Show Donkeys & Hunter Mules

Donkeys and mules may be second-class equine citizens to some horse folks (we’re looking at you, FEI), but that hasn’t stopped many devoted long-ear owners from turning out some darn fancy show mounts!

Mules have a hit and miss record of being allowed in the upper echelons of English or western events, and donkeys have it even worse. After a successful campaign by Cathy Wieschhoff with her TB mule “Kit” all the way to the preliminary level, mules were banned at recognized USCTA (now USEA) events back in the 1980s.

Cathy Wieschhoff and her molly mule, Kit, competing prelim on the cover of USCTA news, 1983.

Cathy Wieschhoff and her molly mule, Kit, competing prelim on the cover of USCTA news, 1983.

They’ve been banned from recognized hunter/jumper shows, rodeos,  western performance classes,  and have been hot and cold with the USDF for decades, but many donkey and mule breeders have continued to test the waters of diversity and show at unrecognized events, as well as hold their own spectacular all-donkey/mule shows around the country. In 2004, rules were passed to allow mules at recognized dressage shows with the exception of USEF Championships or USEF Qualifying and Selection Trials.

Is it time for the long-eared eventers, hunters, and western all-around mule to have a renaissance?  After seeing the footage below, you’d be crazy not to hope so!

Donkey Western Pleasure at the 2013 National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO:


Mammoth jack donkey Gato El Rey schooling a jump course in Aiken, South Carolina:


Minnesotans on side-saddle performing a maypole routine using five mules and three Arabians!


Dixie Dell the mule performing in a 2’6″ working hunter class. (When you’re a mule, I’m not sure there is such a thing as chipping in or getting “too deep” to a fence!)


Twenty-year-old mule, Cheap Seat, competes and wins at the Bishop Mule Days Jumper Classic. It was also his formal retirement from jumping competition.


Not to be outdone by their friends in the ninny pinny English gear, how about this charming John named “Electric Zap” doing barrels and poles?


To which Heart B Porter Creek, ridden and trained by Audrey Goldsmith responds, “Fourth Level Dressage, and won my class. COME AT ME, BRO.”

Go Long-Ears.


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