Thursday, May 15, 2014

The One Arm Bandit and His Mule Moe

by Brenda Ammons

I know that this is going to be hard to believe, but Bob and I just took a long weekend without Molly Shakespear. What might be even harder to believe is that, though we are hard core mule lovers, we went to an event in Murfreesboro, Tenn., called “Road To The Horse.”

Now, we do realize that without a horse, we would not have our beloved Molly Shakespear. So, we do love the horses, too. Just in case some of you have never heard of “Road To The Horse,” I will give you a short introduction. Three competitors have three hours to take a horse that has never had any human contact before, except for vet care and loading for transport, and break it.

This year, Bob and I had the pleasure of watching Richard Winters, Craig Cameron, and Ken McNabb show their incredible talents in the art of training and horsemanship. I am grateful to our friends Mike and Barb Westphal for inviting us to “Road To The Horse.”

As much as I was enjoying “Road To The Horse,” I was also thinking how much I would love to see a mule. It turned out I wouldn’t have to wait long, because, much to my surprise, I soon saw a mule!

This is where my story really begins. In all my life, I have never been a witness to such a sight. I’m sure that I can’t describe accurately enough what I saw, but I am going to give it my best shot. I’m still saying, “WOW!”

The mule entertainment I enjoyed was provided by John Payne, also know as “The One Arm Bandit.” John came riding out into the arena on a mule. Moe is a beautiful mule and the performance that John and Moe gave brought me to my feet with excitement. Two buffalo followed John and Moe.

My first thoughts were “Nice mule, but what could a man, a mule, and two buffalo possibly do that would earn John the title of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s (PRCA) ‘Specialty Act of the Year’ award nine times?” 
Well, I will tell you what they did to earn this award. While running wide open on Moe, John ran the buffalo up on top of his trailer. The buffalo came back down to the ground while John and Moe stayed on top. The truck started pulling the trailer as Moe started spinning on top of the trailer. With the truck and trailer still in motion, John rode Moe down the front of the trailer, jumped onto the bed of the truck and then back down to the ground. As I am sitting here writing this I still can not tell you what a site this was to witness.

After John and Moe’s performance I had the honor of going “backstage” to spend time talking to John and taking pictures of him and Moe. All I could think to say was, “Man, that was great!” I almost couldn’t speak, I was just so amazed by the sight that I had just seen.

For more information about the One Arm Bandit, I would encourage you to visit John’s web site is very interesting to read, plus there is a short YouTube video that I know you will enjoy seeing. I don’t care how far I have to drive, I will see the One Arm Bandit perform his magic again. Do yourself a favor and find out where the One Arm Bandit will be performing and make plans to attend. You will be glad you did! I would like to thank Ken Bastura from Colchest, Conn., for sending me the pictures of John and Moe on top of the trailer. I think Molly Shakespear needs to buy one of those big boy camera’s like Ken has. z

I want to let you all know that I did not forget Molly Shakespear while I was gone. I met a very nice lady from Thompson, Ohio. She and her husband make custom sized halters and monogram them with your equine’s name on the nose piece and sides. So, all I will tell you is be looking for Molly Shakespear in her new hot pink halter. Visit to design a halter for your best (mule) friend.

Safe and Happy Riding!


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