California Riding Magazine • June, 2012

Strut Your Stuff, On A Mule
Award programs celebrate the
myriad ways to enjoy a mule.

by Emma Gonzalez, chairperson of LEVA/SSA

The American Mule Association has long been involved in encouraging the development of, and public interest in mules. We have set up a rulebook to be used in sanctioned mule shows, we regulate judges and elect a board of directors to oversee the running of the organization.

However, there are many of us out there who do not compete. In fact, the thought of going into an arena with our mules is a bit daunting. So we stay on the fringe of things, enjoying being a spectator at such shows as Bishop Mule Days, in awe of what mules can do at the top of their show careers.

There are programs for us, too! There are ways we can track our hours with our mules and get back a beautiful award and feel a little more a part of that mule community. Some of us are avid trail riders. Evenings or weekends we're out with our mule and horse friends and sometimes it's summer time packing in the Sierras.

For you folks we have a fun program called SSA or Saddle Sore Award, where you can track all those fun hours in your saddle. Log them on a sheet that's downloadable from our website, keep track of those great times, and, at the end of the year, participate in our year-end awards banquet. Beautiful plaques are awarded with your name and that of your mule. It includes how many hours you clocked (you'd be surprised how they add up) and can be displayed in honor of you and your hard working long-eared friend.

If you want more of a challenge, go out and challenge the horse folks in your area. Sign up with them for a local parade or gymkhana. Perhaps spend a day at a local horse show (go on, show off a bit!). Some of you may step it up further and enter one of those "cowboy challenges" just to show how smart your long-eared companion is, or even race against the hardened Tevis riders. What better place to showcase your friend's endurance?

For you, there is LEVA Long Ears Versatility Award, again a beautiful plaque to acknowledge how versatile our animals are. Download the form from our web site and start keeping track of those events.

You have a mule, you don't need to show, but go out there and have fun anyway, let us give you some recognition and acknowledge you and your mule for your accomplishments. Our president Marsha Arthur is an avid supporter of both of these programs and can be seen most weekends out and about in Nevada with her pretty grey molly mule, Annie Get Yor Guns, accumulating her points at local trail rides, poker rides and parades.

There are no age limits or restrictions. We ask that both mule and rider be registered with the AMA. Check our website: www.americanmuleassociation.com. Go to "AMA Forms" and scroll down to LEVA and SSA. Here you can download and print the necessary forms and information. The $10 fee goes towards your beautiful personalized plaque at the end of the year.

You too can get an award and recognition for doing what you love to do. Be proud of your mule and what you achieve together, for it is a unique partnership that only those of you that own/know a mule can fully appreciate!

Happy trails!