NOVEMBER 2009 FRONT COVER STORY Snow in Sunny California and Great Donkeys and Mules

by Jerri Moore - Hesperia, Calif.


Fall has come around again and we have had another busy year at our new place. As we mentioned in our story last year we found an old thoroughbred ranch to move our donkey breeding operation. We moved in Thanksgiving week. Our family was looking forward to seeing the new place, so we hosted the family Thanksgiving meal. Luckily we always do a potluck, so we only had to cook the turkey, which turned out to be more of a chore than we thought. We learned Thanksgiving morning the only setting the old stove worked on was self-cleaning. We opened and closed the oven door all day to try and maintain the correct temperature; the only part of the turkey that didn’t survive this cooking process was the wings. The meal turned out well and it was an enjoyable holiday.

Two weeks after we moved in we had the largest snowfall for our area in the past 30 years; it snowed 18 inches in a 24-hour period. Before we moved we asked folks in the area if they received much snow and they assured us only a few inches, and it would melt right away. This time major highways between Southern California and Las Vegas, Nev., were closed for two days. I know this doesn’t seem like a lot for those of you in the north that receive blizzards, but here in “sunny” California we practically shut the state down when we get a little snow. I wasn’t able to get down the pass to work, which was OK since it took several hours to get the animals fed. Charlie had to remove a pine tree that fell on the backhoe so he could clear the snow. He made paths between pastures and runs so we could feed the critters that afternoon.

We hadn’t had time to fix all the shelters so we had to put the old man Rooster and our 23-year old tease stallion in the barn along with the weanlings. We herded all the brood jennies into one of the pastures with a shelter and the mules and geldings into another pasture with shelter. The broodmares don’t ever get along with each other, so they had to suffer in separate runs with partial shelters. We had to dig out blankets that were still packed in trunks. My sister, Barbara’s little old quarter mare, Tara, was staying with us and we put one of Rooter’s World Champion Jack blankets on her (Rooster “head shot” is pictured on the front cover of Mule and More this month). Barbara has quarter horses and paints and always teases us about our long eared animals, so I made sure to take a picture of Tara in Rooster’s blanket to tease her back.

Snow stayed on the ground for over a week, but feeding was much easier once we could get around with the truck.

We also discovered the water pipes on the place were very old; the first one ruptured when the snow thawed. We went out to feed and found an ice river between the donkey barn and feed barn. It started flowing once the sun came out. This was the first of numerous water leaks we encountered over the next six months. We began turning the water main off every night so we didn’t wake up to geysers in the morning. There was a maze of water lines running all different directions to every inch of the property. At one point we were watering every animal on the place out of one water faucet. The local hardware store made a fortune on us in water hoses; you would be amazed at how many hoses it takes to water six acres.

We spent most of last summer restoring water to all of the pastures, runs, and barn. We still need to work on a drip system for all of the trees. Our son, Corey has become the official ‘tree waterer’. He goes out every day and waters all the trees and donkeys. Corey was also in charge of giving Charlotte, our 400 pound pig, a pig puddle every day during the summer; she likes to take the hose away from us and spray everything around her, including the person doing the watering. She is quite a character.

We finally have a Rooster jenny that is old enough to breed this year. We did a lot of searching and finally decided on breeding her to Jacque Benny. We have watched this jack at Bishop Mule Days for quite a few years and think he will be an excellent cross with our stock. We could have had Jacque’s owners, Glen and Carol West of West Farm Mules, Las Vegas, (www.westfarmmules.com), ship the semen to us as they do an excellent job of collecting and shipping, but we wanted to visit. So we loaded Martha, the jenny, and headed to Vegas. We ran into snow going over Mount Summit; snow seemed to be a theme for us this past winter. We arrived a little later than we hoped, so Glen and Carol invited us to spend the night. We had a great time reminiscing about the good times we used to have at the Wild West Saloon in Bishop. Glen makes a mean margarita, and hopefully you don’t have any early morning classes the next day.

Martha got in foal right away, but we waited until we were sure there wasn’t any chance of more snow before we picked her up. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jacqueline (yes, we are hoping for a girl) in February. We’ll have her on our website (www.braymoorestables.com) as soon as she arrives.

