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Interesting Hobbies – Mule Riding

By Danny Keating, Director of the Louisiana/Mississippi HVAC Insider

About thirty-five years ago, Kevin Bernard found an interesting way to relieve stress and see the outdoors at the same time. He started riding horses on local trail rides. He soon started riding from his house in Lafayette to Elizabeth, Louisiana, which is about a 100-mile journey by saddleback, to celebrate an all woods trail ride called “Christmas in the Country.” This would take Kevin 5 days since it was strictly done by saddleback and covered wagons. No motorized vehicles were used. Mules were used to pull the wagons and horses were used for riding. Kevin became impressed with the stamina, the strength, and generally how well the mules held up to the workload. Kevin then decided to ride a mule instead of a horse. He was (and still is) impressed at how sure footed, smart, personable, strong, and friendly mules are.

Danny Keating

About thirty-five years ago, Kevin Bernard found an interesting way to relieve stress and see the outdoors at the same time. He started riding horses on local trail rides. He soon started riding from his house in Lafayette to Elizabeth, Louisiana, which is about a 100-mile journey by saddleback, to celebrate an all woods trail ride called “Christmas in the Country.” This would take Kevin 5 days since it was strictly done by saddleback and covered wagons. No motorized vehicles were used. Mules were used to pull the wagons and horses were used for riding. Kevin became impressed with the stamina, the strength, and generally how well the mules held up to the workload. Kevin then decided to ride a mule instead of a horse. He was (and still is) impressed at how sure footed, smart, personable, strong, and friendly mules are.

On a later trip to west Texas, Kevin rode a mule while his friends (including Danny Campbell) rode horses. The group would pick a mountain and ride to the top and then pick another mountain and ride to the top. After doing this for two straight days Kevin made a few observations. Kevin explained “I was the only one on a mule and quickly noticed how my mule would simply walk up the steep parts of the mountains while the horses had to lunge up. This is because a mule is four-wheel drive compared to a horse. A horse’s front legs are simply for steering while a mules’ front legs will pull while his rear legs will push.” Kevin became a devoted mule rider.

Kevin continued, “I love talking about mules and the places I have ridden as well as the places that I plan to go. Several years after switching to mules, I was on the Internet and I found some places that offered the opportunity to camp and ride in various mountain ranges across the country. This excited me, and I decided to start visiting some of these places. All have access to national or state forests and most of these places are only accessible to saddleback riding. We do cloverleaf riding, which means we return to the same campsite every night, normally riding 15-20 miles each day in different directions each day. I have participated in several ‘all mule’ rides in different states. One was with people from 24 states and 3 foreign countries with over 500 mules total in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. We would divide into groups of 4-10 people to ride to various sites such as Garden of the Gods, Knights of the Golden Circle, Dead Horse Canyon, The Teepee, Hurricane Bluff, and Whiskey Cave.” It was an incredible time.

Kevin concluded, “You are not going to see these beautiful but remote places unless you’re riding. I have been riding in various states including Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, and Colorado. Most of these destinations can only be achieved by saddleback or hiking (and some not even by hiking because of the steepness and the distance). You get to see the remote locations and you also get to meet interesting people from different places. Some of the sights I have seen include Pedestal Rock, Buzzards Rock, Blue Mountain, many parts of the Buffalo River, Ferris Ridge, Caney Rim, Twin Falls, Box Canyon, Spring Creek, One Horse Gap, Leatherwood Wilderness Area and many more. I have seen some unbelievably stunning and beautiful views such as waterfalls, bluffs, cliffs, caves, lookouts and mountain landscapes. It’s also remarkable how much these places change depending on the season of the year, which is why I have felt the need to ride in the extremes of snow and cold and of dry heat. I take lots of pictures, but of course pictures don’t ever do justice to the beautiful sights in nature.”

Editor’s Note: Kevin Bernard is the branch manager of Thomas Supply Company in Lafayette. He is a wonderful person and a joy with whom to conduct business. Kevin currently has three mules; Clyde (his favorite), Otis and Festus.

 

 

 

 

 

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