August 2011 Mules and More Cover Story
by Lenice Basham
To view over 200 more our photos from this event, click here.
Jake Clark Mule Days, held June 15-19 in Ralston, Wyo., is an annual rodeo and saddle mule auction hosted by Jake and Kay Clark, along with their children and their spouses (with a few grandbabies thrown in the mix). It is always a full week of amazing mules, wonderful mule people and pure exhaustion. This year’s event was no exception.
The week begins with a Brad Cameron Clinic and ends on Sunday with the sale of over 100 head of exceptional mules. As a prospective mule buyer, you can watch each mule for a week before bidding on it at the sale. If you haven’t figured out what kind of mule you are buying by Sunday, you probably shouldn’t be bidding. You get the opportunity to watch the mules being saddled, bridled, ridden, led, fed and see how they react to all of the stimulus occurring around them.
Brad Cameron ClinicThere was a great crowd for the Brad Cameron clinic. He conducted a Mulemanship 1 Class which was for saddle mules that could be ridden. The class was designed to improve the riding skills of the owner and participants were taught how to produce a soft and responsive animal that was balanced and sensitive to their requests. He also conducted a Ranch Mule Class which was designed for people who wanted to learn the basic procedures of working with cattle. It provided emphasis on cow working techniques, ranch roping and stock handling. The emphasis was how to safely and effectively work with cattle while on your mule. Both clinics were fun for both the participants and the spectators who were present to watch. More information about upcoming dates for Cameron clinics can be found in this issue. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t attended a Brad Cameron clinic to make plans now to attend. Everyone (even long time riders) can learn something new. It benefits you and your mule to revisit techniques you thought you had forgotten.
The mule competition events began on Wednesday with the mounted shooting. The competitors are given several patterns to complete, with the top four hightest scorers receiving checks. The top four mounted shooters this year were: TJ Clark, Colby Gines, Mark Bailey and cowgirl Jessie Konoski. Three of the four were riding mules that would go through the sale on Sunday. TJ was riding a five-year-old, sorrel john mule named Theorodore who ended up bringing $7,900 in the sale. Colby was riding a six-year-old, gray roan mare mule named Madina who brought $9,000 in the sale. Colby had ridden Madina the year before while announcing the 2010 rodeo from the arena. Mark Bailey was riding a five-year-old red roan horse mule named Hancock who brought $5,300 in the sale.
Team sorting was held on Thursday morning. There was a huge turnout for this event. Loren, Cori and Cole competed with varying luck. There were those that were really good at this event and those who had a great time competing. The first place winners were the first team up and the cattle got crazy from there. I enjoyed watching the dynamics of the teams. For one event, the partners were drawn out of a pot. Those teams were much more polite to each other than the teams that were chosen by the competitors.
It was interesting to watch the first timers and hear them exit the ring saying they wanted to do it again. I think that team sorting is a sport that even beginning riders can enjoy. There were numerous mules entered in the team sorting that would be in the sale. Brad Cameron also competed in this event. It was nice to see him out of the clinic ring and having a good time.
Each evening from Wednesday through Friday there was jackpot team roping. There were several fantastic teams and the team ropers were amazing. It was rare to see anyone miss. (Until we got to the rodeo on Saturday and then no one seemed to be able to catch...) Loren roped very well and I was proud of him and Wounded Knee. A special thanks to Loren (Jiggs) Loesch for donating the breast collars for the high money earners in the roping events.
The cover this month features two of the jackpot team ropers, Jerry Cobb, riding Tequila, the second high selling mule, and Justin McManigal, riding Mouse.
Each of the mules that goes through the sale must go through the trail preview. It gives buyers the opportunity to watch each mule go through various obstacles: saddling, bridling, getting in and out of the trailer, crossing logs, waiting in a box, trotting through pylons, trotting in a circle, dragging a log, crossing a bridge, leading a pack mule, going through a creek, putting on a slicker and dismounting. It really does give everyone a real idea of what to expect from the mule. Buyers are allowed to wander around and talk to the sellers, ride the mule, ask a million questions. I think every buyer is exhausted by the end of the day. Jake removed several mules from the sale following their performance in the trail preview. The trail results indicated about four mules had perfect scores and another 10-15 had scores of 98 or 99.
