When a Mule Changes Your Life

By Robin Morris

I love to ride – a lot. While I have ridden all my life, there were many years I was horseless. A career and family took precedence. After my son left home and I semi-retired – having my own equine – to ride when I wanted, where I wanted and as long as I wanted – took over my soul. I simply had to get back to me. Growing up, horses were my salvation. With the support of my husband, I obtained a broodmare and had her bred – twice. We delivered two healthy stud colts. The first, a gorgeous Tennessee Walker, the second, one of the most athletic John mules I have ever known. My broodmare died two hours after my John mule was born. When my mule was just 2 ½ months old, my Tennessee Walker (2 ½ years old at the time) broke his shoulder that required experimental surgery. He is still alive and doing fine – but due to the severity of the break, and the three titanium screws that remain in his shoulder, he will never be able to carry me to the back-country – that I crave. My mule was put down when he was just over 5 years of age from a series of medical issues. I owned a sweet quarter horse during this time – however, he was a place mark. I sold him when I started training my Tennessee Walker – before he was injured. This all took place over the course of 8 years. Although I felt like I had been run over by a semi – my luck simply sucked – I was still committed to having “that steed” that would be my partner for the long haul. One that would carry me to the back-country of Montana.

On June 15th, 2014 my life, as this then not so old cowgirl, changed – in an amazingly unexpected way, with the purchase of a mule named Beau. I met Beau shortly after my young mule was put down and for some reason knew that this 8-year old quarter horse John mule was meant to be my equine partner. He was consigned to the Jake Clark Mule sale in Ralston Wyoming, so, I knew our partnership was dependent on the winning bid. On sale day, I remember crying in the shower thinking – “what if everyone else wants my Beau – what will I do?”

After 10’s of thousands of dollars spent on equine surgeries – that didn’t result in a trail partner, I was determined to bring Beau home. June 15th, 2014, I did just that. Beau was mine.

In the last six years, while logging 13,373 miles, I have changed. I am in better physical shape and able to look at things differently. While fully aware of my surroundings and Beau…I spend a great deal of time fine-tuning my life. I review projects I am working on – in search of better/easier ways to accomplish my vision. I come up with new recipes and get so excited when they taste exactly how I imagined. I think of friends and their needs – what I can bake them next, what gift would be perfect or when I can get together, or where can we ride next. I dream of conversations missed with loved ones that have passed on and conversations to have with those still here. I wonder if I will remember each moment 20 years from now and find solace in the fact that I had a great life and lived it! I think about having to say goodbye to those I love – including Beau. Sometimes my thoughts break my heart. But then I shift my thoughts to all the loved ones in my life because of

Robin, Beau and Aghy. Photo by Crist Lynn

horses and most especially Beau. Heck, I’ve made friends with folks across the country – that have actually driven out here just to ride with me and Beau in the back-country. That really makes me smile.

I have enjoyed sharing our adventures with friends and the world and preserving those memories on paper for myself. So, on this day – six years after swinging a leg over my bay mule Beau – I am thankful for the joys I have realized and for a supportive husband that understood my need to have a Beau in my life. I can’t wait to see what our future has planned. Life is fantastic.

Robin spends a considerable amount of time in the saddle, riding on solo adventures with her ride partners Beau and Aghy, as well as with friends or guiding groups.  She is also an ambassador to the ride association “Top Trail” as well as a member of “Back Country Horsemen of America“.

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