by Susan Dudasik
The 14th Annual Salmon Mule Sale held April 12 in Salmon, Idaho, drew its largest crowd ever. Fifty-seven mules sold for $163,350 for an average of $2,870. According to Sale Chairman Fred Snook, “This was an increase of more than $50,000 higher than the 2012 sale. Last year, 47 mules sold for $112,000 to average $2,382.” This year mules were sold to buyers in Idaho, Montana, Washington, Utah and California. And, Butch, an 8-year-old john mule will be going to Hawaii. Seven mules were purchased by local residents.
Topping the sale was Bud, a bay 16-hand, 8-year-old john mule, consigned by Colby and Codi Gines of Powell, Wyo., and purchased by Tom Sellin of Eagle, Idaho, for $6,800. For having the high-seller, Gines received the $1,000 sale bonus plus a Montana Silversmith trophy buckle.
The Reserve High-Selling mule was Elvis, a 9-year-old buckskin john consigned by Enos Borntrager of Salem, Arkansas, and purchased by Gerald Elliot of Seeley Lake, Mont., for $6,500. Borntrager also had the third high-selling mule, Gertrude, a 6-year-old bay molly purchased by Dorothy Eppich of Basin City, Wash., for $5,800.
Aside from the mule sale, there were plenty of competitive events for the sale mules to demonstrate their talents. First was the mule packing contest in which the packer had to demonstrate that the mule was able to pick up all four feet, trailer load, stand while being packed, go over a raised wooden bridge and weave through tightly spaced poles without knocking them over. The packing event was won by Rosie, a 14.2-hand, 8-year-old molly consigned by Warren Matthews. Placing second was Daisy May, a 14.1-hand, 12-year-old paint molly shown by Amber Wagoner of Dillon, Mont., an agent for Victor Nettles.
Events moved from packing to racing, as seven mules were entered in the second annual Jeff Allen Memorial Race. This race is held in memory of Jeff Allen a 24-year-old local firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty. Allen and his partner, 22-year-old Shane Heath from Boise, Idaho, died while fighting a forest fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest July 22, 2003. Spectators packed the fairgrounds stands as the mules ran the 400 yard lap and tap race. Crossing the finish line first was Colby Gines riding Reba. Close on her heels was Rosie ridden by Warren Matthews, followed by Kristy and Joe Studiner. Local trainer Joe Miller came in fourth riding Dynamite. Prize money was awarded at $600 for first, $300 for second, $200 for third and $100 for fourth.
After the race, it was over to the trail arena where the mules demonstrated their trail skills on 10 different obstacles including trailer loading, crossing a water ditch and dragging a log. This year it was the girls’ time to shine as the top scoring mules were all mollies. There was a tie for first place between Lena Bradford’s mule, Josie, and Daisy May, ridden by Amber Wagoner. Third place went to Sarah, consigned by Brad Ford and fourth was Maggie, ridden by Enos Bortrager.
There’s a saying, “Mules do it all,” and two mules proved that statement as they excelled in different events. Daisy May tied for first place in the trail class and was second in packing. She sold for $4,600. Rosie, who won the packing, placed second in the race and competed in the trail class sold for $2,900. She’s also broke to drive.
On a sad note, this year the SSS family recently lost one of its own. Richard Escott was a local outfitter’s guide who served as the official sale ring escort for both the horse and mule sales. Riding his steadfast little spotted mule, Maggie, Escott had successfully led hundreds of nervous equines into the sale ring and helped keep those entering the ring lined out. Both of Escott’s mules, Maggie and Dynamite, were sold during the sale.
The first Salmon Select Mule sale was held in 2000 in conjunction with the Salmon Select Horse Sale which celebrated its 41st anniversary the day after the mule sale. During that first sale, the high selling mule went for $3,000 and the reserve brought $2,000. The sale gross was $34,400. The average on 22 mules was $1,563. Next year the Salmon Select Mule Sale will celebrate its 15th anniversary. Plans are already under way to celebrate this milestone in a big way. Folks are already consigning mules for this sale. For complete sale results and more sale information contact Fred Snook, Jr. at (208) 756-2125 or visit the website at: http://salmonselectsale.com/.
Susan Dudasik is an equine journalist, PATH 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 horse training problems.