Friday, July 16, 2010

Racing Mule

I have often heard that to be a great athlete, you have to be born a great athlete. This means that you need the genetic makings of greatness. Of course you also need to have the desire to be great and the work ethic to do the required hard work. Not everyone with the required genetic makings achieves the height of their ability but if you have the right combination you are golden. A thoroughbred who has the desire to win is unstoppable, but without the desire and drive, they are not a race horse. Unfortunately, I was not born a thoroughbred, I more resemble a mule. The common saying is that you can't turn a mule into a race horse but you can turn it into a racing mule.

Now, we all know that it is a long shot to put a mule up against a race horse, but what if the mule didn't know it was a mule? What if, the mule hung around with the race horses all the time and did morning workouts with the thoroughbreds? What if the mule didn't know that being a racing mule meant it wasn't equal to the race horse? What if- gasp- the mule believed that the label racing mule was to be held in high esteem? In certain situations a racing mule has a distinct advantage. One of those situations conveniently happens to be the Leadville 100 Trail.

Leadville Mule Pack Train

Above, I give you exhibit A. See any thoroughbred racing stallions in this picture? Didn't think so! It appears that mules have a long history in the region surrounding Leadville. Mules have characteristics that make them far superior in the mountain ranges. Sure, you have never seen a racing mule win the Kentucky derby (yet), but Mine That Bird wouldn't have earned his keep with the prospectors! A mule has harder skin than a horse and as a consequence does much better in extreme conditions. Those race horses are pretty sensitive creatures, might even consider them divas. I know this because I have witnessed it first hand on many a flight to Ironman races. The race horse can't stand to have the air blowing at them from overhead and finds the captains announcements WAY too loud. They seem very susceptible to illness and stress, while the mule is much more resistant. Mules are known to have more endurance and be more sure footed than a horse, which they get from their donkey sire. They also have the vigour, strength and courage of a horse. Most importantly, we all know how stubborn a mule is. Combine all of these characteristics with a strong desire to race and betting against the mule doesn't seem like a very intelligent thing to do.

I am aware that no amount of training and effort will morph me into a racing thoroughbred. I do know that I have been doing the required work and I have enough desire to make up for a lack of natural talent. When the call to post comes on August 14th, you can bet this racing mule with have the bit firmly between her teeth and will be off. A friendly reminder for all you racing thoroughbred neigh-sayers out there, a mules kick can come at any time, from any direction and is a very forceful.

I visit this guy often when I am riding, he's a kindred spirit!

1 comment:

  1. I recognize that handsome fella!