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Jake Clark's Mule Days

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Soapweed

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Jake Clark's 8th annual Mule Days Rodeo and Auction was held this past Father's Day weekend in Ralston, Wyoming. This is a fun event that Mrs. Soapweed and I had the pleasure of attending this year for our first time. We left the Nebraska Sandhills early last Friday morning, and headed straight west down Highway 20. We had breakfast in Harrison, then passed on through Lusk, Casper, Shoshoni and on to Meeteetse. There we drove west up a beautiful mountain valley to check out the historic Pitchfork Ranch. It is a nice looking well-kept place, and appears to still be an efficient working cattle ranch. Back in Meeteetse, we had opportunity to go through the local museum, where we especially enjoyed checking out the many famous black and white photographs that Charles Belden made during his years of living on the Pitchfork Ranch.

We had reservations to stay in Cody for the night, and the next morning we went another 17 miles on to Ralston, where the mule festivities were being held. Local ladies served a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, link sausage and pancakes. An all-mule parade was held at 11 a.m., with about a hundred and fifty riders on saddle mules taking part. One mule drawn wagon was also featured. Promptly at 1 p.m. a rodeo got underway. No horses were involved, but riders on mules were entered in team roping, barrel racing, pole bending, and team branding. Bull riding and wild cow milking also livened up the day's activities. Several heats of saddle mule racing were held, and it is absolutely amazing how fast a mule can run. A steak supper and foot-stomping dance rounded out the evening, with "Hurrican Mesa" supplying the music.

After another night's stay in Cody, we were back at Ralston by 7 a.m. on Sunday for cowboy church. Quite a few attended the inspiring service conducted by a local minister. At 9 a.m. the preview of sale mules began in the arena, with opportunity to compare and decide which ones were the best. The sale started at 1 p.m. One hundred and ten saddle mules were put on the block, and also ten very nice yearling futurity mules that were chosen out of twenty-five in competition. A.J. Neumann, DVM, from Iowa was the judge for that event.

The sale was done up right. We were impressed with the professionalism exhibited by Jake Clark, auctioneer Jerry King (from North Carolina), and the whole crew. It was a fun sale that lasted over six hours. When the dust settled, according to my arithmetic, 93 mules sold for an average of $3791 per head. I did get in on a little bit of arm exercise, and bid on four different mules. Being 500 miles from home with no trailer somewhat curtailed my involvement, and we didn't end up buying anything.

One three year old dun horse mule consigned by Jeff Tift, of Cody, Wyoming, especially caught my eye. This good looking nice colored mule stood 15.2 and weighed 1100#. He was registered with the North American Saddle Mule Association, and was by the Grand Champion jack, Diamond Creek Major. His dam was a quarter horse mare, Molly Brown Bee, who had Leo, Clabber Bars and Sugar Bars in her pedigree. Jeff had bought the mule as a yearling and had him going very nicely. He had used the mule to gather horses, move cattle, and had roped both cattle and horses on him, besides occasionally packing him. He was "soft in the mouth and ribs, and he neck reins and side passes." The mule was a great long-eared speciman that anyone would be proud to ride. My final bid was $5500, and someone else's bid of $5600 bought the mule. Oh well, I didn't have to figure out how to get him home. :?

The top seller brought $14,750. A lot of pizzazz on the part of the some of the riders made for an entertaining event. Tom Pannell, from Tennessee, stood on the saddle of his nice looking grey mule and played a tune on his banjo. Then he crawled under the mule and came out between the two hind legs. His efforts paid off, as that mule was the second high seller at $11,000.

Late that afternoon we headed for home, and spent the night in Lovell. Monday we got an early start and enjoyed the scenic route over the top of the Big Horns, coming out at Dayton where we had breakfast. We travelled down the interstate through Sheridan and Gillette and got off at Rapid City. The remainder of our route home passed through Caputa, Scenic, Sharps Corner, Kyle, Allen, Martin and Merriman. All in all, we had a wonderful time and met a lot of very nice people. It was a trip to remember.
 

DOC HARRIS

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Soapweed said:
Jake Clark's 8th annual Mule Days Rodeo and Auction was held this past Father's Day weekend in Ralston, Wyoming. This is a fun event that Mrs. Soapweed and I had the pleasure of attending this year for our first time. We left the Nebraska Sandhills early last Friday morning, and headed straight west down Highway 20. We had breakfast in Harrison, then passed on through Lusk, Casper, Shoshoni and on to Meeteetse. There we drove west up a beautiful mountain valley to check out the historic Pitchfork Ranch. It is a nice looking well-kept place, and appears to still be an efficient working cattle ranch. Back in Meeteetse, we had opportunity to go through the local museum, where we especially enjoyed checking out the many famous black and white photographs that Charles Belden made during his years of living on the Pitchfork Ranch.

