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Ask Meredith – Mules in 4H

Mules have not been widely accepted as 4-H Club Projects in the past. However, with the increase in their popularity, some young people have successfully taken up the challenge of raising and showing mules in 4-H. These tenacious young people should be given credit for their hard work, perseverance and inspiration to others. If you have such a story, we would love to post it in this section to help the growth of mules and donkeys in the 4-H world and to continue to inspire the equestrians of the future! Our book A Guide to Raising & Showing Mules provides a comprehensive manual for those who wish to use mules or donkeys for their project.

Click on the title below to see the complete question and answer.

Mules In 4-H
  1. 4-H Comments
  2. Bishop and 4-H Help
  3. Change 4-H Rules
  4. Mules in 4-H

Mules in 4-H

4-H Comments

Question: It’s great to hear from you. I can’t wait to speak w/you at Bishop. I am still very interested in attending school at CSU. What I would really like to do there is do a donkey/mule breeding study. I would like to speak w/you about this at Bishop and see if you would be interested in such a project.

CSU has done so much in terms of horse repro work but I really think we need more research on donkeys and mules. Our industry is growing so fast and there are more longears than ever and I feel like Universities need to realize this and devote some time and research to them.

Anyway, congrats on your son graduating. that’s wonderful! I will get your site linked up to our website and thank you for doing the same. Please include my letter about 4-H on your site and like I said if I can help any let me know. Not letting 4-H members show mules or donkeys in the “Horse Project” which should really be termed, equine project is just silly b/c it’s suppose to give youth a chance to learn how to feed, care, show, etc. their equine and their leaders are suppose to help and support their efforts.

Telling a 4-H member he/she can not do so b/c it’s a longear is ridiculous! It would be similar to telling a beef kid he/she could not show their Braham heifer in the heifer show, b/c genetically a Braham has a different # of chromosomes and even physical difference than say a Hereford or Angus, it’s really the same thing telling a 4-Her they can not show their mule/donkey in the horse show.

Anyway, can’t wait to see and visit w/ you in Bishop. We will be there on Sunday and busy showing all weekend. I will get by before Friday. I’m trying to go for the All around amateur thing this year and boy I think I’ve entered everything possible. It will be lots of fun. See you in a month.

Answer: I am looking forward to talking to you as well. You are right that there needs to be more equine research done with donkeys and mules. CSU and Louisiana State have done some research as has Texas A&M, but there is still a lot to be done.

When you get to CSU, you should look up Dr. Josie Traub-Dargatz. She has done a lot of research on neonatal isoerythrolisis and helped me through a lot of breeding concerns in that area.

Bishop and 4-H Help

Question: Hope you are doing well and you are getting ready for Bishop. I wanted to thank you for the info about a place to board my mule near Fort Collins. Maybe attending school there in the Fall of this year but not it’s not for certain. I was wondering if it would be ok to add your website to our links page on our website. I would like to direct people to you for information on training of mules and donkeys. We always get a lot of training questions? And you are the Expert!

If that’s ok w/ you I’ll add you to our info page and if there’s anyway possible could you add us to your page? Also, I went to your 4-H page and if you need any help w/ 4-H stuff please let me know. I was very lucky and got to show my mules in the Georgia 4-H program and I was even allowed to compete at the southern regional 4-H horse championships which included 14 southeastern states including Texas who will not allow mules or donkeys to show against the horses.

They have their own separate class or at least they did 8 or 9 years ago. i think if ponies can show against horses why can’t mules or donkeys? Also, enjoyed the article in mules and more about the AHSA or what ever the new organization’s name is about the passing of the mule “ok” rule. That’s great!

Answer: Thank you for your offer of reciprocal links. Of course, we would be glad to link back to your site and appreciate that you would like to link to ours!

I am going to post this letter in the 4-H section and would be happy to post any articles that you would like to write to give other 4-H kids the benefit of your own experience. They need all the help they can get!

I hope my book A Guide To Raising & Showing Mules, will help those who wish to use mules for 4-H, as it was modeled after the 4-H equine project manual.

Change 4-H Rules

Question: We have tried for 2 years at the local level to gain acceptance of mules in the 4-H horse show. We are told by our local level that it is out of their hands, they simply can’t accept mules in the program because the Wyoming 4-H rule book explicitly says no mules or llamas. They tell us we have no options. We believe we may be able to go to the state level and change this ruling.

Was it this way in Colorado and California? What methods did you use to convince them that mules were “equine” enough to compete with horses? Was the argument that mules teach patience and sportsmanship enough? Did you have a group of interested adults along with interested 4-H-ers in on the argument?

Do you have any suggestions for us? We appreciate your backing and support so much, due to the influence your voice carries, and even the effects of your TV show are felt here, as people become aware of mules through your program. (Too bad I don’t get that program on cable!) Do you have any other contact names we may call on in Ft. Collins or in Cheyenne that may be willing to assist us??

We are only 70 miles north of Cheyenne, so even Ft. Collins is in our local. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. I sure would like to get my hands on your new book. Hurry & finish it, OK!

Answer: I do believe that they are allowing children to do their mule projects concurrently with the horse division in states where it is accepted.

I don’t really know what Colorado or California is doing, but I cannot imagine anyone keeping a child from learning to care properly for any animal. After all, isn’t that the point of all this? To exclude certain animals would surely plant seeds of prejudice and encourage negative attitudes in children. 4-H has never done that before. What the heck has happened to good sportsmanship?

I would approach anyone and everyone I could think of about this. The angle of your approach will be paramount. I think I would be tempted to approach on the side of good sportsmanship and about what the children are supposed to be learning…not from a competitive angle.

Hang in there and do the best you can. It takes years to make changes like this, so don’t get discouraged. You are right in your cause!

I’m here if you need me to do whatever I can. If people want to know about the suitability of mules and donkeys for children, send them to me! If they don’t, tell them to talk to me anyway!

Mules in 4-H

Question: I understand from the grapevine that you were instrumental in the process of changing the 4-H rules concerning mules in California and Colorado. We are in the process of introducing mules to our local fair and have met with a considerable amount of negativity at the local level.

We feel we need to go directly to the state level to make progress. We would like to change the horse project to an Equine project that would include donkeys and mules. We would be very appreciative of any assistance you can give us in the form of advice, statistics, presentations, persuasive words, etc……

We have several young people that would like to show their mules at the local and state level without prejudice. They already are walking all over the competition! They are hooked on the mule & won’t give up easily. We have our seat belts buckled, knowing this may be a wild ride. We hope to accomplish this by next season, since we our out of time this year and have been led around by the nose for 2 years now. Thanks so very much Meredith!!!!

Answer: I do support kids who want to use longears as their 4-H projects. There should be no discrimination when it comes to interest in livestock of any kind and there are currently a lot of shows where kids can participate with mules and donkeys. It is my experience that things will only be changed at the state level once there are enough local clubs accepting the animals. Currently, there are a lot of local clubs who do accept mules and donkeys as 4-H Club projects.

You might try sending people to my website at to show them just how versatile and athletic mules really are. And, the most important thing that mules can do that horses can’t is to teach people how to be good sportsman. You have to be kind, patient and considerate with mules or they simply will not oblige you!

The horse publications are jumping on the bandwagon in favor of mules and donkeys these days as well.

Education of people about the reality of these animals is the only way to open people’s mind and get them to see the benefits. Keep plugging at it! Sometimes things take time to come around, but your cause is a worthy one and should eventually yield success! I am certainly willing to help in any way I can.