Monday, September 26, 2016

Good Friends & Good Mules: Riding The Shawnee National Forest

Four sisters in 1968: Rhonda, Ruth, Reena and Rita out for a ride; The four sisters on the trail ride in the Shawnee National Forest, the first time they had all ridden together since they were kids at home: Renna Moss on Turbo, Ruth Niles on Shadow, Rhonda Hintermeister on Sugar, Rita Rasmussen on Casino in Shawnee National Forest

Good Friends & Good Mules: Riding The Shawnee National Forest
by Audrey M. Beggs, Sims, Arkansas
Our baby boomer adventure in 2013 was to trailer the mules and horses, and ride the Shawnee National Forest in Simpson, Illinois, where we had reservations for six days at Bay Creek Horse Camp. The Shawnee National Forest is a U. S. National Forest located in the Ozark and Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois; it consists of approximately 280,000 acres of federal managed lands. The Shawnee National Forest is the single largest publicly owned body of land in the state of Illinois. Designated as the Illini and Shawnee Purchase Units, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared these purchase units to be the Shawnee National Forest September 1939.
Most of the land added to the Forest in its first decade of existence was exhausted farmland. Throughout the 1930 and 1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted pine trees to prevent erosion, and help rebuild the soil. However the Forest is also home to many hardwood trees and other plant and animal species characteristic of the region.
During the Illinoian Stage (between 352,000 to 132,000 years ago), the Lauren tide ice sheet covered almost 85 percent of Illinois. The southern margin of this ice sheet was located within what is now the area of the Shawnee National Forest. There are many points of interest marking the southern edge of the glacier. Some are located within the Shawnee Forest boundary, others are on public land in proximity. (Information from Wikipedia)
Audrey Beggs on Sugar and Rickey Beggs

This baby boomer adventure started with Renna Moss leaving Sanger, Texas with Turbo to overnight with Rickey and myself in Sims, Arkansas, Sunday, October 20. We loaded mules, Ben and Sugar, Renna loaded Turbo, and we headed to Crystal Springs to meet Vernie Harris and his mule, Cheyenne. I normally do not trailer Sugar long distances as she is getting on in years; she was 28 years old when we made this trip. Once she gets there and is unloaded, she does wonderful, it is just the trip and standing in the trailer for hours that makes her stiff. But, she is a real trouper and did great, once she got her land legs under her she was raring to go.
Our friendship with Vernie had a very unique beginning. I wrote a story many years ago that was published in Mules and More, about my husband, Rickey and a tattoo of Mutt (his mule) on his arm. Vernie read the story when he was visiting a long time mule friend, Walt Cox in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Vernie and his wife, Jo have a son that lives between Mount Ida and Hot Springs, not that far from Sims. While Vernie was there his son was having a yard sale and some friends of ours stopped at the yard sale. They started visiting and he asked them if they knew me and Rickey; they did, and told Vernie where we lived. We still had an egg farm, and were gathering eggs one day when I heard a truck pull up to the chicken house. Rickey and I went out to see who it was. Vernie told us he was trying to find a guy in Sims, Arkansas that had a mule tattoo on his arm. Rickey pulled his shirt sleeve up and said, “Is this what you are looking for?” Vernie was surprised that he had finally found the guy with the mule tattoo. After visiting with us and seeing where we ride, Vernie decided to bring his horse, Montana, and ride the mountains behind our home. He and his wife still live in Flippin, Arkansas, but eventually bought land and built a new home in Royal, Arkansas. Since then we all have become friends and he has become one of our trail riding group that meets twice a year at our place. At least once a year we trailer to a horse camp and meet to ride other trails. Now, his friends are ours and our friends are his.
Vernie Harris on Cheyenne

