Hubby was reading the Wall Street Journal today and he forwarded a video they had featured on MULE JUMPING.
Immediately my mind went to the Meredith Hodges type of mule who does beautiful jumping in English tack over flowery standards.
This is a regular ol’ mule jumpin’ over a regular ol’ fence!
HOW IT BEGAN
They say it began in the South where mules are used in hunting. The lore goes like this:
Mule jumping originally began when raccoon hunters taught their mules to jump fences on hunts. The riders dismounted, climbed over the fence, placed a blanket on the fence so the mule could see it, and urged their mules to jump over.
Then it expanded.
WHAT ELSE ARE WE GONNA DO AT THE FAIR?
Mule jumping caught on as a fun County Fair activity.
Well known jumping mules would compete. The rules were fairly basic:
The day’s events culminate with three jumping contests for two divisions: adult (owners age fifteen and over) and youth (owners fourteen and under). Owners walk their bareback mules forward and coax them to jump a barricade made of parallel steel posts and a movable crossbar covered by a tarp. The tarp helps the mule to see the barrier. The jump is not a running jump but is made from a standstill. Leah Patton of the American Donkey and Mule Society says that, while “a horse can’t do it,” the mule is able to jump from a standstill position because it has “unique muscular characteristics” inherited from its “donkey blood line that enables it to basically perform a standing high jump.
The owner may use encouraging words or may pull on reins but is forbidden from touching the mule. The pole is moved higher with each round of jumps, and mules are eliminated until only one mule is left. That mule continues to jump as high as it can and is then declared the winner.”
IT JUST KEPT GETTING BIGGER…
Then, Counties would compete against each other in Mule Jumping. One of the largest Mule Jumping extravaganzas is the Pea Ridge Mule Jump.
The Pea Ridge Mule Jump includes a variety of contests: barrel racing, pole bending, flag racing, a halter class in which mules are judged for their looks, a stick mule race for children, hog calling, and the Negel Hall Memorial Award for best overall mule. The day’s events culminate with three jumping contests for two divisions: adult (owners age fifteen and over) and youth (owners fourteen and under).
This competition originated when local resident Colonel Negel Hall, along with his friend Don Shockley from Powell, Missouri, set up the event at the town’s Fall Festival in 1985. Those early contests also included coon dog competitions. In 1989, the festival became officially known as the Pea Ridge Mule Jump. Once organized by the chamber of commerce and the local Lions’ Club, the event has been sponsored since 2002 by the Pea Ridge Parks Commission and a group of supporters, the Friends of Pea Ridge. The price of admission for spectators, set at five dollars as of 2009, goes to support local non-profit organizations and programs. Tents on the grounds have vendors selling food and crafts, as well as presenters showing off their antique tractors.
In 2008, the crowd numbered more than 1,000.
THEY REFUSE WHEN THEY ARE DONE
A great thing about a mule is that he/she will refuse when they think something is not safe. You cannot get them to do what they don’t think they should do, especially in front of a Fair Crowd. Simple as that. When the mule is done, the mule is done.
MY FAVORITE PART
My favorite part in all of this is that the world record holder – who just competed last week – is a 30 year old jenny named, Powder River. You go, Girl!