Was finishing a conversation with a horse buyer—I needed a couple of saddle horses for summer camp—when the buyer asked if I wanted a mule.
“And why would I need a mule?” I asked.
“Well, he can do tricks,” was the answer. “And the price is right.”
As it turned out Henry could do one trick. If you grabbed the saddle horn and gave it a shake, the mule would lie on his side and play dead.
Useful, I suppose, if you’re making a film in Hollywood.
But “useful” is not the word that came to be associated with Henry. “Trouble” was a more accurate descriptor.
Henry could bite and kick, activities that caused at least one wrangler to strike back. Turns out Henry’s head was stronger than Brian’s hand. The X-ray showed a clear break.
But that wasn’t the worst thing my trick mule did. In our rodeo arena we had a V-shaped turnstile in the corner, designed so that two-legged animals (wranglers and campers) could pass through, but not four-legged ones.
No one explained the limitation to Henry.
Still don’t know how he made it through. Just know the fence and saddle were never the same.
Henry? He survived, as did the startled rider who jumped off just in time. And I learned a valuable lesson.
Never buy a trick mule over the phone.