Saturday, December 24, 2022

The End of an Era

 Christmas Eve we lost our long time friend and amazing pony mule. 

Fred stood 13 hands and was probably the toughest equine we'd ever had. Rich got Fred 34 years ago. He was part of a driving team of matched small mules. Fred rode and drove and Rich kept Fred and sold Jenny.

A life long journey was started. Fred helped a veteran with his PTSD. Mules became my husband's passion. Every other mule we ever had was compared to the tough little pony mule. 

If you were a novice rider or a child, he'd take care of you. He'd walk as if he were on egg shells. If you were balanced and experienced...he was quick and light. He was a trickster. He was quick and won me a lot of placings in poles and barrels against big horses.

We team penned with him and lent him out to a young girl for a year to ride in competitions.

We hunted at night off from him. He was an expert at finding treeing hound dogs. He could take you home or back to the trailer if you lost your way. 

Fred taught me about mules. He was so much smarter than I was and he outwitted me so many times.

Fred on the water road KVR 1996

Me 1997 Morel Hunting
on Fred.

Fred after taking a novice
on a ride. 

Fred carries my Stepdaughter
on one of our many Mule Parades of two mules.

Rich and his favorite mule.

Little Mule. Tons of Heart.

Fred taught all the grandkids to ride and
many others.

Ride this fall. Fred leads with me.
He was spunky and ready to rumble.

Ariel got the last ride with Fred.

He may have been the smallest, 
however, he was leader of the 
pack until the very end.

I know in the past I've used the Rainbow Bridge Poem. 
I can't bear to even read it right now.

So I will say this.
Fred you stole my heart and are the sole reason I met The Mule Man and fell in love.
You showed me that adversity is something to embrace 
and get through no matter how tough it is.
You taught me that in order to get along with a mule
one had to gain that mule's respect.
You often thought that humans were beneath you
yet you would open your heart to me.
I wish you happy trails and green pastures.
I know you are running with Cheyanne your love mare and 
that she has been waiting for you for a long time.

Long live long ears
you shall always be in my heart
until we meet again...


  1. So sorry to hear of his passing. He was always a really cool guy, always looking out for the ladies, and really photogenic. He'll be missed for sure!

    1. Thanks. Unfortunately they can't live forever. I will miss him every morning as he'd come up to the fenceline near the house and bray like crazy until I came out to feed him and the others.

  2. I'm so so sorry.

    1. As a horse person you understand what it is like. Thanks.

  3. Anonymous11:20 AM

    In tears here, thinking about the loss of Fred. So sorry.

  4. What a truly beautiful tribute Val. I am very sorry {{hugs}}

    Fred was such an incredibly special mule. Your eyes smiled and your whole face lit up when you talked about him. Hold the many memories close. That silhouette photo of Rich riding his mule is priceless <3

    1. Yes, and now I can tell his stories and they will become legends. He touched lives all over the Midwest.

  5. So sad that his time is done. He will hold a place in our hearts, until we end. Good boy, Fred and thank you. Big Hug, Val.

  6. I am very sorry about the loss of Fred. He seems like he was quite the guy. He was a part of your family for such a long time. May he rest in peace.

    1. Thank you. I'm sure he is doing great now just as always. He will always have a special spot in our hearts.

  7. Aww Fred....
    It sounds like he was a very special mule, wise and forgiving in his way. He lived a long and fruitful life, didn't he?

    1. He led and incredible life and after we decided to retire him, he was willing to take on a couple of short rides this year. He was so spry and amazing all the way to the last moments.
      Thank you.

  8. Anonymous8:17 AM

    Big hugs to you and Rich. So sorry for your loss of Fred. RHill, TX


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