A Respectful Feel Good Sunday ~ For Horse Lovers Who Loved Tom Petty: A Remembrance

By Susan Wagner – President of Equine Advocates

“Now I’m free
Free fallin’
Yeah, I’m free
Free fallin’…”

It was just yesterday when the world learned the results of the autopsy on music legend Tom Petty who passed away last year at the age of 66.

Rolling Stone reported, “After months of speculation, a medical examiner has ruled that Tom Petty died of an accidental overdose, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner…Petty had been prescribed the drugs to treat emphysema, knee issues and a fractured hip, his family said in a statement accompanying the results. Petty’s coronary artery disease had been a persistent problem throughout his final tour…”

There are some artists whose music speaks to people in a way that is so profound and special that it puts them in a class by themselves. Tom Petty was one of those artists.

He had millions of fans worldwide, but for us at Equine Advocates, it was his acknowledgement of our organization and our work to end horse slaughter that was a real high point for me. In October of 2016, he and his wife, Dana, signed a petition we originated that called for the end of horse slaughter. Petty was the first celebrity among many to sign on and posted news about the petition on the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers official website so that his fans became aware of the issue and could sign the petition as well.

Who could have imagined that a exactly a year later Tom Petty would no longer be with us? I have been a fan of his since the 1980’s and the song of his that has extra special meaning for me is “I Won’t Back Down.” I feel that in every fight we take on in life, one has to have determination…and it is such a universal song that people from all walks of life can relate to it.

Tom Petty is sorely missed but he lives on forever in his music. SW

Veteran’s Day Tribute: “12 Strong” America’s Horse Soldiers

“Each and every Veteran’s Day we attempt to highlight equine bravery that has helped to keep this country free and with that said, we usually land on telling the story of Sgt. Reckless, a little mare that attained the rank of Sgt. in the Marine Corp. during the Korean war.  But there have been so many other horses who have served bravely and some not all that long ago.  Which brings us to the upcoming release of the movie “12 STRONG” the unclassified true story of America’s first soldiers to enter Afghanistan after 9/11 and they did it on horseback.

We are not hyping a movie but instead applauding the telling of an important tale where horses were one of the most important components of battling for America’s freedom and sovereignty.

To all my fellow veterans, (both 2 and 4 legged) thank you for your sacrifice, your service and the pledge that you made to your commander-in-chief, country and God.  You are the backbone of our freedom and independence while being true role models for generations to come.  For you I stand with pride and tears in my eyes during the playing of the National Anthem.  May God bless you all.” ~ R.T.

Chris Hemsworth (“Thor,” “The Avengers” films) and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road,” “Nocturnal Animals”) star in “12 Strong,” a powerful new war drama from Alcon Entertainment, Black Label Media and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Based on the best-selling book Horse Soldiers, it is story of heroism based on true events that unfolded a world away in the aftermath of 9/11.

Award-winning director Nicolai Fuglsig directed the film, which is produced by legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer (the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, “Black Hawk Down”), together with Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill (“La La Land,” “Sicario”) under their Black Label Media banner. Oscar winner Ted Tally (“The Silence of the Lambs”) and Peter Craig (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Parts 1 & 2”) wrote the screenplay, based on the acclaimed book by best-selling author Doug Stanton. The executive producers are Oscar nominees and Alcon principals Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson (“The Blind Side”), together with Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Ellen H. Schwartz, Garrett Grant, Yale Badik, Val Hill and Doug Stanton.

“12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.

Feel Good Sunday: Raven the Dancing Mule

“Those of us who are blessed by being allowed to live our daily lives with God’s magical equines often see funny and goofy moments that come and go in blink, long before you can get that iPhone out of your pocket.  But in this case, the young mule Raven ensured that her guardian had plenty of time to view her antics as she attempted to impress her mother.  Gotta love um!”` R.T.

