Article and Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
Ty Evans and his family have always been around mules and donkeys at their Utah ranch. An opportunity arose, for Evans to offer lessons to riders and their mules on how to positively partner with each other. He developed a Mulemanship training clinic. Today, Evans travels throughout the country building connections between riders and their mule. He visited Brooksville last month, conducting a three-day clinic at Spotted Dance Ranch.
“This is my seventh year doing these clinics”. Ty, his wife, and daughters have a motto which is, "Helping people with mule problems, and mules with people problems." The clinics teach handling techniques, which builds confidence for the mule's handler. “Some people are here for confidence, and some people are here to get better,” Evans said. At first, many would think mules are used only for carrying satchels, pulling carts and other supplies along the winding trails of the mountains, but this is untrue for many mule riders.
Julia Blackmore from Stuart, FL shared that her first experience riding a mule was at a conference in Las Vegas. After that, she switched from being a horse rider to a mule trail rider. She states, “Mules are structurally different in their shoulders and their hips, so they have a much smoother ride.” Often what people describe as stubborn is really the mule thinking and owners needing patience. Blackmore says her mule is slowly making progress, “Just trying to get her more fine-tuned to me.”
Spotted Dance Ranch is owned and operated by husband and wife team John Holzwart and Kym Rouse Holzwart. “This event has been awesome,” Holzwart said. “The people are wonderful.”
To learn more about Ty Evans and his clinics visit their website at https://tsmules.com/