My father, Allen P. Bell, was a stubborn Norwegian. And if you believe my wife, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. But still, even with that reputation, when you begin a sentence with, “That old boy is stubborn as a…” the words Bell or Norwegian do not come to mind. No, only one word ends that sentence—mule!
So, it’s about time we paid tribute to these stubborn, but sturdy, steeds. Most mule people hate the “stubborn” attribute assigned to their favorite breed, but thanks to our resident equine experts, Lee Anderson and Deb Kidwell, True West is giving mules some long overdue respect and credit.
Another big tip of the hat goes out to Lynda A. Sánchez, of Lincoln, New Mexico, who regaled me with the local nuance of mule slang (the vaqueros in her family refer to mules as “machos,” which, as she points out, is strange since mules are pretty much sterile). She also shared a photo of Dan Thrapp, a compiler of frontier biographies, who had a love for mules.
The biggest takeaway for me from this issue was learning the crazy, different sizes and breeds of donkeys and mules. Check out that American Mammoth Jack standing by Deb. Wow! I can see why she wears her “Jackass Lady” moniker with pride.
The truth is, I have long admired these stubborn steeds. Besides, as the old vaqueros are fond of saying, “Until one has loved a mule, part of the soul remains unawakened.”
This Memorial Day, I will have the great pleasure of riding a mule as the grand marshal of California’s Bishop Mule Days Parade.
See what stubborn love can bring you?