“Raven the mule is 8 weeks old and very full of herself. But watch what happens at the 25-second mark and how embarrassed she is. Turn up your audio for full effect of her snorts, grunts and groans (maybe a fart or two?). Raven is happy, healthy, joyful — you’ll notice she’s “fighting” with a small white rock and basically showing off!

Raven’s mother is Kona, a Tennessee Walker; her father is a donkey named Jack. “

Feel Good Sunday: Horses are Hilarious

“It’s Sunday and time for a chuckle.  This compilation is a long one, filled with commercials that you can bypass but well worth the watch.  If you are lucky enough to live with horses you have seen each and every one of these antics but I will caution, on the safety side, letting your horse hang his or head out of a moving trailer is never a good idea nor is allowing a horse to rear and cavort next to a T-Post fence with no post end covers…all bad.  With that being said, have a chuckle, enjoy, relax and we will get back after the battle in the morning.  Be safe my friends.” ~ R.T.

East Texas Equine Evacuation / Disaster Relief Network

“Elaine Nash is hard at it again…if you can help, please do so.” ~ R.T.


New saddle under the Christmas tree? You need this free fitting guide!

From Horse Talk

“A well-designed and correctly fitted saddle is vital to the performance of both horse and rider.”

Read more: http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2016/12/27/new-saddle-christmas-free-fitting-guide/#ixzz4U02mu9N4 Reuse: Interested in sharing with your readers? You are welcome to use three or four paragraphs, with a link back to the article on Horsetalk. Follow us: @HorsetalkNZ on Twitter | Horsetalk on Facebook Measuring the 3-dimensional shape of the horse’s back with the Arc Device™.Measuring the 3-dimensional shape of the horse’s back with the Arc Device™.

Were you so good this year that there was a new saddle under your Christmas tree? It may make you very happy, but you need to be sure that your horse is happy, too. Master saddle Jochen Schleese provides some advice – and a free guide on saddle fit.

The art of fitting a saddle to both horse and rider is something which is not explained in a few sentences; indeed something new can be learned every day, as each client brings with him or herself something different to consider. It’s not rocket science, but it is a science, combined with the artistry of actually building the saddle. It is important to work closely with veterinarians and physiotherapists and other equine professionals to constantly ensure the most optimal combination of horse, rider and saddle.

Anatomical considerations of both horse and rider are a key determinant in how to choose the correct saddle. If your generous benefactor got you a saddle for Christmas I hope they involved both you and your horse and didn’t just choose a ‘pretty saddle’. (Which I have to say – unfortunately many of them are, including one really high-end prestigious company whose saddles are not really all that equine-friendly at the end of the day!)

The proper way to measure the seat size of an English saddle is diagonally from either saddle nail, on the side of the pommel, to the centre of the cantle. Adult seat sizes vary from 16″ to 19″, with 17″ to 17 1/2″ being the most common – but even these are variable, as the position of these nails can be pretty arbitrary, depending on the mood of the saddler on any given day…(CONTINUED)

saddle-fit-eguideClick (HERE) to download free Saddle Fit eGuied


Hurricane Matthew Evacuation Resources for Horse Owners

Source: HorseChannel.com

Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina will experience the impacts of the hurricane through this weekend.

emergprephorseHurricane Matthew has taken a devastating path through the Caribbean and is now bearing down on the coast of Florida. It is expected to move along the southeast United States coast through the weekend.

Residents of the areas of projected impact have been urged to evacuate. Here are some evacuation resources for horse owners in affected states:

Florida Resources:

A searchable database of relocation resources is available at evac.flahorse.com If you have space available in a safe location, you can also provide your information to help other horse owners.

Bar M Ranch Rescue has offered stabling and is compiling some evacuation resources on its Facebook page.

The Florida Horse Park in Ocala has offered stalls for evacuees for $10/night as well as trailer hookups for $25/night. Contact publicrelations@flhorsepark.com or call 352-307-6699

Floridahorse.com lists these resources on its website.

