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  1. my husbands broker called this morning, with some “news.” OMG! I thought, good news or bad? Turns out, he(the broker) had been at a sushi bar last night, telling his companion about the adventures of one of his clients' (my husband) crazy wife riding a mule in the mountains alone, doing endurance and dressage, etc. and he never knew where she was…etc...(the things men talk about with their brokers is as curious as what men talk about in sushi bars) and was subsequently, overheard by an eavesdropping editor of some national equestrian magazine... and she went so far as to butt into the conversation and end up, via the broker, via my husband, getting me… to email her...so she can interview me… about my mule. (?)

    As a writer, i find the project interesting…

    As a person, i've kept myself private, most horse people i know don't know anything about me at all...just my mule skinner persona/role. what one reveals to others is...a provocative thought...im not sure what to think...about having my "portrait" out there for all those other equestrian people to criticize, ridicule...or whatever they do. Not all of them like me…for their own reasons…some good some bad.

    I am aware, there is a public self and a private self...and politics.

    My mule has become my muse (for good or bad)...and i never know where life with her is going next (for good or bad?)
    That darn mule has pushed me out of my comfort zone more times and ways than i expected possible ....some good, some bad.

    its raining here today. Cold and gray. Weather predicts sunshine and 80’s in the next few days.
  2. im not sure if this is a blog, or an essay, or a short story to write. i would appreciate any comments or critique, as i am new here and trying to figure out how to...?

    an Outsider, discriminated against…boo hoo hoo?

    I should be used to it by now, but I’m always surprised to find myself on the outside looking in…wondering what the hell are “they” doing in there? Why are “they” laughing? What are “they” talking about?

    Funny thing is, when I get close enough to hear…its usually a lot of to-do about nothing, or mean spirited, or “they” are all drunk/stoned or whining about the state of the world, all form and no content….and accepting and parroting whatever “they” are doing or saying is the only way in to the “in crowd.”

    Discrimination comes in many colors, I have discovered; riding my mule in various places, I have inadvertently, naively experienced forms of discrimination I wasn’t expecting. lots of folks are prejudiced against mules. They don’t like them for various reasons, consider them lowly “barnyard animals” and not worthy to hang with the popular Swedish warmblood crowd, or the racy thoroughbreds, fancy andalusians, chunky quarter horses, romantic Fresians and what have you that are “in” and popular with certain “in” equestrians. Many cowboys wouldn’t be caught dead riding a mule. Insulting to their machismo things.

    I takefull responsibility and pride in choosing a mule for a pal…but I didn’t expect some of the negative responses ive gotten. Some horse people are afraid of her and have shunned us. They’ve evidentally heard stories about how accurately mules can kick and bite and jump…and how stubborn they are, as well as how smart they are. Most of the stories are true, but there is the other side to look at…the advantages of what some would call “defects,” I’ve found to be valuable assets.

    I do things my own way and that annoys “them” too. Some equestrian groups and disciplines out-law mules from competing in “their” events. Mules can’t compete at the higher (FEI) levels of Dressage for some obscure reason (a danger to the very expensive horses?) mules are banned in the cowboy rodeo reining events…even though Pat Parelli (famous cowboy horse whisperer) competed on his mule (before the ban) and won everything! Then, mules were banned

    Oh well, so be it. I don’t want to do that stuff anyway, but, like I told the Dressage people, If a camel could do dressage, they ought to be allowed.” She tittered, but thought that was just silly. Camels?

    And, the sherriffs don’t allow mules in their prestigious elite mounted patrol unit. I think it’s because you can’t bully a mule, like you can a horse. They won’t endanger themselves. And when a mule won’t. it won’t. I thought I wanted to join a group of mounted patrol riders, until I found out what I would have to ask my pal, my mule to do. I decided I didn’t like the idea of trying to break her Will. I can ask her to do some pretty silly things (considering whats going on in the world,) but I promised her I wouldn’t ask her to do anything that would hurt her (unless it was veterinary stuff.) our Trust is based on that.

    we did go to one event with the glamorous mounted patrol and my mule won the final competition, much to their (and my) shock and their chagrin? I was asked later, “can’t you ride your horse in the patrol?” (My horse is almost 30 years old.) So we didn’t fit in the nice military group.

    So, I started taking Dressage lessons with the mule. Riding in the arena, which hither-to-fore, she had absolutely refused. She only rode trails where she wanted to go and we argued all the time. Some other riders didn’t like riding with us, they would say things like, “Why do you let her do that?” when she would stop suddenly to eat grass or look at something on a far distant mountain.
    “She’s a mule. She does what she wants. Im just along for the ride. If that’s going to annoy you, bye bye.”

    I rode alone a lot. Cruising the trails, just me and my beautiful mule, stopping to eat grass whenever we wanted, taking pictures, wandering around having adventures, having a great time…wondering, where is everyone?

    After a few proper dressage lessons, I entered a local show. It was suggested that I might expect some discrimination, as mules aren’t usual in dressage, (a proper dressage rider at the show asked me, “please move the mule so my horse can’t see it. He’s afraid of mules.” I ignored her, pretended not to hear.

    At our first show. We won our class and won high point over all. I was as stunned as the entire barn of “serious” Dressage riders…we were the Outsiders….me and my barnyard beast. We won the show.

    On one spectacular sunset panorama presentation I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, high up on top of the mountain, must me and my mule. It was so clear, I could see the ocean 30 miles away and the huge expanse of city lights spilled out on the valley floor below. Just me and my mule up there in the quiet, while…down below…

    Millions of people scurried around like rabbits in warrens, where gratefully I couldn’t see them and that made all the difference, while red glistening rubies and yellow sparkling diamonds in long glittering ribbons wove their way slowly up and down the far mountain pass, with tinkerbell sparkles…lighting the way for the all the industrious people, the blinking signs, the huddled masses, clinging together, shooting one another, cheating and lying drunk in the streets under the orange mercury vapor lamps…where, gratefully I couldn’t see them…

    And here I am, high up on the mountain at sunset, where I can’t even hear the hum of the city…looking down on “them” that have looked down on me. And I wondered, why am I the only one having so much fun?

    I laughed all the way down the mountain in the dark, riding my sure footed, intelligent, stubborn mule who I trusted to get us home safely. The prize is in being able to BE up on top of the mountain alone.

    People discriminate for funny, irrational reasons. Mostly it doesn’t make any sense at all. Mostly its designed to protect a little clan of same-speaking, same-looking similar people from any differences in opinion or look or whatever is deemed important. “They” don’t want to be questioned.

    Well, being “in” a “in” group, being accepted by your peers, is good for some things, but its not good for individuals who ask too many questions, or want to “do it my way.” So, I had to figure out how to get to the top of the mountain by myself.

    So, who wins?

    I figure, “they” kicked me right into my “laughing place”…and that’s a whole ‘nother story.
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