Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Jake Clark Mule Days 2017

by Lenice Basham, PairADice Mules, Belle, Mo.

The 20th Annual Jake Clark Mule Days was one for the records.  Not because of a record setting mule price – but for the quality of mules that were offered for sale this year.  This group was one of the best across the board that have ever gone through the sale ring.  Over 30 different mules scored a 100 on the trail course.  This wasn’t because the judges were handing out high scores, but because they genuinely deserved them.
The Jake Clark Mule Day experience begins on Wednesday with Mounted Shooting and ends on Sunday when the last mule exits the sale ring.  For those there to purchase a mule, this experience allows for five days of watching, riding, petting and talking mules with the sellers. As Jake encourages potential buyers in the catalog, “Please be sure to talk with the consignors, investigate the mules qualities and be honest with yourself about your abilities to get matched up with the right mule.” 
It would be hard to find a buying experience anywhere else that allows you such access and such observation of mules for sale. Buyers could spend months traveling from state to state and farm to farm and only see 10 or so mules. This event allows you to see 83 high quality mules in one place for five days. Buyers will have already targeted mules they are interested in through advertising in Mules and More and the online catalogue which provides extra photographs and links to videos of the mule that presents additional information. It really is an amazing experience for mule buyers,  one of the most unique experiences that buyers can’t get anywhere else in the world.  
Every mule that goes through the sale must go through the trail course. The obstacles are those that will help a buyer by providing skills that would occur when they get their mule home. The trail course requires saddling, bridling, loading in a trailer – certainly things that every buyer would need to see. There are obstacles like crossing downed timber, standing still, crossing a bridge, dragging a log, leading another mule, crossing a creek, going through a gate, and it ends with putting on a rain slicker. We have all been there when it starts to rain and somebody’s mule runs off when they are trying to put on their slicker. You might not think it is a skill you might want in a mule – but it sure comes in handy when it is necessary and you are caught in the rain.  The trail course provides buyers the opportunity to watch, take notes and eliminate mules on their list just as much as it allows for buyers to put a circle and a star next to the mule they love in the catalog.  
In order to get a mule in the sale, consignors have to be a repeat, reputable seller or submit a video and undergo a screening process to consign a mule.  Most sellers have consigned for multiple years.  Jason Wilf, Pleasant Plains, Ark., and Jeff Tift, Sheridan, Wyo., have been a part of the sale for almost every sale Jake has had in the 20 year event. Each year, about 10 new consignors are added to the list of approved consignors.  All consignors submit their mule’s information in January. Jake reviews each mule submission and those that do not meet criteria are excluded from the sale. His goal is to bring together the best quality mules in the industry. He sets up the entire experience to show the best qualities of the breed and each year he accomplishes this by bringing better trained and better minded mules to his sale. 
The high selling mule, a 6-year-old, 16.1 hand black mare mule, was consigned by Jeff and Christina Tift. The catalog listing indicated that the mule was a very classy coal black mule. Jeff really liked the mule and had used her for most everything on the ranch and in the mountains. He had roped cattle, started and flagged colts, hunted  and guided on her, rode her down the highway to church and just truly enjoyed her.  She was noted to have a good ground covering walk, be soft in the mouth and ribs and had a great neckrein. She was thought to be out of a Thoroughbred mare and a mammoth jack. The buyer spent hours talking and watching and visiting with the Tift’s during the week.  The mule brought $28,500 when she exited the ring. 

JEFF TIFT riding Raven, who he and wife CHRISTINA sold as the high selling mule of the sale. Raven was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Roger Haley of Ventura, Calif., for $28,500

There was a tie for the reserve high selling mule. Both PairADice’s Piper (consigned by Loren Basham, Belle, Mo.) and Miss Kitty (consigned by TJ and Jake Clark, Ralston, WY) brought $26,000.  PairADice’s Piper was a 10-year-old, 14.1 hand sorrel mare mule. She was an outstanding trail mule, the perfect size to get on and off of, and was stout enough to carry anybody. She had been ridden endless miles on the trail and would go anywhere you pointed her. She is going to make her new buyer the perfect trail riding partner.  Miss Kitty was a 6-year-old, 15.2 hand black with blue roan highlights, mare mule.  She was used in TJ and Jake’s strings for three seasons on the mountain, over an extensive number of trails during their summer and fall season both being ridden and being packed.  TJ used her all spring to ride on cattle and doctor calves.  They felt the best part of her was her terrific mind. 
Reserve High Selling Mules Piper and Miss Kitty, who both sold for $26,000. Piper was consigned and shown above at left by LOREN BASHAM. Miss Kitity was consigned by TJ CLARK and shown above with CORT Snidecor in the parade

*These are based only on the sale prices that were announced in the ring at the time of the sale. This does not include those mules that were declared as a no sale in the ring and then sold after the sale.
Under 14 hands:  $7,750 (only 1 mule)
14. to 14.3 hands $8,447 (24 mules)
15 to 15.3 hands $10,338 (34 mules)
16 hands $11,718 (8 mules)
John Mules  $8,900 (30 mules)
Molly Mules  $11,284 (36 mules)
Eight mules were passed out in the ring, and six of these sold outside before the sale was over
First time sellers:  Average $7,357.  The range was $3,000 to $18,500 for new consignors, with Chris Knudson as the highest first time seller at $18,500.  He rode his mule Barbie bareback and bridleless into the sale ring.  She was a 15.1 hand, 7-year-old, sorrel mare mule.  
The second highest first time seller price was $10,500 consigned by Ike Sankey, who sold Amanda, an 8-year-old, 16 hand sorrel mare mule.  
We had beautiful weather for the parade and rodeo on Saturday. The parade was again led by Codi and Colby Gines pack string. It is a beautiful thing to see 25 loose mules lead the parade, with the mountains in the background and the wind softly blowing. The rodeo was high action and a great fun-filled afternoon. If you have never seen a wild cow milking in action, you need to attend next year. It’s an arena full of cows, mules, cowboys/cowgirls and ropes – along with yelling, cussing and bawling cows and a lot of laughter.  The mule race was exciting again this year with Loren and his son Cole’s race mule, Betty, taking home the buckle. It is a tough race across a rock filled pasture that is no way a flat race track.  The mules start at the end of a pasture and race toward Jake’s barns and the arena. The crowd stands along the fence line cheering their favorite. Team roping was fast, serious and professional this year. With ropers like Matt Zacanella and Junior Deiz, along with the ropers that come all the way from Texas, with times of under five seconds the norm.  It is a lot of fun to watch. Alyssa Fournier from Oregon had the fastest pole and barrel run. She had nice runs at the rodeo, as well as at the barrel races all week held in the evenings. The rodeo is a family event – with all ages of the family competing in the day’s events. 

Between the family friendly atmosphere and the quality mules everywhere you look, this event is a great way to spend a beautiful Father’s Day weekend in Ralston.


LACEY WILF riding Loretta, a 6-year-old 14.1 hand mare mule who sold for $6,000

Wesley Wells, Missouri

Driving CodI and Colby Gines’S pack string down the highway to start the parade 

Consignors and exhibitors riding in Saturday’s parade

BRUCE HOHULIN, Morton, Ill., riding Lady A (left)

MARK BAILEY at Saturday’s rodeo

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