  • Sunshine State Horse Council – Searchable stable directory
  • Sumter Equestrian Center, Bushnell, FL – emergency stabling and camping – 352-303-4325 LEAVE A MESSAGE.
  • Marion County Animal Care and Control (352) 671-8900
  • Broward County Animal Care and Control (954) 359-1313
  • Palm Beach County Are and Control (561) 233-1201

Georgia Resources:

News4Jax.com lists these pet-friendly shelters:

Houston County * Horses ONLY* 60 Stalls
Georgia National Fairgrounds
401 Larry Walker Parkway
Perry, GA 31069

Sumter County
Sumter County Humane Society
108 Industrial Blvd
Americus, GA 31719

Tift County
Tift County Extension Bldg
1468 Carpenter Rd
Tifton, GA 31794

South Carolina Resources:

The Hippodrome in Aiken County has 300 stalls available. South Carolina residents can call 211 for more information about stabling at the Hippodrome, as well as finding pet-friendly accommodations as most shelters do not allow pets.

North Carolina Resources:

The Equine Disaster Response Alliance maintains a list of emergency facilities here.

There are two regional shelters available depending on the storm track.

Martin Center in Williamston

Hunt Complex in Raleigh

Virginia Resources:

The Virginia Horse Park in Lexington is offering free stalls for evacuees if the storm reaches Virginia before moving out to see. Contact the stabling office at (540) 464-2966.

Be prepared for a natural disaster in your area. Visit HorseChannel.com/Emergency for more resources for horse owners.

Likewise, Elaine Nash on Facebook has a wealth of information: https://www.facebook.com/elaine.nash?fref=ts

While Some Park Rangers Head To Greener Pastures, Their Horses Aren’t So Lucky

By Barbara Moritsch as published in the National Parks Traveler

Although most people don’t know it, the horse slaughter industry is alive and thriving in the United States.

“Norman,” a retired NPS steed, was destined for a slaughterhouse outside of the United States before he was rescued/Photo courtesy of Kat Gonzales

“Norman,” a retired NPS steed, was destined for a slaughterhouse outside of the United States before he was rescued/Photo courtesy of Kat GonzalesMy first partner in my first job with the National Park Service was a dark bay mare. I was extremely popular with the kids when I’d show up at the General Sherman Tree or Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park riding Sweets. So you can imagine the shock and horror I felt last August when I learned that three NPS horses were on a feedlot in Colorado, waiting to be shipped to a slaughterhouse in Mexico.

In September of 2014, my husband and I rescued our first kill pen horse: a coal black, BLM-branded mustang in his mid-20s. Since then we’ve been able to do the same for 19 other horses in the same predicament. I regularly monitor Facebook pages that list these equines-in-need, and in August I spotted a photo of a big sorrel horse with the caption: “Fern, NPS Horse.” I scrolled further and found two more: a black and white paint gelding named Fairplay, and a big, thin sorrel gelding named Norman. All three of these beautiful, fit-looking NPS horses were at immediate risk of being “shipped.” I was stunned. How could we allow an NPS horse to end its career at a slaughterhouse?

Although most people don’t know it, the horse slaughter industry is alive and thriving in the United States. Ten years ago, Congress passed an act prohibiting the use of federal funds to inspect horse slaughterhouses, which ultimately led to closure of all facilities in the United States. It’s still legal, however, and lucrative, to ship horses to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, “Slaughter is a brutal and terrifying end for horses, and it is not humane. Horses are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water, or rest in crowded trucks. They are often seriously injured or killed in transit. Horses are skittish by nature (owing to their heightened fight-or-flight response), which makes accurate pre-slaughter stunning difficult. As a result, horses often endure repeated blows and sometimes remain conscious during dismemberment—this is rarely a quick, painless death.”

Fortunately, numerous people are working to end the transport of horses for slaughter in the United States, and to save horses that find themselves in the “slaughter pipeline.” A horse enters this pipeline when a “kill buyer” finds a free or inexpensive animal advertised on Craigslist or in the newspaper, or buys horses at public auctions. In most cases, the horses are hauled to feedlots, where they are microchipped for shipping and fattened up on substandard feed before being hauled to the border. The fatter the better; the horses will be sold by the pound.

