Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How The Tenacious Mule Conquered The West But Lost The Popular Vote

February 22, 2017
   Working hard on the history of mules, the psychology of mules all the while, fighting the prevalent mule prejudice. Fortunately, I have some good sources for solid information, like Lee Anderson, who knows his stuff.


Lee Anderson On Zelda

Lee sends me tidbits almost every day, like this:

Mules Go Long Time
   "According to a chart in Manual Of Pack Transportation that shows loads and rates of travel practicable for a well seasoned pack train, mules loaded with 200 pounds of supplies could travel 25 miles a day at 8 miles per hour for 7 consecutive days. At 6 miles per hour the same mules with the same loads could travel one hundred miles a day for for 3 consecutive days,or at 5 miles per hour the mules could travel 25 miles a day for 365 consecutive days.

    "If traveling with the cavalry,pack mules could not keep up with the horses for the initial fifteen miles but were pushing them at thirty miles and had the horses at their mercy in a march of 75 miles in a 24 hour period.

   "According to Crook's long time adjutant, Captain Bourke, the care packers gave their mules equaled, 'almost that given to the average baby'. The mule, Bourke added, responded to such attentions".

   "Female, or Molly, mules were preferred. They were considered more manageable, easier to train, and had a more pleasant disposition, Male mules, jacks, were nearly always gelded due to the fact that they usually behaved worse than stallions. They were extremely hard to control and usually considered dangerous and unreliable.


The Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad, right, on his trusty mule, getting set to embark
 into the Sierra Madres of Old Mexico in 1936. Both his guide and Apache scouts, were
mounted on mules as well. Many believe Ingstad found the Apache Kid's daughter.


   "Even when an army mule couldn't see the bell mare it would follow the sound of the bell. Should the bell mare happen to be killed the mules would become completely disoriented. Many army packers insisted mules would express grief that was almost human.

   "A mule could be larger than either parent.

   "Hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of people know who Trigger and Champion were but, how many know who 583R and 9YLL were? They were known by army packers and troopers as Trotter and Hambone and were the last two pack mules mustered out of the army with full military honors and recognition on 15  December 1956 at Fort Carson, Colorado. 

   "Trotter became the official mascot for cadets at the U.S.Military Academy at West Point, New York.

   "Hambone was an extraordinary jumper. He never lost a mule jumping contest and at Fort Carson, Colorado in 1950, jumping against horses, he bested all but the first place winner."
—Lee Anderson

"Perhaps there is no other animal so much abused, or so little cared for. Popular opinion of his nature has not been favorable; and he has had to plod and work through life against the prejudices of the ignorant."
—Muleskinner Harvey Riley, 1867

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Many Mule Dismount Options

February 21, 2017
   Busy trying to nail down all the mule art I want to do for our mule issue in May.
Going to be a fun deal. Here's a couple pages of roughs from my sketchbook:
 


Daily Whip Out: "Why The Long Face?"

I'm also running the diary entry from the Ingstad expedition where he was on switchbacks in the Sierra Madre when a mule carrying dynamite came tumbling off the trail above him, went over his head, crashed into a pillar and survived!



Daily Whip Out: "Mule Carrying Dynamite Tumbles By"

Mules are notorious for their ability to be calm for days and even years, and then. . .


Daily Whip Out: "The Mule Slingshot Dismount"

    Others dismount efforts are more simple and direct:



Daily Whip Out: "The Mule Ejection Seat Dismount"

   I've got a ton more, but here is my list of artwork and photos I intend to run in the feature:


Daily Whip Out: "Mule Wish List"

True Mule Tales

"A long time ago, my dad came home from an auction with a mule. He bought it in the town of Wink, so he named him "Wink." Of course I was 'voluntold' to saddle up and when I did I saw the peak of the barn in a 'wink.'"
—Larry Berger





The Quirky Obit of Tim Quirk

February 21, 2017
   We have been debating obits at the True West World Headquarters. Do they belong in True West, and, if so, 
how do we do them? Thanks to Andy Sansom in Kingman, who has been perusing old Kingman Daily Miners
 we get this hilarious, old school example of a no-holds-barred obit.



Kingman Daily Miner, January 11, 1902


Then, wouldn't you know it, Linda Gay Mathis actually finds a photo of said Tim Quirk:


Thanks to the Utah State Historical Society. Too rich. Too quirky!


"We are never prepared for what we expect."
—James Michener

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Father of Our Country On Spanish Jack

February 20, 2017
   In honor of President's Day, we should all tip our hat to the Father of our Country:


Daily Whip Out: "George On His Spanish Jack"

The Father of Mules In The U.S.
"I have a prospect of introducing into this Country a very excellent race of animals also, by means of the liberality of the King of Spain. One of the Jacks which he was pleased to present to me (the other perished at sea) is about 15 hands high, his body and Limbs very large in proportion to his height; and the Mules which I have had from him appear to be extremely well formed for Service. I have likewise a Jack and two Jennets from Malta, of a very good size, which the Marquis de la Fayette sent to me. The Spanish Jack seems calculated to breed for heavy, slow draught; and the other for the Saddle or lighter carriages. 
   "From these, altogether, I hope to secure a race of extraordinary goodness, which will stock the Country. Their longevity and cheap keeping will be circumstances much in their favor. I am convinced, from the little experiments I have made with ordinary Mules, (which perform as much labor, with vastly less feeding than horses) that those of a superior quality will be of the best cattle we can employ for the harness.
   "And indeed, in a few years, I intend to drive no other in my carriage: having appropriated for the sole purpose of breeding them, upwards of 20 of my best Mares".