After we met Vernie in Crystal Springs we caravanned through Little Rock and on to Memphis, then north to Illinois. The same day, Tom and Ruth Niles left from Caulfield, Missouri with their horses, Jessie and Shadow. Ruth is a sister of Renna. One of her other sisters, Rita Rasmussen left Mechanicsville, Iowa with her horse, Casino; she and Casino met another sister, Rhonda Hintermeister, her husband Kevin and daughter Jessica on the road from Muscatine, Iowa. We all arrived at Bay Creek Ranch that afternoon. This was not only a riding trip, but a family reunion for the four sisters.
Ruth and Rita had birthdays in October so we had a birthday party for them the first night. This was the first time the four sisters had been together in a long time. We all share not only a love for trail riding, but a great camaraderie and friendship.
The next day I loaned Sugar to Rhonda so she could ride with Renna, Ruth and Rita. Rhonda does not have a horse, so I stayed in camp so she could ride with her three sisters. This was the first time since they were all kids at home they had ridden together.
Since Kevin does not ride, the highlight of his day was to count the times the owner of the horse camp came around in his golf cart. We had left the front door open as we were unloading and the heat had been turned on. The owner happened to come by and see the door was open, so he went in and turned the heat off; he was not a happy camper. Then it turned cold and I had to go ask him to please come and turn the heat back on. The cabin we stayed in was adequate for our group and had a lot of sleeping areas. Most of the activity though was centered around the kitchen and dining room.
The group rode 8.6 miles the first day. Rhonda and Sugar got along great. The second day we headed out and rode over 16 miles; that was a long day. We did not have a great map of the trails, so Renna was designated as our trail guide. We rode through lots of big rock and ended up in a box canyon by Peter Cave; the scenery was absolutely beautiful!
Audrey Beggs on Ben and Rhonda Hintermeister on Sugar

Wednesday we headed north to a trail we were told was very pretty, and boasted two caves. We rode across Maxwell Ford, watered the mules and horses, and then rode on up the trail. The scenery was just as gorgeous as we had been told. The first cave we came to had vines hanging over the face of the cave and nearby was a hanging tree with a rope. We wondered if anyone had ever been hanged on that tree. We decided this must be Fern Cave; not any ferns except near the trees at the front of the cave. Then we rode on down the trail to Sand Cave. We were able to ride the mules and horses into this cave. A beautiful area, and a great place for a photo op.
Thursday we rode in search of the Jackson Falls Loop; this trail is very treacherous, extremely scenic and took us deep into a very remote area. A lot of rock climbers seek out this area and we did see a couple of guys who were rock climbing that day. We followed the east side of the railroad, but the noise from the trains made the mules and horses extremely nervous. There were square cement culverts that ran under the railroad.
The whole area has an abundance of huge rocks; we had to cross one area that was almost solid rock. This was not a time for your mount to be afraid of rocks.
When we got back to camp Rita wanted to ride Ben, as she had never been on a mule. I rode Sugar and she rode Ben around camp for a few minutes. Ben is one of our ‘go to’ mules and is safe for anyone to ride. As most everyone is that rides Ben, Rita was very impressed with him. At that time all of the sisters had ridden a mule except Renna. But that has now changed, as she has borrowed Ben a couple of times when Turbo was having issues and she didn’t want to ride him in the mountains. Erin, Renna’s daughter has also ridden Ben, and she and he got along great. As Rickey like to say, “Ben is one of those animals that will make you smile even if you are having a bad day.”

Kevin, Rhonda and Jessica left on Thursday morning to head home. Before they left for Iowa we got Jessica to get in the saddle on Sugar, as she had never been on a horse or mule. I think it was a little scary for her at first, but she had a smile on her face as I led her around.
Tom’s trail riding got cut short as his mare developed a sore place under the saddle from the ride on Thursday; he was not able to ride with us on Friday.
Headed up the trail in the Shawnee National Forest with Vernie Harris on Cheyenne in the lead

Friday morning we woke to a cold 27 degrees, so we waited until after 9:30 to ride. At that time it still was not a heat wave. We rode along the train trestle again. Renna yelled for me to bring Sugar up and lead them through the trestle tunnel; I don’t think Turbo liked the looks of the dark tunnel with water standing in it. Sugar was brave and she and I led the group under the train tracks of the Illinois Central at the Tin Whistle overpass. After hours of riding toward what we thought was Cove Hollow, we ran out of trail markers.
The guys all wanted to ride through the cement culverts, under the railroad tracks. These were full of water, and the rest of us refused. That turned out to be a good call as we met a guy on the trail that told us there was a 30 foot drop off at the end of those culverts. While we were wandering around in the woods, trying to find a trail marker, Rickey and Vernie kept us entertained with their singing.
We made it back through the Tin Whistle, across the dam and back to camp; that turned out to be our longest ride yet…17 miles. A lot of miles for us baby boomers.
Saturday we got up early and headed home. It was raining when we got back to Sims. Renna and Turbo spent the night with us, it was still raining when she pulled out for Texas the next morning.
We hit the jackpot, as we had five beautiful sunny days of riding in the Shawnee National Forest. After I got home and looked at the map and the places we had ridden, I realized it was only about 30 miles from Smithland, Kentucky, the birthplace of my paternal grandmother. What a coincidence that I was that close and didn’t realize it.
Rita Rasmussen and Casino can't believe the size of the rocks in the Shawnee National Forest

