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2013 Trail Riding Issue
The April issue of Mules and More is our 3rd annual trail riding issue. Throughout this issue, you will find everything you need to get ready for trail riding season: we have stories and photos from subscribers, some of our staff writers focused on trail riding,  and we gathered our favorite trail riding picks in our trail riding guide. We have gathered lots of tips and tricks, from what to bring on the trail to how to get out there more often. This is the online preview - for the whole issue, check your mailbox (if you are a subscriber) and enjoy. If not, click here to purchase a single copy!

2013 Trail Guide (opens in a PDF)
Tips and Tricks Preview:

Granny’s Trail Tips

by Anna Arnold, Romoland, Calif., fastmule@live.com

It’s time to think of the routine check-up for the mules; teeth need to be checked, worming and shots are all due around this time also. With traveling to so many outside places, it is essential for all who show and trail ride to keep up on vaccinations. Watering out of community water is not a good idea; take your own water and container when possible. I have a collapsible bucket that fits in my cantle bag and use it if water is available from a source other than the common watering hole.

Clean the pens upon your arrival before you use them. If you can, put fresh shavings down. Also, clean your area before you leave. Most of the horse camps in this area are now being run by volunteers, and for us to be able to use these sites it is our responsibility to clean and pick up our own litter. If trash containers are full, take your trash with you; don’t pile it up for critters to scatter about.

Another thing with trail riding days approaching be sure you have an animal and human first aid kit. It doesn’t need to contain a lot. I have a small bag with blood stop, vet wrap, sanitary napkins, which work great for pressure bandages, as well as many other uses, and a bag of bandages, duct tape and baling twine. If you are going out for more than a day ride you will want to take a larger supply such as a stitching kit, bute, and granule tranquilizer. Just be prepared. Don’t forget a small flashlight, and check the batteries before you leave.

Keep much of the same items in your mule trailer. I also keep a small package of meat tenderizer, which works great on insect stings. Just dampen the area and put a little tenderizer directly on the spot. You can also purchase a bug sting stick. Take these with you when you ride.

I have health problems and don’t put my meds in my saddle bag. Ladies: I hook them to my bra, that way if I am separated from my mule I still have them with me. You should do the same if you need emergency meds. And, don’t forget water, small amounts can be carried in a fanny pack with your meds if you have more than your bra can carry.  Okay, you’re ready to pack up and ride!


Subscriber Stories Preview:

Mules and Friends Make Trip of a Lifetime Possible

by Dolores Haisler, Elgin, Texas

Photo: ELIZABETH MOODY, SANDY SMITH, DOLORES HAISLER and DARLENE LITTLE of Marble Falls, Texas, in Arizona

I am a 56 year old woman who feels like I am getting all my childhood wishes answered. I have always wanted to ride. I grew up with my grandparents, and my grandfather always had a horse. I too had a Shetland pony but just never got to be a great rider or had the opportunity to ride with others. About 20 years ago I bought a horse from my uncle. I rode some, living out in the country, but didn't have any girlfriends who rode and my husband was a cow man not a horse man.

About nine years ago my daughter wanted a horse. My husband accompanied her to a 4-H class that was being held at our local vets office. He came home thinking horses are just too much trouble and have too many issues that can go wrong with them. I don't remember how we decided on mules, but we went to our local horse sale and bought a beautiful red mare mule we named Chula. She was a beautiful, sweet mule but not being a strong rider I was afraid she was too much mule for me and my daughter. We eventually sold her. I still miss her. We then bought a little mule at an auction. Yep, bad news. We met a mule trainer who convinced us she would make a good riding mule until she threw me on a fence, not once, but twice. You have heard of if you get thrown off get back on, ha. I did and she succeeded to walk with me calmly and then got nuts again and this time I was down for the count. As it turned out our "mule trainer" suddenly decided the mule had a black heart and we needed to sell her. No problem on my end. I actually remember trading her for some feed.

Then the woman who we had sold Chula to called and said she had a mule for sale. We drove down to see him and  I liked him. He had beautiful brown eyes and was big. Big enough to tote me around and not make me feel too guilty about my weight. Petite would not be a word used to describe me. I brought Ben home without riding him and soon found out he was pretty green, but not mean. We grew to love one another. There were times I would get mad at him and tell my husband I wanted to get rid of him for this reason or that, but my husband always reminded me of how gentle and good natured he was.

We were looking for another mule for my daughter and ran into an ad for a mule we were interested in. Elizabeth Moody sold us a fine mule named Simple Sarah and ended up becoming a great friend. She gave me a name of a local woman in my area that she knew who rode and owned mules as well. We took Sarah home and I had problems with her. I got frustrated and called this woman, Rhonda, and asked if she could please help me with my mule problem. She was at our house within the hour. It turns out the mule wasn’t the problem, I was. Rhonda invited me to go to a local riding place, Mckinney Roughs. It’s only about a 30 minute drive from our house. She introduced me to several of her riding girlfriends and now I have wonderful girlfriends, pretty close to my age, who I ride with and invite me to ride all the time; more offers than I can participate in since I am still working full time. The friendships I have made with women who also enjoy riding is priceless. I met another group of galloping grannies, as we called ourselves, and while the club fizzed out, I gained two very special women friends. One of my girlfriends is in her early 70's and still rides all the time with her granddaughter. She loves her horses and she loves my Ben.

I could go on and on about Ben, this gentle mule whom I have come to love more than I could ever explain in words. He is young, only 11, so I hope he is my lover boy for many years to come. I have worked and worked with him and WE have become very good partners. I had the opportunity to take a clinic with Steve Edwards and just weeks ago returned from Arizona where I took an eight day trip with four girlfriends. I was anxious before the trip, wondering whether I should or not. I decided to cowgirl up and left my husband, who encouraged me to go on this trip of a lifetime. We stayed at the Steve Edwards ranch and he took us out riding in the beautiful Arizona Superstition Mountains. While there we met his apprentice, a young gentleman, Dan. Dan and Steve personally gave me pointers all week long and we rode some areas that I know I will never get to ride again. The memories were priceless. At Steve's  I also met an artist friend of his named Windy who is working on a beautiful piece of "threading," in which she takes Ben’s picture and will freelance his profile with thread. I am sure I am not explaining the process right, however it is beautiful art.

Windy took us on a trail ride at a local trail head. It was absolutely heaven. She, too, had some very helpful tips for me. I have been riding Ben for about eight years now and  we have come a very long way together.  I just can’t see myself riding another mule, not to mention that my friends all love Ben, too. He did wonderfully, carrying me on the Arizona trail rides. We had five wonderful trips up and down the beautiful Arizona mountains. 

I know this story goes on and on but it was nice to reminisce about how I got started riding. I live through Granny's  articles when she writes about going here and there on her fine looking mule. My trip to Arizona really made me appreciate my mule and my girlfriends who have helped me become a stronger rider. They couldn't do anything about the love I have for Ben because its a love that just can’t get stronger.