Groups in several states try to find homes for the feedlot horses before they ship. In these situations, the kill buyers charge a few hundred dollars more per horse than they would get from the killers. Many groups use Facebook pages to post photos of the kill-pen horses. For some horses, limited information is provided: sex, approximate age, and deadline (when the horse is scheduled to ship). Occasionally, there are a few notes: “very friendly,” “sound,” “injury to left leg,” “said to be broke.” The price also is posted, usually ranging from $200 for a yearling to $1,000 for a big draft horse. The rescuers sometimes give the horses names.

When the three NPS horses popped up on my screen, I immediately shared their pictures on the slim chance someone might recognize them. Over the next few days, two of the horses were saved by people I don’t know, but no one was stepping up for Norman.

I put out a call for help, and was contacted immediately by several former and present NPS employees. The Santa Monica Mountains Fund provided Norman’s bail to get him off the feedlot, and several individuals pulled together money to transport him to a safe foster home, and to cover his board while in foster care. In a wonderful gesture of kindness and generosity, one former NPS employee, Kat Gonzales, even offered Norman a forever home.

After we got him hauled off the feedlot, Norman was quarantined at a foster facility for 30 days, because horses from auctions and feedlots are under great stress and often are exposed to numerous equine diseases. The quarantine period helps prevent a new owner from taking a horse home and exposing their other horses. At the end of Norman’s quarantine, he was moved to his new retirement home in Minden, Nevada. A GoFundMe account was set up to pay for Norman’s ride to Nevada, as well as hoof trimming, vet bills, and lots of horse treats.

So this story had a happy ending. Fern, Fairplay, and Norman got lucky; very lucky. But these horses, who likely worked very hard for the National Park Service, came too close to ending their lives in terror at a Mexican slaughterhouse. This raises serious questions:

* How did they end up in the slaughter pipeline?

* What NPS policy is in place to ensure that hard-working equine rangers are guaranteed a safe retirement?

* Were Fern, Fairplay, and Norman simply unfortunate exceptions, or are numerous former NPS horses landing on slaughter lots and meeting gruesome ends?

While handling the logistics of getting Norman safe, healthy, and settled in his new home, a few of Norman’s supporters attempted to contact NPS managers to alert them to the fact that NPS horses were showing up on slaughter lots, and to inquire about NPS policy for retired equines.

Phone calls weren’t returned and emails generated no response. The Yellowstone Park Foundation (although polite and seemingly sympathetic) reported that they were not “privileged to release information” about equine retirement policies in the NPS. When a manager in the NPS’s Washington, D.C., Visitor and Resource Protection (VRP) Branch office finally responded, he told us to submit a Freedom of Information Act request. We are waiting for the information from this request.

What we do know is that the NPS defines live animals as property; basically, the same as a desk, gun, computer, or toilet brush. In the NPS Handbook for Director’s Order #44 (Personal Property Management), live animals are included on the list of “excess personal property” that can be donated to other entities. If such an animal is auctioned, there is a clause in DO44 that may prohibit anyone who had “prior contact with the item” from bidding. So if I had wanted to purchase the mare I rode on patrol in Sequoia after she was done with her career, I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to do so. Treating live animals the same as any other type of property is outdated and demeaning to these public employees, and is likely one of the primary reasons retiring equines are showing up on kill lots.

How could an NPS horse land on a feedlot that ships horses to slaughter? There are many ways it could happen, but it starts when a horse like Norman gets too old to do his job, or when the park where he is working decides to terminate their equine program. The park contacts a local horse rescue operation and asks for help in finding Norman a safe and comfortable retirement home. The rescue group finds Norman a home. Norman’s new owner dies, and the rescue is not notified of the person’s death. The heirs take Norman to a local auction, where he is purchased by a “kill buyer.” Or the new owner finds herself in a financial crisis and can’t keep Norman. Instead of contacting the rescue, she takes him to an auction. Few people know that all horses sold at auctions in the United States are at high risk of being purchased by a kill buyer. Approximately 130,000 horses per year are shipped out of the United States for slaughter every year.