Our next trip was to ride the Buffalo National River area in 2014. A story about that trip will be written next.  Life is a journey…enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It's All In The Log

by Susan Dudasik, Salmon, Idaho

Bonnie’s our barn clown. Strolling through the tackroom or sneaking through gates is her specialty. So when she just stood still, not moving at feed time, it was obvious something was wrong

Bonnie, our 16-year-old molly mule wasn’t right. It was a cool morning, about 8 a.m. I’d just finished tossing the morning hay and was about to start picking the corral when I noticed Bonnie just standing there. Warning bells, something was wrong; she’s usually a chow hound. After a quick visual check for obvious injuries, I decided to put her in a smaller holding pen. I took her temperature, which was normal, and she had gut sounds. She wasn’t sweating, trying to roll or looking or kicking at her belly, but her eyes were really dull and she was very lethargic. 
Next step was a call to our vet, Andrea “Andy” Clifton, DVM, Dr. Andy. I told her what I was observing and since there wasn’t anything specific, she advised keeping her separated and just observing her for a while. I’m one of those folks who call the vet for something like this, just to let her know there might be a problem brewing. I’ve never had a vet belittle me for this, as often we were able to catch something before it became a major issue. But I have had other horse people tell me I was overly cautious and just wasting the vet’s time. I filled a bucket with fresh water and made her a nice sloppy bran mash, which she usually slurps up. She wasn’t interested. By noon, she still hadn’t pooped, urinated, drank or touched the small bit of hay I gave her. But, still no signs of colic or a temperature. Another call to Dr. Andy.  She recommended a small dose of Banamine paste. By 3 p.m., Bonnie finally dropped a small hard pile of manure and started picking the hay. I gave her another bran mash, which she ate up. 
This routine went on for 48 hours. No real indication of a major problem, no colic, no temperature. She would eat, poop, and urinate, but her water intake was very limited. Finally blood and urine tests were done and again there were a few slightly above normal, but nothing major. Currently we are still dealing with the situation.
So, here comes the main point of this article: record keeping. With all the observations made over this time period, it would have been impossible to remember what happened at what time since she was checked on at least every two hours throughout the day and several times at night.  I knew Dr. Andy would want to know what Bonnie was doing, and when. What was her temperature the first night, when did she finally poop and what was it like, when did she finally drink, etc.
With a barn of three mules and three horses, keeping track of everyone’s medical history would be a nightmare if we didn’t have a system for recording things. Often folks rely on their vet to keep track of their equines medical records, but that’s really not fair to the vet or the equine. For instance, we also use a second vet that we haul out to because he has a full equine clinic and can do things that can’t be done at the barn. When we go to his clinic, I always have our book with the medical records. That way he can see what has been done, there’s no guess work as to when they had their vaccinations, were wormed, had their teeth worked on or had any ongoing issues.
Because we have a written record of each equine’s history, our vets were able to diagnose one of the horses with sand induced colic. The mare tended to have bouts of colic every three or four months for about a year. By noting how often it was happening, Dr. Andy came up with a plan to put the mare on daily psyllium and it’s been almost two years since she’s had colic.
In Bonnie’s case, a review of her history revieled she had something similar in 2012 and 2014. We still don’t know the exact cause, but I feel a lot better knowing she’s had this before and was alright, instead of not knowing and fearing it’s something major.
Our medical records are kept in the barn in a standard notebook with divider pages for each equine. The notes are kept on a simple log page made on the computer. It was easy to do. The top line says NAME and then it’s just a page of lines. I made a bunch of copies and use them as needed. Each page is then placed in a plastic page protector. Simple! Of course you can get as extravagant as you want and there are a number of templets on line that you can use. Some folks like to keep their records on the computer, but we prefer having the pages so we can use them in the barn to log things as they occur.
Aside from the medical log pages, our files also contain a weight chart. We worm the equines in the spring and fall and record their weight. We also do a sand check every few months. To do this, we simply put a few manure balls in a jar of water, shake it really well and see how much sand drops to the bottom of the jar. You can ask your vet to show you how to do this and what to look for. But it gives us a good idea of how much sand our equine vacuum cleaners are scarfing up and if the psyllium program is working. We have two of the six equines on a daily psyllium program and the other four are on a seven days a month schedule.
By setting up a basic medical log, it’s saved me a lot of frustration trying to remember who had what done, which equine had what medical issues and made life easier since I don’t have to flip back through old calendars or note to recall any of these items.  And, when I go out of town, the person taking care of the equines has instant access to this information which is a big asset to the vet and the equine.

