorough hand wiping, you will experience sensations where you probably shouldn’t be feeling any sensations. Oh my gosh!
So with my saddlebags packed, camera, GPS, extra batteries, my two mules Floppy and Izzy, and my trusty German Shepard co-pilot pup Sophie all loaded, we headed out to the Boyd Ranch Mule Ride, located north of Wickenburg, about nine miles east of Hwy 93 in the Wickenburg Mountains overlooking the Hassayampa river.
This was my fourth year attending the ride, which has been going on for five years now.  My first two years it was just Floppy and I, and then the third year I added my new mule Izzy. This year my 8-month-old pup Sophie attended. 
I love this ride because of the people and riding.  Though I started off not knowing anyone, it has since turned into more like a family reunion with good down-to-earth people.
Each year the “family” gets bigger. This year there were 64 riders and well over 70 some animals, so...lots of braying going on.
We’ve had a lot of rain here in Arizona, so with safety in mind some of the rides had to be altered due to the presence of quicksand in the Hassayampa, as well as some downed barb wire cattle fencing that was taken down by rushing waters.
On Thursday I went on Cathy’s 9.8 mile ride. There was a 697-foot difference between the minimum and maximum elevation with an overall 1,309-foot in ascents. We saw a coyote making a mad dash up the hillside across the way and a jackrabbit dashing up the hillside we were on. I think the jackrabbit was glad he wasn’t the main entrĂ©e on Mr. Coyote’s menu that day.
After the ride, Brad Pyles and his seven-month -old Rottweiler Chief joined Sophie and I for some play time in the Hassayampa. Sophie is a water diva and with her encouragement Chief joined in on the romping in the water.
Friday was the ride of rides: Scott’s now infamous ride into the Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness. I went on this ride the year before and it was pretty and challenging. Izzy was my mule of choice for the wilderness ride for both years.  This year Scott re-routed the approach into the wilderness, which got a thumbs up from me. The approach this time was along a jeep trail that runs up to and along the boundary of the wilderness (versus riding a wash the year before).
Once in the wilderness area we took the same trail as before, with the only difference being we didn’t cross the Hassayampa. The river was running pretty good, but it was running muddy and you couldn’t see the rocks and/or sand that lay beneath, so we trekked through some old mesquite and landed back on track. The ride was 22.2 miles with nine hours in the saddle and I think everyone’s bodies were reminding them of the time.  There was a 1,055-foot difference between minimum and maximum elevation with 3,320-foot in ascents.
The sharpest descent of the wilderness ride was the same spot as last year where we were left wondering what the heck happened to Scott. He seemed to have disappeared. Just mere minutes before he had told us to take our cameras out as the views were going to be awesome…only thing is he forget to tell us that the descent we were about to make was going to be a butt-pucker.   Seeing how I knew what to expect and I recorded the descent.
Arriving back at the ranch I, as I’m sure as others, was ready to roll off the saddle. And what a pleasant and most appreciated personal pit crew awaited my arrival; Dwight Beard, Donna Norgaard and Debbie Humphries. Thanks so much for your help!
I took the day off on Saturday and caught a ride in a wagon and milled around the ranch. Come 2 p.m. it was time for the Mule Ramble. I think the events (keyhole, barrels, ribbons and obstacle) were a nice mix, ran smoothly and enjoyed by all.  The highlight for me was watching the Masters of Driving (Dwight Beard, Donna Norgaard and Ray from Montana) strut their stuff in the arena. Ray, who I hadn’t met before, likes to leave an impression on people he meets and forever will I remember him as Spartacus, as he showed up dressed in Roman garb driving a chariot.
The Farewell ride was led by Bonnie, another awesome trail boss. Bonnie spends quite a bit of time on the trails in the area and found several spots where we could safely cross the Hassayampa River. Luckily, where we crossed, Floppy didn’t need his water wings. Mother Nature turned up the furnace on Sunday and I was glad we weren’t riding the Wilderness area that day! The Farewell ride was 10.3 miles in length, 648-foot difference between minimum and maximum elevation and 1,442-foot in ascents. This was one of the prettiest short rides. We rode up through a wash into a canyon that had yellow poppies all over the canyon sides.  Very, very pretty. Out on the trail enjoying the high temperatures was a Desert Tortoise. I always feel privileged when I see one of these creatures out in the wild. He had his head tucked in his shell as we passed and I could have sworn I heard him mutter “ass.” Yep, that’s what we’re riding buddy.
Too much to tell and some of which was missed, went on during the event;  music, gold panning, orienteering, a pirate maiden pouring shots, bonfire, socializing and a fox scurrying up a rock canyon.

What goes on, on the Hassayampa stays on the Hassayampa. And even if tales were to be told, one would never know the truth because as legend has it once you sip on the waters of the Hassayampa you never can tell the truth again.

