by Bob McCormick, Chehalis, Washington
When my Appaloosa Dusty was nearing retirement, about 20 years ago, I started raising mules. My second mule baby turned out to be the replacement for Dusty. Fred grew into a big mule, which is what I wanted at that time. I always thought ‘big’ was the way to go, but as time went by I got shorter and Fred seemed to grow taller!
I underwent shoulder replacement and couldn’t get the saddle on Fred very easily, and when I did get the saddle on, I couldn’t get on! So, Fred got a job with a Southwest Montana Outfitter, and I began looking for a new, shorter, mule.
I answered an advertisement in Mules and More from a man in Iowa who had a smaller molly mule for sale. After he answered all my questions I felt really good about this little mule, Lucy. Lucy happened to be in Missouri on a trail ride, which was my good fortune. A friend of Loren Basham’s (Pair-A-Dice Mules in Missouri) picked Lucy up and took her to Loren so he could ride her for a week. Loren said she was a good mule, so I bought her and had her shipped to Washington in October 2014. I underwent the shoulder surgery right after that and wasn’t permitted to ride for almost a year, so Lucy got a vacation. I was finally able to ride and really fell in love with Lucy.
Last spring Lucy’s left eye started weeping and I could see a little dimple in her cornea. The local veterinarian treated her for a couple of weeks for an eye infection. Following that treatment he gave the okay to resume riding Lucy, but after a week the eye was weeping even worse and she was not tolerating light in that eye. This time I took her to Northwest Equine in Hobart, Wash., about 90 miles from my place. She was diagnosed with an ulcer in her eye. A lavage tube was inserted into the upper eyelid and the tube was stitched to her forehead and along her neck. I was required to administer four types of medicine four times a day. Lucy was tolerant throughout; she never fussed or refused to be caught. This treatment lasted five weeks, until the vet was satisfied that it had healed sufficiently. The eye has very little scarring, in fact, if you don’t look closely it isn’t noticeable. Lucy seems to see out of that eye just fine, because when we are on the trail she will swipe a bite along the trail on the left. We have been on several rides in the Cascades this fall and she has been fine.
The photos were taken by Selena Davis of our ride to Goat Rocks Wilderness, along the Pacific Crest Trail. The mountain in the distance is Mt. Rainier and the Goat Lake is visible in some of the photos. During all of the eye treatment I realized what a great mule I have; Lucy has personality, loves people, and is never crabby!