originally published in 9/09
by Anna Arnold
Great friends and beautiful mules were aplenty at the Turlock Fair Mule Show. Turlock is located close to Sacramento, Calif., which is just a short little drive for us...only like 400 miles.
The weather was in the 100s most of the days. Luckily for us, it cooled off in the evening.
I left my mules at home and rode up with Debbie Humphreys, Kris Keeler, Tucker Slender and friends, and we all camped under what trees we could find.
A high line was set up for the mules, and they too enjoyed what shade they could find.
The show offered many classes, from halter to cattle sorting. Friday evening, the game classes were held, which were well attended.
Saturday the riders were out with their mules at the first call at 8 a.m., and some were still in the arena when the last team rode out of the cattle sorting at 10:30 p.m.
The mules and riders were exhausted. But Sunday morning they were up and at it again.
Some of the mules had had it and let their riders know it with refusals and ringing of tails. One of our good old reining mules said it was too hot for him and he refused to work. A few of the young green mules sold out on their riders.
With the desire to win year end awards, sometimes we get so wrapped up in winning all the points we can, we forget that these animals do their best for us.
And what kind of reward do we give them? We spur and whip in the game events, even when they are running as fast as they can, and push and push in the other events. Some of the sneaky riders jerk their heads off in the pleasure class when the judge is not looking. I just about ruined my good mule in the quest for another saddle.
Another thing I am seeing a lot of is judges placing a low head carriage and slow gaits.
In the American Mule Association, we have very strict rules that the natural head carriage is to be used and judges should penalize those who carry them too high or low. Some of the judges who are not so familiar with mules are using the Quarter Horse lethargic look, as well.
If we are going to keep riding with a natural head carriage and way of going, we must not send our mules to trainers who train that way and we must ask the show chairman to stop using such judges.
If you are tired of the way our mules are headed, pick up your pen and write to your mule association and let them know how you feel.
I love these old, big eared guys and hate to see them being made into these unnatural-looking movers. Those who think little ears and slow gates are “in” are not true mule lovers. Most of these people couldn’t make it in the horse show world and now they are here to see if they can change our mules.
Well off my soap box. I just can’t seem to stay off it.
While in Turlock, I was invited to have lunch with a mule lover and one who recognizes their talents in the feed lot and on the track, John Kidd. John has some very nice trail mules, along with his race mules. John invited me to go over to the off-track betting and have lunch.
His friend Bill May joined us. He and John make videos about the Turlock Fair and Mule Show.
We were there for a mule race and had fun watching our bet run back and forth across the track, but we didn’t win anything on that race.
We were talking with Bill and telling him about when I rode in the Rose Parade with all the rain, when John noticed a horse with “rose” in its name come up. John placed a bet on it and he won enough to pay for our lunches.
It was cool in there and we hated to leave, but the mule show was going on and we couldn’t miss a class. Back out into the heat we went.
One of the young riders that caught my eye was Dakota Massey, better know as Cody. This young man is 9 years old and loves to ride mules. So Tucker Slender offered him Rosie to ride. (Rosie is her ranch name, but she is the great retired race mule called Sanger Red. She had won many championships at Bishop in cattle classes and Tucker has also ridden her to many victories in jumping.)
In the barrel race, Rosie did a fast move and Dakota went off. She stopped and stood like a statue while this little guy got up and got back on her, and they continued the race. He took a bump to the head but had his crash helmet on. Cody was very glad he had it on as it had a pretty good scratch on it.
Rosie is one of many race mules that have gone on to be excellent using mules. She ran with the best, placing behind Black Ruby and winning over $30,000 in her racing career.
Another youngster that I had the privilege of riding with this spring is Lindsey Michaelis. She is 10 years old and lives in Lakeside where she attends school. She is a student in driving with LaDonn Hatley at Sioux Munyons ranch in Lakeside, Calif. Her passion for horses and donkeys has been rewarded and she will be driving Sioux’s big Belgian horses in some of the coming draft shows.
Lindsey’s driving in the Coronado Parade on the Fourth of July was excellent. She drove Willie the Magnificent, Sioux’s donkey, and was sure a crowd pleaser. She wore an outfit that we made for my friend Lois Carritte some years ago. She was also a great hand cleaning my boots before the parade!
Our next adventure will be spending five days at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa. I, along with others, will do mule and donkey exhibitions for those days. We will pack up Sunday after the performance and head up to Ventura, where we will have a show Monday and a drill team exhibition on Tuesday.
I will be at the National Chuck Wagon Races in Clinton, Ark...hope to see you all there.
Look for me on the trail or in the show ring. I’m the granny wearing a big hat and riding a fine mule.