We had reservations to stay in Cody for the night, and the next morning we went another 17 miles on to Ralston, where the mule festivities were being held. Local ladies served a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, link sausage and pancakes. An all-mule parade was held at 11 a.m., with about a hundred and fifty riders on saddle mules taking part. One mule drawn wagon was also featured. Promptly at 1 p.m. a rodeo got underway. No horses were involved, but riders on mules were entered in team roping, barrel racing, pole bending, and team branding. Bull riding and wild cow milking also livened up the day's activities. Several heats of saddle mule racing were held, and it is absolutely amazing how fast a mule can run. A steak supper and foot-stomping dance rounded out the evening, with "Hurrican Mesa" supplying the music.

After another night's stay in Cody, we were back at Ralston by 7 a.m. on Sunday for cowboy church. Quite a few attended the inspiring service conducted by a local minister. At 9 a.m. the preview of sale mules began in the arena, with opportunity to compare and decide which ones were the best. The sale started at 1 p.m. One hundred and ten saddle mules were put on the block, and also ten very nice yearling futurity mules that were chosen out of twenty-five in competition. A.J. Neumann, DVM, from Iowa was the judge for that event.

The sale was done up right. We were impressed with the professionalism exhibited by Jake Clark, auctioneer Jerry King (from North Carolina), and the whole crew. It was a fun sale that lasted over six hours. When the dust settled, according to my arithmetic, 93 mules sold for an average of $3791 per head. I did get in on a little bit of arm exercise, and bid on four different mules. Being 500 miles from home with no trailer somewhat curtailed my involvement, and we didn't end up buying anything.

One three year old dun horse mule consigned by Jeff Tift, of Cody, Wyoming, especially caught my eye. This good looking nice colored mule stood 15.2 and weighed 1100#. He was registered with the North American Saddle Mule Association, and was by the Grand Champion jack, Diamond Creek Major. His dam was a quarter horse mare, Molly Brown Bee, who had Leo, Clabber Bars and Sugar Bars in her pedigree. Jeff had bought the mule as a yearling and had him going very nicely. He had used the mule to gather horses, move cattle, and had roped both cattle and horses on him, besides occasionally packing him. He was "soft in the mouth and ribs, and he neck reins and side passes." The mule was a great long-eared speciman that anyone would be proud to ride. My final bid was $5500, and someone else's bid of $5600 bought the mule. Oh well, I didn't have to figure out how to get him home. :?

The top seller brought $14,750. A lot of pizzazz on the part of the some of the riders made for an entertaining event. Tom Pannell, from Tennessee, stood on the saddle of his nice looking grey mule and played a tune on his banjo. Then he crawled under the mule and came out between the two hind legs. His efforts paid off, as that mule was the second high seller at $11,000.

Late that afternoon we headed for home, and spent the night in Lovell. Monday we got an early start and enjoyed the scenic route over the top of the Big Horns, coming out at Dayton where we had breakfast. We travelled down the interstate through Sheridan and Gillette and got off at Rapid City. The remainder of our route home passed through Caputa, Scenic, Sharps Corner, Kyle, Allen, Martin and Merriman. All in all, we had a wonderful time and met a lot of very nice people. It was a trip to remember.
Soapweed - What a GREAT weekend! - and your relating of the trip was well done. Is this a great country - or what??!
 

Soapweed

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Doc, you are right. This is a great country, and the best part is that it is a GREEN country. All the way out and back, on our "circle tour", we were impressed with the pretty green of the hills and mountains. More than adequate rainfall all over western Nebraska, Wyoming, and western South Dakota has made for a great grass year.

Today, I found three bulls in one pasture that are hurt enough that they "can't romance the cows." We decided to go gather them in the coolness of the evening. Mrs. Soapweed, our son, and I loaded our horses on a 24' trailer to haul the seven miles to the neighbor's ranch where the three bulls were located, along with five other bulls and 200 cows, in a four section pasture. We parked the trailer in a fence corner, forming a "V" with the endgate opened near the corner. We rode out and persuaded the bulls to walk a mile to the trailer. They loaded without incident, and we congratulated ourselves that the project went along so smoothly. The thought did cross my mind, and I wondered aloud if we could have pulled it off as easily with the three best mules from the Wyoming sale. Just guessing, probably not. It would have been a fun challenge, though, to have tried. :)
 

