CLOUD 9 WALKERS
"Stetson" the Ivory Champagne Gaited Mule
"Stetson" -- Be still my beating heart!
Have you ever seen a prettier face? This is the love of my life (since my kids are too busy for me!), a 9-yr-old ivory champagne gaited mule. Alas, unrequited love! Stetson is a grumpy thing, not really doing anything wrong, but making it clear that he's definitely a mule, not a pet! When I try to woo him with a carrot, handful of grass or other enticement, he moves to the back of his stall and eyes me suspiciously. When he finally gives in to the temptation, he snatches the snack and retreats to his former watch post immediately, chomping and glaring at me, resenting my presence in his personal space (or at least that's the impression I get!). Stetson is not the least bit interested in being groomed and downright disgusted when I bring out the saddle and bridle, but he quietly tolerates my shameless and pathetic affection for him, counting the minutes until his torture is over, I'm sure! However, he comes in from the pasture willingly to his stall, and when I go into his stall to put his halter on, he meets me at the gate and puts his nose in for me. He hates to have his ears touched, but doesn't move a muscle when I'm clumsily pulling the bridle over all that ear!
Hey, they've written a country/western song about everything else -- why not one about unrequited mule love? A real tear jerker, maybe sang by "The Possum" (George Jones). lol
In the evening, when I turn him back out to pasture for the night, I get the feeling that he has spent all day hoping I will deviate from routine, but I make him come to me and endure my affection, scratches under his jaw and sweet whisperings before releasing him from his daytime prison! His first chore, which he tackles with a mix of disgust and glee, is to immediately roll in the dust, trying, I am sure, to rid himself of my cooties. Then he loves to gallop around and around the pasture a couple of times before catching up with Dalton (the buckskin Tennessee Walking Horse gelding) to spar, grabbing him on the neck and mane and hoping to provoke him into a race. (They are best friends.)
I had thought of naming him "Pavarotti" because I love to hear him sing, but he rarely sings more than a few bars for me! (He'd probably make a better Garth Brooks or Hank Williams, Jr.) The only time I ever heard him do a full bray was when I made an offer to the guy who owned him, and the guy rejected the offer. At that same exact moment, my dear mule let out a sad, soulful, long "hawwwwwwwwww-heeeee" and we decided he was insulted, so I raised my offer and brought him home. Stetson's sire was a gaited jack and his dam was a palomino/golden champagne mare. When he is clipped,, he looks almost white, but after shedding his winter coat, he is an ivory champagne with a slight golden/silvery sheen and greenish-topaz eyes.
Stetson is very gentle, even after being put out to pasture for months and not being ridden -- he never bucks, rears, kicks or runs off. In fact, on a recent trailride through a neighborhood, a dog kept coming up and nipping Stetson's heels. I actually thought the dog deserved to be kicked, but this patient mule never once tried to kick the dog, and he didn't seem to get upset by it, either. He always gives me a great ride and does anything I ask him to do on the trail. His gait is like a soft rack, and his lope is very, very nice -- smooth and athletic. He feels sturdy and incredibly sure-footed under me, and I marvel at the combination of gait and suppleness, how he turns on his hindquarters like a stock horse. Ah, how did I get this far in life without my very own gaited mule?
I love him, he loves me NOT! (But he kindly tolerates me.)
Stetson getting expert shoeing from his farrier, Cevin Loftin.
What a beautiful mug ! ! !
ABOVE: Traci riding Stetson on a glorious Sunday afternoon at the Angelina Forest and Lake Sam Rayburn.
ABOVE: How cool is this? Hannah is riding Stetson on 4/23/06 at Lake Rayburn while a speedboat goes by and creates waves.
The girls take turns riding Stetson on the beach and in the water on 4/23/06.
Brent, on his cell phone in the middle of the Angelina Forest on 4/28/06. I couldn't believe he could get a signal! Click on this picture to see Brent riding Stetson on the asphalt.
Stetson climbing a steep grade, picking his way carefully as mules are renowned for.
Ducks, chickens, dogs, not even the farrier worries him!
Click on picture ABOVE to see video of Stetson.
ABOVE LEFT: He is trained to cross ties, and will stand for hours. ABOVE RIGHT: "See how they abuse me? I need outta here!"
I just couldn't quit clicking the camera, and had so many great pictures that I couldn't choose which ones to post, so I included them all! The last three are thumbnails -- click on them to enlarge them.
Cloud 9 Walkers
P. O. Box 871
Crosby, Texas 77532
(35 minutes east of Houston)
281 - 328 - 6655
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