National Park Service officials in Washington, D.C., however, cited a provision for disposing of horses and mules unfit for continued service.

§ 1308. Disposition of unfit horses and mules

Subject to applicable regulations under this subtitle and division C (except sections 3302, 3501(b), 3509, 3906, 4710, and 4711) of subtitle I of title 41, horses and mules belonging to the Federal Government that have become unfit for service may be destroyed or put out to pasture, either on pastures belonging to the Government or those belonging to financially sound and reputable humane organizations whose facilities permit them to care for the horses and mules during the remainder of their natural lives, at no cost to the Government.

That said, some horses and mules apparently fall through the cracks. Some parks relocate horses to other NPS units, which can be successful, but also has ended in at least one horse’s death when the receiving park employees were not horse savvy. Other parks work with local equine rescue groups to find homes for the retirees, and some horses have been passed on to nearby police departments.

Several years ago a now-retired NPS employee involved with Yosemite’s horse program drafted a retirement plan for NPS horses and sent it to NPS’s property management office in Washington, D.C., but the draft plan seems to have dropped out of sight.

On a brighter note, it became clear during our investigation that many NPS employees are very concerned about the fate of the agency’s hard-working equines after they retire. Sadly, as with so many other issues within NPS, these employees are afraid to speak out about their concerns because doing so could compromise their jobs.

In 2000, H.R. 5314.ENR, also called “Robbie’s Law,” was passed to facilitate the adoption of retired military working dogs. It is time for the Department of the Interior to promote a similar law (perhaps named Norman’s Law?) that would address the lives of working equines and other service animals from the time they are acquired to the time they are laid to rest.

Norman cannot tell us what his job was with the NPS. Unless someone recognizes him and steps up to tell us his story (and he is, by the way, easily recognizable by his very large size, his white star and strip, and his brushy moustache), we will never know what services he performed. Did he pull a wagon or sleigh? Did he walk long distances in the backcountry to rescue injured hikers? Did he proudly carry a ranger in the front country, having his photograph taken by thousands or millions of park visitors? If I had not seen the NPS horses on Facebook and if others had not immediately been willing to help, Norman, after his years of dedicated service, might have, in the words of one of his key supporters, “become a taco.”

The year 2106, when the NPS celebrates its centennial, is a perfect time for the Service to establish a rock-solid plan and policy to ensure NPS equines are safe and healthy in their retirement years. Let’s hope the agency will step up and take full responsibility for these horses who have been such reliable and beloved public employees. It’s the right thing to do.

Click (HERE) for more photos and to comment directly on The Traveler


Feel Good Sunday Update

International Equine ConferenceThis is a quickie as we are smack dab in the middle of the International Equine Conference where good and wonderful things are occurring.

 Can’t go into details but good things on the horizon and good things happened yesterday,  thanks to the team work of the Advocacy none of the Badlands Horses went to kill buyers at the auction.  They are all in safe hands.

 Details to follow.

 Keep the faith!

There Is a Man Wandering Around California With 3 Mules

Source: by  as published in The Atlantic

And, yes, he has a website!

There is a man wandering around California with three mules.

He has a name, but he prefers to go by Mule. Police departments throughout the state know his name. They inevitably get calls from residents who wonder why a man with three mules is sleeping on the side of the road, and from time to time they have to go and investigate and decide whether or not to ticket him. He has had so many run-ins with the police that he has a lawyer. (The lawyer knows Mule’s name.) The filmmaker John McDonald, who has spent hundreds of hours filming Mule on his journeys, and who helped Mule set up a Facebook page, knows Mule’s name as well.

But Mule introduced himself to me as Mule, and so that’s what I’m going to call him.

