Old-timers and long-timers of Scottsdale may recall Yale Siminoff Stables, in its latter years situated on the east side of Scottsdale Road in the area of today's airpark industrial and shopping centers. I first took riding lessons at Yale's place when I was a five-year-old horse-crazy kid. Yale and his wife, a trick rider herself, often had horses on the ranch that had been used in western films; I learned on many of those horses, from albino "Uncle Al" to plain ol' "Brownie." It was at Yale's place that I first rode a mule. Yale had a trail course set up north of the riding arena, and on the day I was introduced to mules I rode the trail course.
Unless something's slipping my memory, it was many years before I had the opportunity to ride another mule. That one was Michelle McGorky's impressive mule Wilma. She let me spend some time on her while we were on the Billy the Kid's Last Ride in New Mexico. Wilma was stout, tall, and had a "big engine," as Michelle put it. She performed impeccably on the ride, 150 miles of often-aggressive trail pounding from ranch to ranch across the plains. Michelle pointed out how Wilma's ears moved back and forth when she was happy. Wilma, sadly, recently passed away.
And that was it for my mule-back experience. Having the donkey gang here, though, reignited my interest in creatures long of ear and large of brain. Having recently retired the best riding horse I've ever had, my very much-loved Buck, and finding myself constantly annoyed at the antics of very-marey Sassypants whom I've been trying to turn into a trail horse for some years now, I determined to find a couple of solid, well-trained trail mules - one for myself and one for my husband-person. Weeks of poring over internet ads, borrowing a book on mules from my neighbors, reading up on mule sites, and watching mule videos didn't dissuade me. I settled on two mules from Lindsey Goode in North Carolina and, after satisfying myself that Lindsey represented her mules honestly and accurately, ordered them sight unseen. I could barely contain myself waiting for those mules to get here! Thanks to the outstanding staff at Equine Express, they arrived safely, happily, and in fantastic condition via a rather posh big rig.