Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Montana Long Ears

We went to the Bitterroot Valley town of Hamilton for one reason – Montana Mule Days.  Most people go there to fish for blue-ribbon trout from the famous Bitterroot River which is beautifully framed at the terminus of two glorious mountain chains.  As we traveled through Montana and told people we were going to “Mule Days,” they looked at us a little strangely, cocked their heads, and said, “huh!”  Seems nobody (but mule people) had heard about this annual event – not even the woman at the Chamber of Commerce in Hamilton.  We were starting to wonder just a little about what was in store for us but were definitely determined to be galvanized spectators at the largest mule and donkey show in Montana and maybe the U.S.  (It’s funny the attractions we seek out!)

The three-day event was a myriad of adult and youth events and the first day read like a typical equestrian show program – halter, pleasure, equestrian, and cattle events were on tap.  Seems things get a little more laid back as the weekend progresses because Saturday’s anticipated afternoon program began with a presentation by the “Mulettes” (of which I can only explain with pictures) followed by the slow ass express/fast ass express races.  Sunday continued the downhill spiral from seriousness with the “flapjack races” where contestants had to bring all the supplies necessary to make a flapjack in the ring.  This event included bringing all equipment, making the fire, cooking an edible 4” flapjack, all while keeping the mule or donkey within 15’ of the fire.

The event started off with a parade of flags. 

The parade took a while since donkeys and mules are not all that fast.

Finally, the American flag entered the ring by mule and the national anthem was sung.
The first event we saw was the youth barrel crawl.  This timed event requires riders to race in, dismount, crawl through a barrel all while keeping hold of the animal.  Then they must remount and race back to the finish line.  Some of the mules were not as cooperative.
Next came the slow ass express race a sort of pony express simulation.  Since donkeys move at the speed of a tortoise, this race was appropriately named.  Racers ride around the ring with with a saddlebag and pass it off to other riders competing for the fastest time.
The fast ass express works the same but uses the much faster mule.  Don't they just look fast?  Actually some of
these mules were past racetrack mules.
Now it was time for the much anticipated "Mulettes" to take the ring.  We had no idea what Mulettes were and could not have imagined that they were cowboys in drag on mules playing polo.  Skirts were flying up, legs were being revealed, and boobs were bouncing.

 New Orleans drag queens had nothing on these down home cowboys!

After the Mulettes, we took a few minutes to stroll around the midway, eat lunch, and browse the muleish wears for sale.
There were fashionable toilet seat covers....
and fashionable clothes.
fashionable mule shoes, complete with Jesus's portrait....

 Mule Days was a blast.  We got a kick out of the enjoyment and pride kids exhibited showing off their equestrian skills and their “long ears.”  The presence of some of the most beautiful mules made me say, “I want a mule.”  Betsy gave me that certain “look” and we were out the gate.  My mule will just have to wait.


  1. This is totally asstounding! We have pinned this on our Pinterest account.

  2. If you enjoyed this event, check out Mule Days in Bishop Ca. Memorial Day Weekend. Mules and events galore.

    1. Thanks for the tip. We sure loved the mules!


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