Illinois Horse Fair

by Sue Cole, Senior Editor
photos by Lenice Basham. PairADice Mules
LOREN leading a young mule during a clinic
The 28th Illinois Horse Fair was held March 3-5, 2017 at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois. This 3-day event is produced by Horsemen’s Council of Illinois located in Quincy. Theme for this year’s event was Horses & Heroes. 
A very reasonable advance admission fee could be purchased at a discounted rate, or at the gate for a slightly higher fee. This fee entitled those attending to all events on the grounds, including 40,000 square feet of “shop ‘til you drop” vendors booths selling fashion, tack, gear, equipment, beautiful trailers of all sizes and price, nutrition information for your mules and donkeys, along with a large variety of food for yourself. Along with all the entertainment, the admission fee entitled you to a full-color, educational program that included a schedule of the activities, as well as advertising for equine products and events.
Two separate arenas were in use for mule and horse clinics, along with breed and sport exhibitions, a stallion parade and horses for sale. Carriage and wagon rides were provided for those attending also.
During the weekend awards were presented to horse and horseman of the year. There was a celebration of veterans, law enforcement, first responders and therapy groups.
Clinics and educational programs were presented throughout the weekend, with Loren Basham of PairADice Mules, Belle, Mo. giving six individual clinics on Building a Braver Young Mule and Strengthening the Connection for Mature Mules. At Basham’s final clinic Saturday afternoon there was a packed house. Loren, and his wife, Lenice, were kept busy between clinics visiting with, and answering questions about mules, in the stall area. His choice of a mount for the weekend was an extremely personable 10-year-old sorrel molly mule, Mary Lou. Mary Lou is consigned to the upcoming Jake Clark Saddle Mule Auction in Wyoming.

We were glad to see mules included in this very entertaining, educational event. 

A demonstrator at the Horse Fair

LOREN working with a young mule


LENICE answers mule questions prior to the clinic

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NASMA 2016 Year End Winners - Youth

2016 NASMA High Point Youth 10 & Under

2016 NASMA High Point Youth Donkey

2016 NASMA High Point Youth Mule - Top 10

(featured in our March 2017 issue)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mules and More's 7th Annual Trail Riding Index

Here are our favorite suggestions for trail riding clinics, campgrounds, and trail riding vacations!
Pick up our April issue of Mules and More to see our full 7th annual Trail Riding issue!

Trail Riding Clinics

Building a Better Trail Partnership with Clinician Karen Lovell

August 5, 6 and 7, 2017
Rocky Mountain Mule Ranch, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta
This clinic is designed to improve the communication between you and your mule. You will work towards achieving this goal by building a strong and trusting relationship that will produce a willing and confident animal. Come stay at the ranch. 
Rocky Mountain Mule & Saddle Co.
Rocky Mountain House, AB, Canada

Overcoming Challenges with Your Horse or Mule with Wild Bunch Mule Co. 

April 28-29, 2017
Whiskey Ridge Ranch in Malvern, Arkansas
Address bad habits, fear, personality conflicts and obstacles in this clinic hosted by Mark and Jennifer Bailey. Instruction in the arena and on the beautiful trails of the ranch and surrounding properties Cost is $300 for two day's instruction with all meals included. Entertainment is proved for Saturday evening. Please RSVP for a clinic participant spot. Spectators are welcome and admission is $24 for two days. 


Fort Valley Ranch Horse & Mule Campground

Fort Valley, VA
Whether you are looking for a guided horseback ride on one of our sure-footed trail horses or bring your own horse, Fort Valley Ranch, nestled in the Massanutten Mountains of the National Forest, has the perfect setting.  We have miles of marked trails on the Ranch as well as direct access to trails in the George Washington National forest.  Hourly, half and full-day rides, as well as multi-day Ranch Packages, are available.  Centrally located in the Shenandoah Valley, minutes from Luray Caverns in Luray, VA and only 1.5 scenic hours from Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

Whiskey Ridge Ranch - Malvern, Arkansas

Whiskey Ridge Guest Ranch features guided and non-guided rides on scenic trails and ponds for fishing and swimming areas. Stalls and trailer hook-ups with water and electric are available. There is a 150 x 250 covered riding arena with bleachers with a full team roping set-up, barrels, poles, jumps and obstacles. Riding lessons are offered. Come ride with us!
Whiskey Ridge Guest Ranch

Buck Fever Camp Trail Rides - Southwest Colorado

Be on your own on trails, or be guided. Move cattle from one pasture to another. Camp in our wall tent, next to a pond with trout, or stay in our cabin. Or you can bring your living quarter trailer and stay in our camp with full hook-up, with a nice fire ring for your group, or put up your own tent.
Arrange for a chuck wagon dinner prepared for your family or group.
Arrange for a wagon ride, this would be an early evening ride, this would be an early evening ride to get a better opportunity to see elk and other wildlife and a beautiful sunset. 
Our ranch is 1,200 acres and borders BLM Land, so there is plenty of riding available. 
Bring your own mules and horses.
Call for details (661)303-0005. 

Turkey Creek Ranch - Newcastle, NE

Turkey Creek Ranch is a dream destination for horse riders. We offer two fully furnished cabins and a campground with electric hook-ups, picnic shelters, shower house, and horse pens. We have miles of mapped trails and an obstacle course you won't find anywhere else!
Call to reserve your spot today! Weekends fill up quickly! 


Riding Vacations

U-Trail's High Adventure Destinations

High adventure destinations and wilderness pack trips enrich and renew your spirit! Reconnect with the natural world on horseback: Gila Wilderness alpine adventures in southwest New Mexico; Unique and stunning destinations each day, including historical sites; Experience Ancient Indian Cliff Dwellings; Pristine solitude, clear running creeks and endless vistas; Observe elk and deer in camp