Susan Dudasik is an equine journalist, PATH Intl. Certified riding instructor and a mule enthusiast. She's competed in numerous trail class events, holds clinics and teaches groundwork and trail classes at Misfit Farm in Salmon, Idaho. The advice given here is meant only as a guide. A professional trainer should handle any serious equine training problems.

Friday, July 22, 2016

From Across The Pond - Golega Horse Fair

by Donna Taylor, Puylaurens, France

Carrying on from my last article, when Colin and I went to Spain and Portugal for a two week holiday in November last year.  After driving into Spain and stopping off in Bilbao for a few days, we then headed to Porto in Portugal. We then left Porto and finally reached the horse fair that I have wanted to visit for many years. It was certainly the highlight of my holiday.
The horse fair is situated in the relatively small town of Golega, approximately an hour north by car of the capital city of Lisbon in Portugal. This fair is steeped in history as it dates back to the 16th century. It’s former name was the St Martins Fair, but now it incorporates the National Horse Fair as well as the International Lusitano Horse Fair. It is always held in November and is a ten day exhibition of some of the finest Lusitano horses in the country and probably in the world.
The Lusitano is a Portuguese horse breed, closely related to the Spanish Andalusian horse. The ancestors of the Lusitano were originally used for classical dressage, driving and bullfighting on horseback. 
Golega is known as the Portuguese Capital of the Horse. It benefits from wide-ranging horse-related business activities, from trade, training, sports and culture to leisure, numerous private stud farms, equestrian centres, equipment and services to horses. 
During the fair, there are a lot of competitions that take place including dressage, show jumping, team cross, horse driving, etc. There are also book presentations and painting exhibitions. 
Golega is dedicated to equines. Nearly every street, sign and business in the town has a reference to the horse. There are horse and rider statues dotted around the streets, there are many stables at the back of peoples’ homes. Even the rubbish bins (garbage bins) are designed as a horse shoe with a big net to put the rubbish in. 
When you go into the bars and restaurants you will see photos and paintings of beautiful Lusitano horses. There are jewelery shops, clothes and shoe shops all selling merchandise for the riders. There are many saddlery shops and horse carriage showrooms. Even the police are on horseback. 
In the middle of the town, there is an outer arena known as the manga where people parade on horseback in traditional Portuguese costume and then there is an inner arena where there are competitions, displays and performances. 
As we were only visiting the fair for three days, I had looked at the program in advance and picked the days I was most interested in. I would have loved to have spent a week there, but three days was enough for a very patient husband who likes equines, but would not like to look at them all day and all evening for that length of time!
I wanted to see some dressage and also showing in hand and carriage driving, but most of all, I wanted to see the Blessing of the Saint Martin’s Pilgrims. The parade starts at midday and there are riders and carriage drivers that ride a couple of kilometres through the town to the church. At 13:00 all the equines and their owners and spectators stand outside the church and a Blessing is carried out. It was an incredible sight to see all these beautiful horses and their elegant riders in their traditional costumes standing quietly whilst the priest gave the blessing. 
Throughout those ten days, there are horses being ridden from early morning until very late at night. Even when we were leaving each evening at around 23:00, there were many riders on their horses outside the bars or parading around the outside arena. 
There are no mares allowed at the fair in November. They have their own national fair in Golega every year in June. So the majority of Lusitano horses were stallions. Geldings can participate as well, but they were definitely outnumbered by the stallions. 
Some of the horses at the fair were for sale, others were stud horses, some were competing and some were there just to show off. I loved seeing the riders and carriage drivers in their Portuguese costumes. The ladies looked so elegant and the men so handsome. The Lusitano horses were powerful, bold, so well behaved and so very handsome too. 
On our final evening, Colin and I were sitting outside a bar having a drink and a snack. I was enjoying soaking up the atmosphere and watching the riders come past the bar. A carriage approached us and I had to take a second look as there were two mules coming towards me. Colin wondered what on earth I was getting so excited about, then he saw the mules. I really didn’t expect to see any mules, so this was a complete surprise.
I couldn’t get out of my chair quick enough to take some photos. I told Colin to sit tight and I’d come back in due course. I was so excited to see these two beautiful black mules, both around 14.2hh. I followed the carriage as it went towards the outer arena. 
I was wearing my Mules and More cap and my Carolina Mule Association T-shirt, so I was trying to show the driver that I too loved mules. I’m not quite sure he really understood me, but he gave me a smile as he drove past. 

