North American Saddle Mule Association

By Pamela Bennett

NASMA is the acronym for the North American Saddle Mule Association. NASMA was established in 1994 and is an organization that is devoted to the promotion and development of the saddle mule and donkey in English, Western, Driving and Trail Riding divisions. NASMA sanctioned shows give breeders and exhibitors opportunities to compete for titles and awards and has divisions for the entire family from youth to silver, from amateur to open division competitors. NASMA also has a Versatility Trail Division ‘VTP’ for all aged trail riders and people who like to drive their mules and donkeys. They too have the opportunity to spend time on the trails and achieve titles and awards!

The NASMA Youth Division was established in 1996 to provide an organization for youth in the Saddle Mule and Saddle Donkey industry to have the opportunity to earn recognition for their efforts on behalf of the Saddle Mule or Donkey. Additionally, to provide financial assistance for the pursuit of higher education and to provide an atmosphere in which youth can learn positive values through trail riding, family activities and competition.  A youth is defined as anyone eighteen years and younger as of January 1st of the current year. Ownership of a mule or donkey is not required to enjoy membership privileges. NASMA Youth memberships are available for $10 per year and all youths are encouraged to participate. Each year, two $500 Scholarships are awarded to NASMA senior furthering their education.

What is a Saddle Mule?

LVF’s Elegance by Rhythm. Photography by Cowgirl Digital Designs

The saddle mule is defined as any horse/donkey hybrid and is the result from breeding either a male donkey jack to a saddle type horse and used for work and/or pleasure under saddle or in light harness. The donkeys used to produce saddle mules are either large standard or mammoth breeds. Donkeys are measured in inches and mules are measured in hands. The results of breeding for mules can be varied even when the cross is the same every time. The variations can be extreme from color, height and sex. For instance, the jack donkey pictured here is LVF’s Rhythm Nation he is 57.5 inches the mare is 15.1 hands. This cross has produced four foals that vary in height from 16.2, 15.1 and 14.3 hands. The color variation has been a diverse as well ranging from a light dun to three other bay mules with white socks. When breeding, we always suggest breeding for demeanor and confirmation, because color is always a surprise.

For those of you that have questions as to why you register your mule or donkey here are some facts that I hope will help you understand. Anything worth doing is worth recording with the NASMA Registry you can trace their lineage, keep track of their progress in the show ring and out on the trail. There are some great individuals raising, breeding, and training some outstanding stock these days. Breeding gaited, western, reining, sport horse, speed event bred mares to make a mule for whatever sport you enjoy.

LVF’s Rhythm Nation and Pamela Bennett

By having your stock registered you’re able to track their show point progress and hours spent out on the trail.

NASMA has a wonderful website that keeps track and you’ll have written proof of their titles and awards stored on the NASMA website to show any potential buyer. Any mule or donkey can be registered with NASMA parental heritage is not necessary to complete this.

Each show year begins January 1 and ends December 31st. In all seasons, mules and donkey compete across the country at NASMA approved shows in events such as western pleasure, trail, halter, English, hunter hack, coon jumping and even speed events to include barrel racing and pole bending. There are numerous division and high points given from halter high points to 10 & under walk trot high points. Each year in July NASMA Members gather in Shelbyville, Tennessee for their annual meetings and awards presentations and their national mule show. People come early and stay all week for the festivities the final three days these members compete fiercely for national titles and awards. The National Show is in Shelbyville is set for July 6-8th 2017.

New in 2016 was the Color Breed Mule and Donkey Congress held in Tulsa Oklahoma. The show was the brainstorm of Darrel Bilke was held at the Tulsa Expo Center in conjunction with the Horses from four separate breed associations once again united and competed for Congress Champion titles at the Color Breed Congress at the Built Ford Tough Livestock Complex in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Built Ford Tough Livestock Complex in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tentative dates are set for November 6-12, 2017, at the Tulsa Expo.

LVF’s Rhythm Nation. Photography by Cowgirl Digital Designs.

Membership in NASMA is open to individuals, local clubs, organizations, corporations and partnerships. Members may be residents of any state, territory or country. Membership in NASMA does not conflict with local club membership. Local clubs are free to adopt NASMA rules and have NASMA sanction their shows if their members would like their points count towards NASMA awards. NASMA also encourages any local club or organization that has sufficient entries for the “exotic” crosses to provide an opportunity for those animals to be exhibited. Hybrids of other than a horse/donkey cross may be present in numbers to justify their exhibition in their own classes in Halter and Performance and NASMA advocates the inclusion of such separate classes for the “exotic” crosses.

Versatility Trail Program

What is NASMA VTP?   NASMA Versatility Trail Program is designed to reward the hours you spend in the saddle or driving your mule or donkey outside of the arena.  This program was devised for those individuals who want to promote the mule and donkey to the public as the best and most reliable of trail animals. NASMA believes the recreational ability of riding or driving the saddle mule or donkey on the trail is just as important as competitions when educating the public about the benefits of Saddle mule and donkey ownership.

Robin Morris and Beau riding in Montana

To enroll in the VTP, you must be a member of NASMA pay a onetime enrollment fee of $30. You must remain an active member for the duration of time in which you are recording hours toward a recognition level and you must ride or drive a mule or donkey. You do not have to own that mule or donkey nor does it have to be registered to enroll in VTP. Endurance riders may compute their miles at 4 miles per hour (4:1 ratio). NASMA VTP offers bonus double hours to members, who log time on national trails, as recognized by the Canadian or U.S. National Parks Service (state or provincial parks are not included.) You can accrue and log hours spent in leisure riding or driving on the trail or participation in endurance, competitive trials and parades.

Ride with us in 2017!

VTP has several rides already planned for 2017 that include Leatherwood Mule Days in North Carolina and Cinco De Mayo Ride in Missouri. There is also a VTP Trail Ride and NASMA Show held Memorial Day weekend in Talihina Oklahoma at the Horse Heaven Ranch.

If you would like more information about the NASMA VTP or how you can host your own VTP ride you can reach VTP Chair Pamela Bennett at or by calling 620-341-0714.

For a complete listing of upcoming NASMA Shows, Trail rides and other events you can go to

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