Jinglebob

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Hey Soapweed. If you would pay 5600 for a mule that would do what you said he could do, how about the same money for a good looking dun horse who can do all of that and more, plus is safe for anyone and surely a dang site better lookin' than any mule! :shock: Just ask Saddletramp, as he rode him in Rapid at the ropin' last winter! :lol:

Shoot, I'd probably deliver him too! :lol:
 

Soapweed

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Thanks for the offer, Jinglebob. Supply and demand kinda enters in on this deal. There are a lot of good horses around the country. Good mules are few and far between. I have owned many good horses through the years, and enough mules to know that good ones are hard to come by. My dear wife aptly stated one time that, "99% of mules give the rest of them a bad name." That is why we were both so impressed to see so many real top-notch mules, all at the same time at the same place.

I have enough good horses. It would just be fun, for once in my life, to have a really popping good mule. Just for kicks.

Ol' Saddletramp temporarily traded in his chinks, boots and spurs for Bermuda shorts and tennie-boppers. He and his bride have been playing tourist and visiting their son and daughter-in-law in Hawaii. If everything goes according to plan, they should return back to hot hard reality today.
 

Jinglebob

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Yup, them good mules are far and few between. If I sold you the horse, I'd probably be in deep doo for a long time around here as he is the horse that anybody and everybody can ride. Poor old grampa has to ride the young frisky ones! :lol:
When Saddletramp gets back, you better see that he has to work extra hard to make up for all the fun he was having over their in good ol' Howareya! Sure would enjoy a picture of him in his shorts and sandels. Hope he went to the tanning booth before he left or he's gonn'a have a reeeeaaaal bad sunburn! :lol:
 

Jinglebob

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Speakin' of mules, I was visitin' with an older feller from Texas one time. He rides mules all the time as the ground is so rough and rocky where he runs sheep and goats, that they can't keep legs under a horse. I asked him to tell me the real story behind mules. He replied, "Why the first 20 days you ride a mule, you wonder why you ever rode a horse. Then on the 21st day when you go to get on the mule, you'll have some mud on your foot and when you put it in the stirrup, it will slip out and the mule will kick you alongside the head and it just goes downhill from there!" :shock: :lol:
 

Mike

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Although I have never "plowed" or worked a mule I remember when my dad had his last pair of "matched" mules and do recall watching him prepare the garden. Gee - Haw - and Hyup! He was forever pulling tractors and trucks out of the mud with them. Anyone who got stuck in a really inaccessible place had no other choice. Still have all the old harnesses, a moldboard plow and harrow. He tells of when breaking gound in early spring and still cool the boys would stick their bare feet in a fresh steaming mule manure pile to warm them.
There is a guy in the next county that "pulpwoods" with mules and oxen still today. Doesn't rut up a place like skidders do.
 

DOC HARRIS

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Mike said:
Although I have never "plowed" or worked a mule I remember when my dad had his last pair of "matched" mules and do recall watching him prepare the garden. Gee - Haw - and Hyup! He was forever pulling tractors and trucks out of the mud with them. Anyone who got stuck in a really inaccessible place had no other choice. Still have all the old harnesses, a moldboard plow and harrow. He tells of when breaking gound in early spring and still cool the boys would stick their bare feet in a fresh steaming mule manure pile to warm them.
There is a guy in the next county that "pulpwoods" with mules and oxen still today. Doesn't rut up a place like skidders do.
Just to sort o' "Grease the Skids" for an onslaught of "Great Mule Stories" I will make this profound statement: "Mules Are Smarter Than Humans!" Now, all you experienced Mule Skinners - GO for it!
 

Mike

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DOC HARRIS said:
Mike said:
Although I have never "plowed" or worked a mule I remember when my dad had his last pair of "matched" mules and do recall watching him prepare the garden. Gee - Haw - and Hyup! He was forever pulling tractors and trucks out of the mud with them. Anyone who got stuck in a really inaccessible place had no other choice. Still have all the old harnesses, a moldboard plow and harrow. He tells of when breaking gound in early spring and still cool the boys would stick their bare feet in a fresh steaming mule manure pile to warm them.
There is a guy in the next county that "pulpwoods" with mules and oxen still today. Doesn't rut up a place like skidders do.
Just to sort o' "Grease the Skids" for an onslaught of "Great Mule Stories" I will make this profound statement: "Mules Are Smarter Than Humans!" Now, all you experienced Mule Skinners - GO for it!