I watched him for a little while whilst he drove the mules around the outer arena, then I headed back to the bar. What a perfect end to a perfect holiday. I was so happy to see these mules. The Golega National Horse Fair is such an incredible event to visit and one that I would recommend to anyone who has a love of equines. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shawnee Mule Ride: 300 Mules, 24 States, and 3 Countries

Mule Tails and Trails
by Angie J. Mayfield, Loogootee, Ind. 

A group of mule riders Angie guided to Whiskey Cave

Recently, I had the pleasure of helping organize the largest gathering of saddle mules east of the Mississippi, if not anywhere, and we’re still telling stories and sifting through pictures of an amazing week at McAllister and Friends’ Shawnee Mule Ride in southern Illinois. From April 15-24, more than 300 mules and riders from 24 states, plus New Zealand, Canada, and Switzerland, visited High Knob Campground to trail ride and explore the 280,000 acres of Shawnee National Forest. Some stayed a few days and some stayed the entire event, but all left as friends for life and admirers of our scenic piece of paradise here in the Midwest.

Anthony McAllister riding under Jackson Falls at Shawnee

Anthony “Bull” and Cathy McAllister, of Rinard, Ill., who have been camping and riding at High Knob and Shawnee since 1983, and JoJo Moomey, owner of High Knob since 2009, were the forces behind the event, working tirelessly to plan, prepare the 50-acre camp, advertise, and ensure everyone enjoyed their visit. I don’t think these dedicated hosts ever slept. In the early morning, they could be found drinking coffee with campers, answering questions, going over maps, setting out lists of the organized rides that day, or loaning out 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 150 sites, 80 covered stalls, water, electric, a weekend cook shack, a laundry area, hay, tack supplies, and free coffee, she usually had it covered. Mary Rathbun, Allardt, Tenn., and Ruth Reynolds, Tennessee, took t-shirt orders for the event, and Ival McDermott, New Jersey, even donated commemorative coffee mugs. Mule riders are the best!

Tucker's mule Booger helps Florence Brimstein of Ohio with a trail map

Some other highlights of the mule ride were a tack swap, vendors, including Linda Brown with the Mule Store out of Pennsylvania, Crestridge, Crooked Creek, and Rockin’ R Saddleries, Beth Newmaster, of Boonville, Ind., from Mule Girls, and local Amish shops. Plus there were hog roasts and dances on both Saturday nights. Kathy Lawless of Michigan donated one hog, while Roy and Beth Landers, Illinois, donated the other. Joe Hamp was the cook, and Jackie Lueking donated the tableware. Everyone brought a covered dish, and there was food for an army – and an army of mule riders showed up, with 320 served the first Saturday. The only drama of the week was when the McAllister’s granddaughters, Jesselynn, age 3, and Scarlett, age 2, fought over who was going to dance with Tucker Mayfield (my 6-year-old  son). Scarlett wasn’t interested in sharing her man. Still, they danced all evening, and Tucker was even the opening act for the Johnny Williams and the Steelherders band, playing Cripple Creek and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on his banjo.