George Washington, in a letter to Arthur Young, December 4, 1788

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mules And Issues of Trust

February 19, 2017
   Started raining just after three, two nights ago, got more showers on and most of the yesterday and today. Worked in my studio on all kinds of mule subjects: charging mules, climbing mules, braying mules and crazy, bucking mules. I'm also doing a series of mule portraits.



Daily Whip Out: "Mule Portrait No. 1"



Daily Whip Out: "Mule Portrait No. 2"

   I also asked for mule stories and almost immediately, got this one:

True Stories of Mules In Action


How A Mule Reset My Broken Arm
   Several years ago I went on a riding vacation in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Southern Spain. I had intended to ride a horse, but I broke my arm in a riding accident a month before we were due to leave on vacation. So, instead, for safety's sake, I was teamed up with a steady, 16-hands-high bay mule named Cordera. We rode 100 miles through the mountains along tiny goat paths that were only a few feet across and a long drop on one side. Here's the weird thing that Cordera did. We had to ride up onto a ridge at one point on the trail. It was a steep slope, with loose rocks, that seemed to go straight upwards, before it narrowed onto a trail that wound around the side of a cliff. The other horses on the trail took their time and found the climb hard going. We all ended up lined up on the edge of the slope. I couldn't ride forward because of the horse in front. My mule grew impatient to be moving and cranky at being wedged between two horses while standing on the slope. He began to flick his tail dramatically at the horse behind him, took a few bouncy hops backwards and forwards, launched his back legs into the air and walloped the horse behind him cleanly in the chest. He didn't so much as buck, but do a sort of jump-kick, which was impressive considering he was standing at an angle with his front end higher than his back when he began. My broken arm, which I had been resting on the saddle horn, flew up into the air and out and back to the side. There was a loud pop. I was in agony. I said a few choice words to Cordera, I can tell you! The days afterwards, I realized I could move my arm around better than before. When I went home, I had an x-ray done and the doctor told me that my arm had started to heal. Basically, to sum up, in doing what he did, the mule reset the bone in my arm. I was due to have surgery when I returned home, but I didn't need to thanks to him. It's been 20 years since this happened and the arm that was broken probably has better range of motion than the other does and it's all thanks to a cranky mule!
—Elena Sandidge
Lexington, Kentucky


Daily Whip Out: "Charging Mule"

   I have been learning quite a bit about mules and I have to admit there is something very appealing in their oddness. There is also an attraction:

"Until one has loved a mule, part of the soul remains unawakened"
—Old Vaquero Saying

   All in all, the mule is quite an enigma:


"The mule is an enduring animal, he will bear fatigue and cold, and heat and hunger, and abuse. The greater the hardship, the more patient he becomes. But no man can trust a mule"
—Lieutenant Joseph Sladen, remarking in horror at General Howard's choice of mounts on their peace mission to meet Cochise, page 177 of the book "The Apache Wars" by Paul Andrew Hutton


Friday, February 17, 2017

My Kingdom For An Ass

February 17, 2017
   Spent the morning utilizing some great photo reference I got yesterday with Lee Anderson and his mule. 


Daily Whip Out: "Kit Carson On The Hunt"

   Wanted to capture that early morning light and how it plays on a mounted rider traversing a mountainside:


Daily Whip Out Sketches: "Kit Carson On The Hunt"

My Kingdom For An Ass
   I read somewhere that both Napoleon and Santa Anna (who styled himself as the "Napoleon of The West") barely escaped capture on separate ocassions, by fleeing on mules. In the case of Napoleon, he knew a mule was more sure-footed and would help him traveling by night, whereas his Arabian stud would probably cause him to be discovered. I believe Santa Anna was in a carriage pulled by mules and cut one loose to effect his escape from U.S. troops who were closing in on him.

   Speaking of great mule stories, I want to gather a few more mule stories. The kind where you have witnessed mules doing something amazing, or crazy. If you have one send it to me at:

bozebell@twmag.com

   Include your full name, city and state. If I use your story in our upcoming mule opus you will receive a free subscription (or artprint, if you already have a sub). Thanks.

   Learning to push the color on those mules, above. Learned that from van Gogh, of course. I am learning, slowly but surely.

"If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you."
—Old Vaquero Saying





Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mules at Sunrise

February 16, 2017
   Had a photo shoot this morning at Ken Amorosano's ranchito off Fleming Springs.


BBB On Zelda

   Lee Anderson and his wife Margarite came out with their sweet mule, Zelda, at seven, and we rode out to the canyon to the north of Ken's house and waited for the light. We weren't disappointed.


BBB On Zelda

   Ken took the above shots. Lee also brought along his trusty steed Concho and I took some reference shots of him as well:


Lee Anderson On Concho Cutting for Sign

Ken also grabbed this shot of me in the arena at the end of the shoot.


BBB In The Arena

"Creativity is freedom. Ability is a poor man's wealth."
—Ricky Gervais



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mule Face: His Voice Is His Own Derision

February 15, 2017
   Slamming along the old mule trail. People seem to love 'em and hate 'em in equal measure. As one wag put it: "All the bad things they say about them are true, all the good things are also true. To know them is to love them."


Daily Wbip Out: "Old Mule Face"

"Father and mother he does not resemble, sons and daughters he will never have; vindictive and patient (it is a known fact that he will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once); solitary but without pride, self-sufficient but without vanity; his voice is his own derision."
—William Faulkner