Baxter Black: How do you stop a runaway mule?
I finally collected enough first hand reports to answer the age-old question, “How do you stop a runaway mule?”
Ace Reid said he had been invited to be the parade marshal in Uvalde. They sat him up in the seat of a good-sized freight wagon pulled by a team of big mules. Halfway through the parade the mules spooked and started galloping down the street. The driver looked at Ace, handed him the lines and jumped ship. Ace said they were headed straight for a tuba player and two drummers ridin’ drag in the Sabinal High School marching band. He was able to alter the trajectory just enough so that the mules swung toward the sidewalk. When the wagon tongue hit the light pole, they stopped dead in their tracks.
Deanie and her husband Mike train horses up in the Yakima valley. One afternoon they went down to move a set of heifers from the high school section into the next pasture. She was ridin’ a two year-old filly and Mike was puttin’ the fine-tuning on a new mule. Deanie got a head start and was ridin’ around the heifers when she saw Mike, well, actually heard Mike comin’. His mule was runnin’ like a race horse. Mike’s ears were blowed flat against his head and he’d applied one of his ol’ trainer’s tricks to gain control. He had pulled that mule’s head all the way back around ‘til his nose was in Mike’s left stirrup! Deanie watched as the mounted cartoonists slowed to a bangin’ trot and crossed the school house playground. She could hear Mike shouting instructions as they ran the obstacle course of sandboxes, teeter totters and jungle gyms. How they made it lengthwise through the swing set without strangling Mike is a miracle! The mules, still jerked into a “U” rebroke into a gallop, ran straight through the heifers and scattered ‘em like balls on the break. Deanie swung to get outta they way but the mule rear-ended her at full speed. Stopped him in his tracks.
Out in California, Uncle Jack has a mule on his place that he called Son of the San Joaquin. Lon insisted on ridin’ him in spite of Jack’s precautions. He watched Lon lope his mule up the road but it wasn’t long ‘til he heard the sound of pounding hooves. Over his shoulder Jack saw Lon shoot past him. They were kicked into overdrive in spite of the fact that Lon had the mule’s head pulled clean back to his boot top. The road turned right. The mule never noticed. He ran smack dab, flat into an orange tree. From Jack’s vantage point, it looked like the orange tree had been struck by lightening. A terrible crashing sound ensued as Lon flew off the mule and shot through the branches like a six-foot smoked salmon fired from a battle ship.
Did it stop the mule? You bet, but they say you can still see pieces of Lon’s hat and shirt and glassed embedded in the bark. ❖
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