Bill Meyer of Tennessee jumps off a rock at Shawnee. His mule, Waylon, won second place for Best Trail Mule at the Shawnee Mule Ride

Although anyone with a mule already owns a trophy and all of the mules were awesome (not one mule bucked anyone off all week), several awards were given at the event. The farthest traveled was Stan Mullen from New Zealand, Katja Frohlich from Switzerland, and Chris and Sarah Hostletter from New Mexico (who drove 1,400 miles). The oldest mules belonged to Dawn Frank of Ohio (Sally, age 24) and Diane Steward of Harrington, Del., (with a 21-year-old mule). The oldest mule rider was Rodney Ellis, 78, of Iowa. The orneriest mule went to Anthony McAllister. Youngest riders (who rode their own mule) were my son Tucker, 6; Taleya McVey, Illinois, 12; Hunter Lawburgh, 12, Indiana;  and Bristol McAllister, 13, of Illinois. The Prettiest Mule trophies were awarded to Cindy Hanson and Fred, of Croswell, Mich., first place; a tie for second with Beth Greenville and Ladybug, of Kentucky, and Tammy Bradley and Ophelia, of Brooksville, Fla.; and a tie for third with Brock Milam and 4 Socks and Sunny from Benton, Mo., and Wendy Griffith and Kate, of Kansas. Finally, the Best Trail Mule award went to Ellen Carmack of Glasgow, MO and her mule, Dish. Second place was Bill Meyer of Tennessee and Waylon. Third place was Charlie Hays of New York.

Loree Brown of Michigan

Of course, even with all of the fun activities, the best part of the week was meeting new mule people, including Mule Girls I’d talked to for years on Facebook, but never met in person, and also seeing the excitement of first-time visitors after experiencing the phenomenal trail riding at Shawnee. Florence Brimstein of Chillicothe, Ohio, described Shawnee as “Hocking Hills on steroids.” 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. Guides included myself, the McAllisters, Kathy Lawless, Rich Cooper, Tony Lusch, Ross Bird, Bill Meyer, and Wayne Moore. On the last Saturday, many of us left camp early to venture over to the western side of Shawnee to the Jackson Falls area. Rodney Ellis, who has trail ridden in some of the most remote and beautiful areas out West said that his Shawnee experience was “the ride of his lifetime.” 

There are so many to thank and so many memories to cherish from the 2016 McAllister and Friends Shawnee Mule Ride. Make plans to come next year. Check out the High Knob campground website or McAllister and Friends Shawnee Mule Ride on Facebook. We’d love to meet you and your mule.

Ival McDermott of New Jersey and Caroline take a selfie

 ANGIE and Sonny

Anthony MCAllister's grand-daughters, Jesselynn and Scarlett, fighting over Tucker at the dance. Scarlett was not at all happy about sharing her man with her sister

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Subscription Rate Increase

Effective June 1, 2016, the subscription rate for Mules and More will be 
$36 - 1 Year Subscription (12 issues) and $65 - 2 Year Subscription (24 issues)
First Class Rate - $60, Canadian - $65, International - $100, and Single Issue - $5.50

Our last rate increase was October 1, 2007. Due to printing and postal increases we are forced to raise our rates in order to provide readers with the same quality publication they are accustomed to. We want to thank you all for your business and continued support of Mules and More

Monday, May 16, 2016

10th Annual Rock Bottom Chuck Wagon Races

Rock Bottom Chuck Wagon Races in Denver, Arkansas, will be celebrating their 10th anniversary over Memorial Day weekend, May 25-29, 2016. The Fowlers (Mike and Lou, along with children Janice, Luke, Jake and Tawnia) have worked to keep this race fresh and exciting each year, and have turned it into a huge event for both spectators and competitors. 
The Fowler’s recipe for success has been to add new and exciting ingredients each year. This year’s events include a switch race during the intermissions of the chuck wagon races, a pasture barrel race following the pasture roping, and a mule jump followed by a team holdback. When you add these new events to their already big lineup, which include two nights of ARA, ACRA and MCRA sanctioned rodeo action, pasture roping, goat roping, and arena roping, you get something for everyone. NBHA barrel racing, pasture bronc fanning, two days of chuck wagon races, a Snowy River Race, trail rides, ranch rodeo, bull riding, miniature bull riding, miniature bronc fanning, camping and four nights of live entertainment round out the weekend’s schedule of events. 
A beautiful creek surrounds the Rock Botton area, providing a perfect place to fish and swim.  “There’s plenty of creek for everyone,” as the Fowler’s say.
Mike, Lou and their children plus lots of their extended family, work hard putting together every years activities.  From working the front gates and welcoming everyone, to picking up trash, they all pull together and make this event happen.  It’s a lot of work but together they have a lot of fun.  “We just keep trying to add a little something extra every year,” said Mike.
Camping sites at Rock Bottom are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, but call (870)749-2491 about staking a spot early. There are limited RV hookups, so call in advance to reserve a spot with electric hookup, for an additional charge.
Rock Botton Chuck Wagon Races are not sanctioned.  They are a qualifying race for the Rookie series at the National Championship Race in Clinton. This year’s races will take place on a  new track with more camp stops by the track.
Don’t you think it’s time you hit Rock Bottom?