In February we had a tragedy. We lost our most favorite breeding jenny, Straight Fellow Farms Hannah Cole; she gave birth to a beautiful jack colt and hemorrhaged shortly after he was born. This jenny was a half-sister to one of Tex Taylor’s (www.bramothfarm.com) reference sires, Rancho La Burrada Walter. She is the dam of Braymoore’s Condor, our three time World Champion Jack, and Braymoore’s Eagle, our other outstanding breeding jack. She is also the dam of Braymoore’s Martha Washington, Braymoore’s Miss Katy, owned by Doug and Sue Wallace of Osceola Kingdom Longears, (www.oklongears.com) and Braymoore’s Hawk, her last jack colt. Hannah will be greatly missed; she was an outstanding producer of fine jack stock. Luckily we had a lactating jenny, Ada, that accepted Hawk so he didn’t have to be bottle fed.

It took us until March to start preparing for Bishop Mule Days. We were out driving the boys on our one-eighth mile track with two layers of clothing just to keep warm. We had our mule, Glory, in training with Tim Phillips, so we didn’t have to worry about getting her worked (Tim and Glory are featured on the cover of Mules and More this month). So, we concentrated on the critters we were taking. Braymoore’s Condor and Braymoore’s Sultan were being driven every other day to build up their endurance to be able to compete in some classes. We were lunging and working Braymoore Mamie Eisenhower and Braymoore Margaret Taylor, our 2-year-old jennies for halter and in-hand trail. Percilla was keeping in shape for her youth classes by teaching the 2-year-olds how to pony. Percilla was being shown by McKenzie Herbert in the 13 and under division, and she comes on weekends and works with her.

We only took two trailers instead of three to Bishop this year. I had been working too many hours at my other job at a local hospital, so we ended up not being able to get ready for as many classes as we wanted. We made the decision to spend our time videoing all of Tim’s classes on Glory, so I have some reference tools when I start riding her.She was awesome in the jumping classes, finishing second in the green jumper; she also finished second in reining, and placed very well in most of her green classes. We might go for the all around green mule next year.

We were very excited to win the honor of World Champion Jack with Braymoore’s Condor for the third straight year. Jerry Rush of Sycamore Springs Ranch, Locust Grove, Okla., (www..sycamorespringsranch.net) showed Rooster’s son, Sycamore Springs Joe to the titles of Reserve World Champion Jack and Reserve Champion Performance Donkey. Joe’s offspring also won Get of Sire and World Champion Model Saddle Mule. Congratulations Jerry on your great success with Sycamore Springs Joe; you have done a great job with him, we are very proud.


Jerry was also gracious enough to bring Corey’s jenny to Bishop with him that we purchased last summer from Pete Cooper of Miami, Okla. We let Corey name her and she now goes by the name of Cuddles. Corey has taken full responsibility for her; he feeds and waters her every day, and is eager to start her training this fall. We are going to start with teaching her to lunge and ground drive. She is quite athletic and should make Corey a very good riding donkey some day. Corey is hoping to have Cuddles ready for a class at Bishop next year.

We are busy working on setting up our collecting facility for the spring. We didn’t get to it last spring.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to take a vacation this last summer. I took Mondays off work the month of July and most of the three day weekends were spent working on repairs and clean up around the ranch. We lovingly call our new place “the money pit,” every time we fix one thing something else is always waiting to be done. Some day it will be the place we dreamed of when we moved in. We did get to go on one trail ride over the summer. The Sheriff’s Posse puts on a fund raising ride each year at Los Flores Ranch; this is a very large local cattle ranch that also puts on a round-up each spring. They herd the cattle through our little town to begin the local county fair; it is quite a sight to see cattle going down the city streets and into the fairgrounds. The benefit trail ride had about 100 riders in attendance; there were several mule riders and only one donkey, our boy, Sully.

We have been riding and showing Sully for a few years now and thought it was about time to see how he handled a big ride. The riders were all gathered at the trailhead waiting orders to start the ride by crossing the river. Sully had never been through a river and didn’t really like it; we finally had to put a lead rope on him and have Percilla pony him in to get started. He didn’t show any fear of the water, just didn’t want to get his feet wet. We were very proud of him for the rest of the ride. He kept up with the other horses and mules on the ride and even out-walked quite a few of them. We had a drink break about half way through the ride and Sully waited patiently while we all refreshed ourselves with the free drinks provided by the Sheriff’s Posse. This was a fantastic ride ending with a barbecue and a raffle. I’m sure we’ll be attending again next year.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers who purchased breedings to our fine jacks this past year and wish you well with your mule and donkey foals. We always have fine stock available for sale and stand some exceptional jacks for your breeding consideration. If you are ever in our neck of the desert please give us a call and come on by…we have plenty of room for visiting critters also.

