In 2006 the Skyhorse Publishing Company produced a beautifully illustrated (with both photos and artwork) book titled The Natural Superiority of Mules. Other editors followed, in 2014, and in 2016. I was asked to do the forward to the 2016 edition, which I enthusiastically did because of my fondness and respect for this unique domestic equine, and because I find the book to be such a fascinating read.
From the late eighteenth century, until the mid-century, the mule, sired by a donkey and out of a mare was essential to agriculture industries like logging and mining. This was true in many other countries, but especially true in the U.S.A. because of our vast landscape, topography and varied climate. Mules are sure-footed, physically tough and versatile.
The role of the working mule still exists, but like the horse, modern technology has resulted in a majority of these domestic animals being used increasingly for recreational purposes.
I am writing this before our annual visit to Bishop Mule Days, where at the show, the parade, the races, the rodeo event and the entertainment, the extreme versatility of mules and their ability is dramatically displayed.
Whenever I attend Mule Days, I relive the experiences my wife, my children and I have enjoyed on mules. There were the pack trips, the horse shows where our mules beat horses, the cattle roundups, the 1984 Olympics in California where one of our mules was invited to do demonstrations of Western and English horsemanship including a challenging jumping course.
But, above all, I treasure the experience of going to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a mule. One of the world’s great sights is that canyon viewed from its rim, all the way down to the roaring Colorado River.
I feel blessed to have seen this wonderful spectacle from the back of a mule, and the back of a horse, and yes from a raft on the river. What inspiring adventures, Unforgettable! They enriched my life.
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