Rock Bottom Chuck Wagon Races
(870)749-2491 or (870)715-7046

Contact Jake Fowler at (870)715-8038 for pasture roping information

Schedule of Events
Daily: Breakfast 7:30 a.m.
Trail Ride Leave 10 a.m.  

Wednesday, May 25 - Gates Open 12 p.m.
All Family Rodeo -  8 p.m.

Thursday, May 26
Trail Ride -  10:00 a.m.
Mutton Bustin -  7 p.m.
ARA Rodeo - 8 p.m.
Dance - 10 p.m.

Friday, May 27     
Guided Trail Ride with lunch - 10 a.m.
Pasture Team Roping Check In - 10 a.m.
Pasture Team Roping -  11 a.m.
Mutton Bustin - 7 p.m.
ARA Rodeo -  8 p.m.
Dance - 10 p.m.

Saturday, May 28
Registration NBHA Barrell Race -  9 a.m. 
Exhibition Barrell Race -  9:30 a.m.
NBHA Barrel Race to follow exhibition
NBHA  Pasture Barrell Race -  12 p.m.

Guided Trail Ride - 10 a.m.
Arena Team Roping Check In - 10 a.m.
Arena Team Roping -  12 p.m. 
Chuck Wagon Races - 1 p.m.
Switch Race - Intermission
Horse & Mule Race at Conclusion of Races
Snowy River Race (after horse race)
Evening Trail Ride - 4:30
Racing Awards (Day Winners) - 5 p.m.
Mule Jump Competition -  5:30 p.m.
Ranch Rodeo - 7:30 p.m.
Porta Potty Race at 
Conclusion of Ranch Rodeo
Dance - 10:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 29
Cowboy Church - 10 a.m.
Guided Trail Ride - 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  
Extreme Cowboy Race
Chuck Wagon Races -  1 p.m.
Switch Race - Intermission
Horse & Mule Race 
at Conclusion of Races
Snowy River Race (after horse race)
Racing Awards  - 5 p.m.
Jr Rough Stock Rodeo - 5 p.m. 
Cowboy Mounted Shooting -  7 p.m.
Freedom Train Tour Rodeo - 8 p.m.
Dance - 10:30 p.m.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Jackie’s Story - June 2014 Cover Story

by Kathy Rohde, Dunlap, Calif.

Bar JF Sterling Silver, aka Jackie

March 27, 2013 started out like any other day, until I opened the living room drapes.
Outside stood my jack, Bar JF Sterling Silver (Jackie).  He was standing in his normal place near the feeder but his lips were parted and he looked like a statue rather than a live animal.  I grabbed the banamine and cell phone and ran outside to his pasture.  When I gave him the banamine there was no reaction.  I called my vets office (Dr. Troy Ford) and told them I was on my way with Jackie and he was very sick.  He was in so much pain, I don't know how he stepped up into the trailer, but he had so much heart and would do anything I asked of him. When I got to Troy's they went to work on him fast and furiously.  I never would have thought this day would end in such heartache.  I thought I would take him to the vet, leave him a couple of days to be treated for whatever his ailments were and then bring him home where life would resume a normal routine. The longer they worked on him the more it appeared that he wasn't going to make it.  Troy did an ultrasound and found a rupture in Jackie's small intestine. Surgery was an option but Troy gave Jackie only a 10 percent chance of survival and recovery.  Had the odds been better and his suffering less, I would have sold the farm to save this guy.  He not only was a wonderful jack, producing some exceptional foals, but he was so dear to me and held a special place in my heart.  