Just making that statement PROVES that they are smarter than some! :wink:
 

DOC HARRIS

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Mike said:
DOC HARRIS said:
Mike said:
Although I have never "plowed" or worked a mule I remember when my dad had his last pair of "matched" mules and do recall watching him prepare the garden. Gee - Haw - and Hyup! He was forever pulling tractors and trucks out of the mud with them. Anyone who got stuck in a really inaccessible place had no other choice. Still have all the old harnesses, a moldboard plow and harrow. He tells of when breaking gound in early spring and still cool the boys would stick their bare feet in a fresh steaming mule manure pile to warm them.
There is a guy in the next county that "pulpwoods" with mules and oxen still today. Doesn't rut up a place like skidders do.
Just to sort o' "Grease the Skids" for an onslaught of "Great Mule Stories" I will make this profound statement: "Mules Are Smarter Than Humans!" Now, all you experienced Mule Skinners - GO for it!

Just making that statement PROVES that they are smarter than some! :wink:
Hah! :lol: :lol: Mike, I wish I had thought of that FIRST. GREAT!
 

Soapweed

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Faster Horses: "Anyone who rides a mule is too poor to ride a horse and too proud to ride a cow."

I know that is a true and profound statement, but after attending the auction and mule rodeo in Ralston, Wyoming, it is realized that there are some darned good mules out there. It was a fun event, and kinda whetted my appetite to once again own a mule. Sometimes my dear wife thinks I need counseling, bless her heart. :wink:

One time she and I both showed up at a trail ride mounted on some colorful mules we had acquired from Stillwater, Oklahoma. A neighbor who is a top cattleman was there, and when he saw my conveyance, said, "If I'd known you didn't have anything to ride, I could have brought an extra horse." Oh well, we got to the other end of the ride just as he did. :)
 

Ranchero

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I love horses and really enjoy riding a horse in most places. But, there are places on my ranch where riding a horse could be a real danger. We use mules to access some of the more mountainous, steep and rocky country. The mules are much stronger and sure footed than the horses. Also, one can maintain a much smaller remuda if you use mules. We can ride one mule for 3 to 4 days working and checking cattle where it takes 3 horses rotated daily to do the work of one mule. Mules cost more than horses, here in the high sierra where I live. The vaquerros here prefer to ride mules over horses. I am sure you can do anything on a mule that a horse can do and sometimes more.
 

Faster horses

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After my little joke, I must post that I have a lot of respect for mules. My grandfather used to raise mules in Missouri. He crossed draft mares to get them and they were mighty mules.

It is well-known that it takes a better hand to break a mule than to break a horse. It is said that horses never forget but they will forgive. Mules don't forgive, so you have to be very careful.

A man in W. Montana crossed with Thoroughbred mares and those mules were 16 hands, graceful and beautiful. Drummond Mule Days are held in Drummond, Mt. every June and I have seen some awesome mules.

Yep, I do have a lot of respect for a good mule; and thanks for the report Soapweed. Pretty cool that you have such an open mind on things.
 

Soapweed

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Here are some photos from Jake Clark's Mule Days, a fun event:


Great Dane in the Morning

Matthews' Mules in Motion

Mommas and a Mule

Jake Clark on his motorized mule
 

Soapweed

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Some "computer cookies" messed this deal up. Here (hopefully) are some more pictures:


Little Bitty Baby Mule

More mules

Saddle mule race

Wild cow milking with mules
 

Brad S

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Soapweed, arround here Fox Trotter mules or gaited mules are the deal. I have a neighbor, Major Cokely, that literally can sell more mules than he can buy. I don't have the temperment for a mule, but I can admire their toughness.
 

nr

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time for dumb question: "Wild cow milking with mules" looks like Bedlam! I don't understand how/what it is except maybe a good way to get trampled.
 

Soapweed

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nr said:
time for dumb question: "Wild cow milking with mules" looks like Bedlam! I don't understand how/what it is except maybe a good way to get trampled.

You are right, it is Bedlam. The man mounted on the mule ropes the cow, and his two (or three, depending on the rules of that contest) pedestrian partners run in to assist. One goes for the head, one for the tail, and one does the "milking". A few drops in the bottle works, as long as it drips out for the judge to see, after the milker has run back to the designated area. Keep in mind there are several other teams all out in the arena participating at the same time, so you not only have to watch your own cow, but all the others, too. Many times the bovines are "on the fight" which adds to the consternation of the cowboys and the delight of the crowd.

No self-respecting cowboy would even consider "milking" a cow in this fashion at home, but it is amazing what a little crowd encouragement will pressure out of his public performance. Often a little "bottled bravado" had been consumed, which adds to the bravery and assumed abilities of the participant. This event is always a crowd pleaser, for much the same reason that bull riding and NASCAR are. Everybody loves a good wreck.
 

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