by Anna Arnold
Many people were awed by the beautiful lady on the fabulous donkey that was on the July cover of Mules and More, and here is the rest of the story. The lady is Dawn Marie Henderson, and she is owner and trainer of DM Stables in Healdsburg, Calif. She has an excellent facility and a wonderful mentor to help her with her training - her mother, Veda Rose Pope.Veda Rose owns the donkey that Dawn Marie is riding on the cover, Mr. Ear E Sistable.
Dawn Marie and Veda Rose are well known at Bishop Mule Days. They have shown there for years and have both had champion mules. Veda Rose and her husband, P.C. Pope, made some really handsome boots and saddles in their years together, and Veda Rose still shows them when riding Mr. Ear E Sistable.
I remember the day I met the mother-daughter team. It was the late 1980s, and I had just seen Dawn Marie win a class on her champion mule, Apple, Peaches & Cream, and her mother had made a smoking run in the barrels. I was rather new to Bishop at the time. I was stalled close to them and saw a group of young people listening attentively to Veda Rose as she explained how to work trail obstacles. Her voice was quiet and her presence was soft and well spoken. Her advice was to ride your animal as though you were dancing with a great partner: follow the lead, don't rush, and keep a smooth cadence. She said to take time after each obstacle to let your animal and yourself think about your next move. You can see how this advice has worked well for her and her daughter. Both have a special way with the animals and the students they work with.
After many years of showing mules and retiring her champion, Dawn Marie moved to showing donkeys. She is very selective in her breeding program and produces wonderful minded animals. Just this year at Bishop, her winnings on Mr. Ear E Sistable were the coveted Von Twitchell Award buckle, sponsored by Equines by Design, James and Lisa Fergason. This buckle is in memory of the late and wonderful mule man, Von Twitchell. This year Von’s wife, Bess, was there to present the buckle to Dawn Marie. Along with this buckle, she and Mr. E won Adult Donkey Driver, Gymkhana, World Champion Performance Donkey, along with many classes.