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Mules of Distinction


Steve Foster

Steve Foster stands with one of his champion mules.

Steve and Pam Foster, of Front Royal, VA, couldn't be more proud of their ‘champion' mules. Talk to them for five minutes, maybe less, and you'll know a little about each of these three amazing animals.

There's Missy, the champion of champions, who also likes to cut a rug. They have Abby, the sweetheart with a serious competitive streak. And Baby Grace, the up-and-comer who is as loyal as they come.

It's clear that loyalty is a trait that all of the Fosters' mules embody. "A mule gets attached to you like a dog, he becomes your companion," Steve explained. "As soon as they hear that diesel coming, they know I'm home." This may be why, after almost 40 years, Steve is still training and showing mules. "I've been in mules since 1968," he mentioned. Like so many Mule dashespeople, he began working with mules for raccoon hunting. Mules were brought into the sport because of their ability to jump over fences from a complete stand still.

Mule jumping is now an event that Foster is proud to participate in. Missy, a mule of nearly 14, has a high jump of 73". Missy has won many titles in her years as a jumper. Like a proud father, Steve admits, "she won the World Jump in Pea Ridge, Arkansas in 2004 with a jump of 72". She also holds the Virginia state record in jumping." These facts alone are impressive, but it's Missy's flare for the dramatic that makes her even more special. Missy is a dancer. Cue the music, and all eyes are on her. "She goes up and smells the pole. Then she'll twist and carry on. She's just awesome." A mule leapsSounds like something you've got to see to believe!

Now Abby, on the other hand, is known for being all business in the arena. Steve's wife Pam says proudly, "Abby knows she's good and it shows." This kind of winner's attitude must be why Abby places in the top three of most competitions, not only against other mules, but horses, too. In April 2007 she won the Delaware Governor's Cup, her second win in this competition. This fourteen-year-old also knows when it's time to relax. Steve says she's calm as can be when she's trail-riding. "Kids can ride her," he exclaims, "but when she steps into that arena with the steers or barrels or poles, she gets fired up. All you have to do is hold onto the horn and she'll do the rest." This is oneA mule vaults multi-talented mule. She participates mostly in speed events; barrel racing, pole bending, and cross country, to name a few.

The youngest of the bunch, Baby Grace, is another mule with many talents. At just two years old, she's already broken for riding and pulling a buggy. Grace is a jumper, too! She recently placed third in a show, with a jump of 55". Missy placed first in that same competition. Steve sees Grace following Missy's trail, which is why he's taking her to Pea Ridge, AR next year to take part in the competition that Missy won a few years back. "I look for Grace to win the world next year," he mentioned. It seems that Steve has a soft spot for Baby Grace. "If I'm out here in the yard, she comes to me. She just jumps right over the fence." Now that's loyalty.

Not to be overshadowed are the two older mules, Moses and Simon, that the Fosters also have. Although they are retired from the competition arena, they still trail ride and take part in fun community activities. Steve jokes that Moses "has got to be thirty something years old and still going strong. He's a little hard of hearing, though." Steve attributes his animals' health and longevity to the Southern States products they're fed daily. They feed the mules twice a day with Legends® CarbCare Show & Pleasure, purchased from Front Royal Co-op in Virginia. And for a special treat, they get a few MannaPro apple wafers.


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