The Parade was held on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day. The goal was to get everyone to the start of the parade without incident. This didn’t occur. It was a large group and there were a couple runaways. One rider had to have a few stiches after his mule stepped on his face. He was well enough to win the race later in the day, though. It was a great parade. The streets were lined with spectators. The mules were well behaved. There was a lot of traffic this year but the local police did a great job of preventing any incidents during the parade route. The Bailey family looked outstanding in their matching orange shirts.
The Rodeo went smoothly. It was fantastic to watch so many outstanding rodeo mules in one place. An added bonus was seeing Jake Clark rope with the auctioneers son, Seth. Just like all of those who roped before him – they received a no time. There were several highlights in the rodeo: watching the younger kids steer ride; cheering the mule racers on; laughing at the chaos in the wild cow milking and seeing the smile on Jenna McManigal’s, (Mark and Jennifer Bailey’s youngest daughter) face as she ran her mule around the barrels. Her absolute joy in running the barrels and crossing the timer reminded me of why we all ride and sell mules...we do it because we love it. We do it because there is incredible joy in our day-to-day lives with the mules. The mules are as big a part in this rodeo as their cowboys/cowgirls. Her smile encouraged me to look closer at the mountains in the background, the flag flying high above the arena and reminded me of how thankful I am for my family and friends who were experiencing this moment with me. Her smile and joy were a reminder to take pleasure in all of the simple things in life and to express that joy when you can.
Click above to watch the Wild Bunch's sale preview performance...
Saddle Mule Auction
The Saddle Mule Auction was held Sunday afternoon. The high selling mule was Tiger, consigned by Jeff and Christina Tift. Tiger was an 11-year-old, 14.2-hand dun horse mule out of a Fjord mare. Tiger was shown all week by Christina and scored a 99 on the trail preview course. He topped the sale when we sold for $15,500.
The gentleman who purchased Tiger raised his card at the first bid and didn’t take it down until he was the last bidder. There was a phone bidder who bid against him for quite a while. Tiger was listed in the sale catalog as, “a very unique and cute mule.” The buyer left the sale after his purchase. Congratulations to Jeff and Christina! They received the high-selling mule consignor saddle.
The second high selling mule was consigned by Tim and Jerry Cobb. Tequila was a 10-year-old, 14.3-hand black horse mule. He was listed in the sale catalog as, “An outstanding mule that you can do anything on.” Tim had shown this mule in the team roping and team sorting events over the week. He was sold for $11,750. Congratulations to the Cobb family!
There were two mules that sold for between $9,000-10,000; four mules that sold for between $8000-8999; five mules that sold between $7000-7999; and seven mules that sold between $6000-6999. There were around 15 mules that did not sell. The buyer who purchases mule to be used on the Grand Canyon trips was there and bought several (6-8) mules to take back.
“We had 16 mules bring under $2,500, so we have a great variety of mules for all types of pocket books,” said Kay.
In my opinion, there were several bargains that buyers missed out on. I also thought as with every auction, some mules brought more than they were probably worth and some mules brought less than they were probably worth. That is certainly part of the game. I think overall most sellers were pleased with their sales. I noticed that several of the sellers who had passed-out mules in the ring were talking with bidders outside at the pens about purchasing the mule. In this situation, the seller notifies the office and all sales go through the office. There is no alley trading at this sale.
One of the cuter consignments of the sale was number 110 in the catalog, June Bug. June Bug was a smooth mouth, 13.1-hand mare mule that was consigned by Caden and Cason Gines (Jake’s grandsons). She was shown by Caden in the trail preview and scored a 98. She brought $1,500 in the sale and was probably the best babysitter at the sale. Jake indicated that his grandsons had played for hours in the backyard with June Bug.
I think that despite the fear of equine herpes and the high price of diesel, the buyers and spectators were in high numbers. It also appears that 99% of the consigned mules were also present at the sale.
The weather was really beautiful. The event is well organized and run in a timely manner. It is a great way to spend Father’s Day. If you want to consign a mule to the sale in 2012, you will need to contact Jake in January 2012. There are very limited slots to sell a mule in the auction and you will need to prepare a video submission so that Jake and Kay can review the mule before they agree to put it in the catalog. Keep in mind that once your mule arrives – Jake may still reject it from being in the sale if the mule doesn’t perform to the high quality that he has set.
Make plans now to attend next year – it is a great event.