Charlie, Jerri and Corey Moore
Braymoore Stables
www.braymoorestables.com
16259 Mesquite Street
Hesperia, California 92345
Ranch Phone: 760/669-5842
Cell Phone: 951/662-5806

February 2010 Front Cover Story - From the Dirt Roads of Oklahoma to Arena Dirt

by Jerry Rush
Sycamore Springs Ranch
918-598-3554
www.sycamorespringsranch.net
jerryrush@sycamorespringsranch.net


In life, to be successful at anything, you must set goals. To set a goal, you must make a plan. To make a plan you must focus and believe in the end results. To have the desired end results, you must have determination, along with dedication, to achieve your goal.

That’s what was on my mind when I was unloading my jack, Sycamore Springs Joe for the first time at the ranch. Joe’s arrival was long awaited, as I had purchased him from Charlie and Jerri Moore of Braymoore Stables in southern California, from a picture they had while at Bishop Mule Days that May. As I looked at Joe’s head, neck and refined body when he jumped out of the trailer, along with his calm disposition, I felt my dreams had come true. I had never had the opportunity to own an animal like this, one that dreams are made of.

Las Vegas at the 2009 Bishop Mule Days

My being a mule and donkey lover or the desire to breed and raise quality stock just didn’t happen overnight, or while watching Joe being unloaded; it began many years ago as a young teenager growing up.

In the earlier years of becoming a teen, I spent many days on horseback. Back then all the roads around home were dirt and there weren’t many fences in Oklahoma. We could ride for hours in most directions from the house and never touch a fence. Probably some of the most memorable times of all were the several years of trips I made with my childhood friend Chuck over the dirt road from the house to the local church we attended at Four Corners.

If that old road could talk it would tell of the vivid imagination two boys shared while riding back from church on nights sometimes so dark you couldn’t see your own hand in front of your face. The times we would take turns telling ghostly stories, just trying to scare each other, but then soon to chime in with each other singing at the top of our lungs. Trying to scare off all the ‘boogers’ we had just created in our wild stories as we rode. When you’re a young boy, miles from the house on a long lonely road without even a flashlight, you have no idea as to what all your imagination can conjure up, especially when most times at night we rarely saw a vehicle on the road. It really got bad when one of our horses would get tender-footed and we would have to get off and lead them home, then there was no protection from our horses for us. It seemed as if all of the big oak trees hanging over the road would turn into big giants as we rode by, just waiting to reach down and scoop us up.

Las Vegas as a colt in 2007

During one of the times my horse had become tender-footed, my grandfather came for a visit. Grandpa and I really enjoyed each other. As soon as he could run me down he would ask all about my riding. Growing up on horseback Grandpa always shared stories from his childhood of his many adventures. In telling him how our horses came up tender so often (horseshoes weren’t an option for our budget in those days) he started the converting of my life. In the past Grandpa always told stories of a black horse he had ridden as a youth. But he had never mentioned the team of black mules he used for years when he was older and working the fields. Grandpa had a passion for mules I had never realized; his stories of the team soon replaced all the ones of the black horse. He told of the many long days the mules were used for plowing, and then later in the year to harvest and to pull the sled used to feed the cattle. When not working, he would ride them to town.

Particularly, the mules were used without shoes most of the times. Of course the ground shape they were used on was a factor. The knowledge of handling mules that Grandpa taught me will never be forgotten. This is something he passed on to me and I have passed on to others.

Needless to say, only a very short time passed before Chuck and I both had mules. They first replaced the horseback riding on the old dirt road. When winter came they packed us over all those rough and steep hills where we coon hunted. Up until we had got our mules we always walked to hunt. The hills around home were steep with lots of brush and loose rock that horses couldn’t handle well, but after we got the mules broke, even these hills were an easy task for them.

As years went by I continued my love for mules. Even though I had ridden and owned a lot of nice mules I still had never found one that fit my true desires. The mules I found were more of the draft type or heavier boned. I wanted one that looked like a quarter horse; one that had hips, enough withers to hold the saddle well, a small head, and refinement with medium to light bone…..basically, a horse with long ears. Today you may go to shows all over the country and find the type of mules I described, but they were hard to find in the early 80s.

During these years mule playdays (then sometimes called showdeo’s) were springing up everywhere close to home. They were so much fun, not for just me, but for my sons also. It was something we could all compete at and do together. At the time there were lots of mules, but no donkeys. The more I attended these events, the more I loved to go, not just to compete, but to look at all the different types of mules and ponder on the thought of finding just the right jack and the right type broodmares to someday try my luck at breeding a different type of mule. At that time in my life I wasn’t in the position to purchase the animals, but promised myself this day would come.

