I'm hard at work on a big feature story we are planning for May: How the mighty mule conquered the West. For me it's turned out to be a bit of a love story, so it's perfect for Valentine's Day.
I was more than a little surprised to find out how many legendary Westerners rode mules. Buffalo Bill rode a mule when he was a scout. Wild Bill Hickok rode a mule when he was in the Army. The list goes on and on.
Turns out almost all the early expeditions were mule mounted.
And, of course, as I've said before, not everybody was, or is, a fan of these mighty mules:
A Hybrid Outrage Upon Nature
"[Since before the Mexican War] many soldiers were, therefore, closely acquainted with mules, and most looked upon them with scorn. To them this hybrid cross of the ass and the noble mare was an outrage upon nature, a monstrosity, unapproachable in devilment, fathomless in cunning, and the originator of a distinct and uninterrupted series of tricks. The mule showed little dexterity except of the accurate flinging of its hooves or its ability to step on the nearest solder's feet or gear."
—James W. Steele, 1883
"A mule is as good as a horse until you need a horse."