Promoting our youth riders is the highest priority at our Double L Ranch in Bishop, California. Without the enthusiasm and participation of the youth riders, the American Mule Association will be not be able to sustain its growth and secure its future. Every mule show manager could foster participation by offering a variety of youth events. Lead line for the littlest mule riders is a great start, but we also love to see trail, mulemanship, showmanship and pleasure for both English and western disciplines at every AMA approved show. We realize it takes time in the show day to offer these classes, and we appreciate those shows that really dig in to support the kids as we do at our ranch. Nothing touches the public more than seeing kids on great mules competing at shows. People line the rails to cheer for kids that they don’t even know. Myths of mules being stubborn and hard to ride are shattered when someone watches a small child negotiate a tough trail course on a great big mule!
Life lessons are learned at mule shows; children grow up and become more responsible and confident team players. Mule competition serves to foster humility and dedication in our students. The fun and camaraderie of showing your animal and competing with and against your best friends is a remarkable time in a child’s life. The AMA provides a specific rule book to follow, and our students pride themselves on “knowing the rules.” The AMA approved judges are aware of their capabilities and challenge them to compete to the best of their abilities. Judges give pointers on how they can improve and ask them questions about their ride.
Parents of our students recognize the benefits and recognize how riding and showing mules helps their children to grow and become more confident individuals. Some comments from our riders’ parents are as follows:
“As a parent you hope that your child discovers an activity that they love and that teaches them responsibility, discipline, and caring. Khylie has found that in riding and showing Gus. He’s a wonderful partner for her, and she trusts him. Southside Gus is a great mule for our daughter. Khylie also trusts Linda (Laird) because she knows how to bring out the best in her as a rider and as a person. Linda is a treasure—we appreciate her very much!”--Karen Small, mother of Khylie Small, 10 years old
“Jarid is a fifth generation cowboy in our family. We feel blessed that riding Diana Laird’s mule Sweet Melissa and training with Linda Laird has given him the opportunity to grow as a rider and become such a responsible young man.” --Kathy Hadeler, grandmother of Jarid Alpers, 11 years old
Our youth riders have had a very successful start to their show season in 2012! They’ve taken many top awards at the Rancho Murieta Mule Classic Show in April and also at the World Championships at Bishop Mule Days in May. Some highlights from Bishop Mule Days are:
• Khylie Small and Southside Gus- Walk/Jog division—1st place in pleasure and equitation
• Maddie Morrison and Max- Walk/Jog division—2nd place equitation and 3rd place in pleasure
• Jarid Alpers and Sweet Melissa- 13& under division—many placings including a very exciting 1st place in TRAIL!
• Angela Greer and FF Cowboy’s Royal- 13 & under division—many top ten placings including a well deserved 5th place in English Pleasure.
• Miya Roccoforte and Max- 13 & under division—our STAR of the show winning the World Championship All-Around Rider/Mule for 2012 in her age group. Max and Miya are quite a team, and we couldn’t be happier for them and Miya’s very supportive parents and grandparents