I continued my love of mules from the playdays/showdeo’s to my yearly hunting and trail riding trips out west. In 1999 things started changing, we were fortunate to finally make the trip to Bishop Mule Days; a long jaunt from northeast Oklahoma, but well worth the trip. This was an experience I will never forget. I met individuals that in time would be a big influence in my breeding program. I met mule men like the late Ben Freeman, Rufus Reese, trainer Tim Phillips, and breeders Charlie and Jerri Moore, just to name a few. This show was like nothing I had ever seen in my life, from the animals to the contestants, to the facility, to the breeders, to the trainers, showmen and women, to the hard-working volunteers that made such an event so great.

I returned to Bishop in 2003 in search of a jack to start my breeding program. In 1999 I was so blown away watching Jerri do the barrel races on their jack Rooster. The way Rooster turned and reined and the way he carried himself was very impressive. The first stop I made was to visit Charlie to see if there were any jacks sired by Rooster for sale. To my grateful surprise he had a young large standard colt born in April. The more he told me of the colt the more I hoped this would be the one I was looking for. After returning to Oklahoma I received photos from Jerri. The little jack was what I had always thought would help produce the mules I wanted. The first thing that caught my eye was his horse-like head. Even at this young age he reflected a well-refined body and medium to light bone structure. This donkey, Sycamore Springs Joe, was soon at our ranch.

Socorro sired by Sycamore Springs joe, as a colt in 2007

Two years later, I was repeating this moment as I unloaded Sycamore Springs Jake. A black mammoth jack, he was a sight unseen purchase from Doug Waugh of Locust Creek Mules in Mayslick, Ky. This purchase was made from recommendations from my friend Ben Freeman after he had seen the jack and felt it would fit my program. I was rather skeptical about buying Jake without seeing him, but Ben was the type of man that no matter what he told you, you could take it to the bank. Jake was around 16 months old at this time, but was the right refinement and bone structure for my plans, with a disposition to match. My dream was now becoming reality.


Joe hit the show circuit as a 2-year-old, making his mark. The next step was finding the right broodmares to breed to him. I started with hand-picked homozygous mares I purchased from Gary Manly in Indiana. Besides breeding for size and refinement I wanted to add color. My ideas of spotted colts using the homozygous mares fell short the next year when my colts from them only reflected stocking legs, rather than spots. Still, they were beautiful colts. Other mares I purchased were grey quarter horses of various breeding, including Hancock, Foundation, and Dash for Cash. These mares all threw roan colts. Within the first and second year of my colt crops I had quite the selection. I quickly made my pick of the colts that caught my eye the most…..a molly from the first year, Taos, and her full sister Socorro, along with a stocking legged black molly, Las Vegas, from the second year. These are the three I pictured and highlighted in a story published in the February 2007 issue of Mules and More focusing on them as the ones to show from my breeding program. I knew then they would be special, they were my pick.

Las Vegas was like Joe, even at a few days old, as you can see in her picture, she was well-refined and had the build of a horse. This year at Bishop Mule Days the three colts won Get Of Sire. Then Las Vegas went on to win three first halter divisions and Reserve World Champion Model Saddle Mule. Joe won Reserve World Champion Jack as well as Reserve World Champion Donkey.

My breeding program took many years to become a reality, with more colts at Sycamore Springs Ranch to train and more to foal this spring. This year will be the first for colts out of Jake. He has made his mark in the show ring as well, and both he and Joe have a bright future ahead of them. I am exceptionally proud of these two donkeys, and upcoming mules, Las Vegas, Socorro and Taos, who were all raised and trained here at the ranch. All are very special in their own way.

There are so many great jacks in various breeding programs, and I am very thankful and blessed to have two of them. Due to personal health issues I was not able to have Joe, Jake and the mules at any shows after Bishop Mule Days last year, but I am hoping we will back on the road soon.

Jerry Rush with Taos at the 2009 Bishop Mule Days


In 2009 efforts were underway to build a multi-use facility with three separate arenas at Sycamore Springs Ranch, to be used for all types of equine events, with beginning plans to focus on mules shows and events. The arena was featured on RFD and GACTV last year and the main arena was nominated by the W.P.R.A. for the Justin Best Footing award after a 3-day futurity and derby.

Look for mule events to come back to northeast Oklahoma this summer!

Thank you Charlie and Jerri for Joe, and thanks Doug for Jake. Also, I would like to send a special thanks to trainers Dale Chancellor, Dan and Tabitha Holland, Gary Bass, and Wes Stepp.

For more information on breeding, mules for sale and upcoming events at Sycamore Springs Ranch, please visit our official website www.sycamorespringsranch.net or contact me at jerryrush@sycamorespringsranch.net.