The difficult decision was made to end his suffering.  Troy's wife, Mardee, and his assistants helped me coax Jackie out to a pretty green patch of grass where we would ultimately lay him down.  The finality of what was happening overwhelmed me and the floodgates opened.  As the girls and I cried, my attempt to cope and try to lighten the mood was to kiddingly comment, "It's a shame we couldn't collect him one more time."  At that moment everything stopped.   Troy made a fast call to Dar Hanson, the Reproduction Manager at the Ward Ranch in Kingsburg.  The decision was made to harvest his testicles and retrieve the remaining semen after he was put down.  Troy performed the procedure, packaged everything and through my tears I drove the 30 miles to deliver everything to Dar who would then extract the semen.  While I went home and cried for Jackie, Dar processed the semen. Later that evening Dar called and gave me the hopeful news....the semen appeared viable. There was a chance that Jackie might live on!

This was new territory we were charting and felt the odds may be against us.  The stress to the semen from postmortem harvesting, temperature changes including freezing, transport and so many other variables could be working against us to decrease the viability of the semen. To increase the odds of success, I took only my best mares to be inseminated, those who have successfully foaled several Jackie babies.  If the mares did not settle in foal that would give us an indication the semen may not be viable.  

To play it safe we used four straws of semen per mare.  Ultimately, when I took the mares to be preg-checked, Troy, Dar and I were excited to learn that all mares had settled in foal. We felt we had cleared an impossible hurtle. Because of that success and Troy's re-analysis of the semen, he believes this season we can cut the number of straws to two per mare, with the result being that we may have enough semen to cover over 40 mares!

Now let me tell you about my Jackie. When I made the decision to start my own breeding program, it didn’t take long to find the jack I felt would cross well with my AQHA and APHA registered mares to produce quality mules.  Jackie’s lineage was well established, having produced racing champions such as "Bar JF Hot Ticket," and "Bar JF Red Ticket" and champion show mules.   

Roman IV’s Ima Big Star owned by John and Lyn Ringrose Moe
Call Me The Fireman owned and ridden by Kellie Shields

Jackie had a short but impressive show career, earning first place Jacks at Halter at Squaw Valley Mule Show, third place at Bishop in the two-year-old class, Reserve Champion Jack at the Oakdale Mule Show and Reserve Champion Jack at the Clovis Classic Mule Show.  In 2004 Jackie’s show career ended as it was time to start my breeding program.   

Jackie himself has produced mules that are very successful in their own right. In the show arena his son Call Me The Fireman has won numerous Bishop World and Reserve Championship titles, and the year end 2012 American Mule Association All Around Champion Mule.  A daughter Roman IV's Ima Big Star as a two year old, in 2010, won both her halter classes at Bishop Mule Days.  Star is now competing and excelling against horses in Cowboy Dressage. She was also used to demonstrate Cowboy Dressage at the Horse Expo in Pomona. Jackie's foals are being used in all types of equine activities including, driving, packing, pleasure, trail and the show arena. The biggest source of pride I have in Jackie is hearing from owners of his babies of the trainability, intelligence and overall kind and willing disposition of his foals.

I have been in contact with many people in the mule and donkey industry and various veterinarians trying to ascertain if anyone had knowledge of other postmortem harvested semen from a donkey.  I learned this has been accomplished in the horse industry but was not able to find any history of this procedure being performed on a donkey.    

The most important thing to keep in mind if ever faced with the tragic loss of your jack, all may not be lost.  Depending on circumstances, if there’s any hope of successfully harvesting your jack’s semen postmortem, keep in mind the procedure is time sensitive. In Jackie’s case, we harvested the semen in a matter of minutes after he had been euthanized and before his body temperature dropped.

Jackie's death has brought together many people, those who I would not have expected to be concerned with continuing a donkey's line. It was the open and forward thinking of two men that made this project a reality.  There are no words to express my appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Troy Ford and Dar Hanson.  Because of the success of this project (adventure) we will be expanding our breeding program and accepting a few outside mares.     

Until I owned Jackie, I didn’t understand why mules did some of the things they do.  I always wondered, “Why do they do that?”  Jackie gave me all those answers.  There isn’t a day that goes by, I don’t miss him.  Jackie was my alarm clock, my watchdog and my friend. He will  be in my heart forever.

“Here's the first mule born using the post-mortem harvested semen.,” said KATHY. “His name may end up being Dar Ford IV.  I know it doesn't sound very cool, but without these two wonderful men this whole thing would have never happened.  His barn name is Moon as he was born the night of the eclipse.”