I have a very good friend who has a very good mule that she adores. His name is Charley and she says that “you’ll have to bury me with him…” when he goes. Bonnie, my friend, adores Charley.
Now, Charley isn’t your ordinary mule. He was the American Mule Association’s 1998 Champion All Around Mule. Nice!
This is especially remarkable since Charley is tiny. Well, not teeny tiny, but he is a small mule. But, don’t let that fool you… he kicks it, for sure! He can barrel race, pole bend, do any trail class and carry a flag better than most of them.
For me, I trail ride with Bonnie who always rides Charley. Man, that mule is stoic and opinionated at the same time. He tells you how he feels, but he does what Bonnie wants.
However, it wasn’t always that way. Bonnie tells a story of her first ride where Charley took off with her and they went careening down several yards of Snowy River stuff until he came to a stop at a barbed wire fence. She says he just looked at her (she was still on…) and seemed to say, “Hmmm, you’re alright…”. Bonnie hasn’t had any trouble since. They are like the best dance partners. It is lovely to watch. Charley is a fine example of all that you can do with a mule.
Mr Prima Donna, Charley, doesn’t like anyone else messing with him. Only Bonnie can groom him, only Bonnie can clip him, and only Bonnie can ride him. He hollers for her every time he sees her and his stall has to be “just so”. If anything is out of order, he lets her know — he lets the whole neighborhood know…!
BISHOP MULE DAYS
Since I have never gone to Bishop Mule Days, I really have no commentary other than what I’ve gleaned from Bonnie and her husband, Phil Easley, who take a pack team every year. Their ranch is called, Easley Ranch, and they raise incredible mules.
So, here is a pictorial. (I grabbed her photo album…) I’ll try to describe what she told me when she was flipping through her Momma Brag book. Here goes!
1) The pack team has to race a course with their gear on.
2) Every year, there is a contest for what the pack team packs… This year, the special pack was a boat!
3) Here is the team in the parade wearing their packs.
4) I love this… the mules have to go backwards through this obstacle. They are led by the horse and have to do what the rider tells them WITHOUT HITTING ANY POLES. The Easley Ranch mules win often and you can see why…
5) Here is Bonnie putting Charley through his paces.
6) I wanted to show you the size of the event. Many attend. I think over 800 mules.
7) Of course, you gotta be in the opening ceremonies…
So there you have a small pictorial of the Bishop Mule Days through the eyes of the Easley Photo Album.
From my point of view, I love riding with Bonnie and Charley. Just about nothing upsets him.. and after my horses have gotten used to the fact that they are trail riding with a mule, things always go more smoothly if Charley is around. In fact, I ask her to ride with me whenever I have a young horse that needs a big brother on the trail.
Isn’t he purty? Charley is one in a million and I’m glad I know him.
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The October Bucket Fund will benefit Honey Bandit, the most neglected BLM mustang baby who is struggling to survive. To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible foal, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)