Mule is 65 years old and has slept outside with his three mules for the last 10 years, though he’s lived his nomadic lifestyle for much longer than that — 29 years on and off. Early on, he split his time between summer wandering, and then enduring what he calls “shit jobs” during the winter to earn enough to live off for the next summer.

He got his first mule in Spokane, Washington, so that he could carry more supplies with him into the bush than his meager, rail-thin frame can handle; McDonald says of Mule, “He has the build of Ghandi, but he sure doesn’t have the personality of Ghandi.” With his first mule, and then a second, and a third, he could load up on supplies to last him for much longer in the undeveloped parts of the American West, so he’d only have to resurface in towns to resupply once every month or so before once again disappearing.

But the world he inhabited was changing. While he sought solitude, he kept bumping into development. Land he had passed through was no longer public, and was vanishing behind fences. Everywhere he looked, he saw ever more roads and cars.

Two years ago, he walked the 295 mile stretch of land between Las Vegas and Ely, Nevada, land that was supposed to stay undeveloped by the Bureau of Land Management, land that had been used by Shoshone Indians for hundreds of years. In that BLM land, he encountered powerlines, the earliest stages of development. He knew then that he wanted to speak up about what he was seeing. Most immediately, suburban sprawl was threatening his way of life, but as Mule sees it, it threatens the way we all are meant to live. On the road to Ely, he gave up on wandering in the wild by himself. He got to Ely, and turned west, so that he could talk to people about the disappearance of public space.

Which is why there is a man wandering through California with three mules.

He has walked the boardwalk in Venice Beach with his mules. They once slept under a BART station in Oakland. They walk at day, and stop at night to rest in public spaces, which are mostly parks and neglected patches of grass along the sides of roads. His mules graze and drink the water they come across along the way. “We claim our right to use public space in a way that is applicable to us,” Mule told me.

But this does not always go well for Mule. As he walked through Sacramento, a police officer told him, “This is not okay. Maybe in the gold rush days. But now we have cars.” Police stop him constantly, which is a nuisance for Mule. He’s not doing anything wrong, at least as he sees it. “We don’t attempt to stay anywhere for more than a few days to rest. We don’t set up camp structures or anything permanent. We don’t collect garbage. We’re not homeless. Our home is the Earth.”

The police mostly let him stay for the night, since he’s only passing through. It’s rare to find places where mules are explicitly prohibited by law, so they often don’t have much to go on besides complaints from the community. Sometimes the police scare him off from where he intended to sleep for the night. Sometimes they ticket him, but they almost always drop the charges. But not always. He is currently facing a $485 charge for sleeping outside the entrance to the Torrey Pines State Reserve. He’s fighting the ticket, which is why he has a lawyer, Sharon Sherman, who has taken on the case pro bono. The first thing she had to do was push the date of the trial back from August 2013 to January 2014, because Mule follows the sun and the seasons, and escapes the summer heat in the north, and was far from San Diego at the time of the original trial date.

Recently, he had a rather nasty, run-in with the police in Gilroy, south of San Jose. He was arrested on August 30 while walking along the side of 101. The police wanted Mule to leave the road, but he insisted that there were no signs prohibiting him from being there. They arrested him for failing to follow the orders of a police officer, and Mule was taken to jail, and then transferred to a psychiatric facility, where he stayed locked up for six days. The animals were sent to a nearby animal shelter. Mule was released through the aid of a patients-rights advocate, who told a friend of Mule that it was the most bogus case she had ever seen. Mule will be going to court on September 12 to defend his plea of not guilty so that he can get back to wandering.

The filmmaker John McDonald met Mule the same way that I did — a happenstance bumping into him, and McDonald couldn’t contain his curiosity. After a few interactions, Mule agreed to let McDonald make a documentary about him, and to follow him around and collect footage.

While McDonald was at first interested in Mule as a documentary subject, after a few months of filming, he confessed to Mule, “I really believe a lot in what you’re doing. In spite of the documentary, I would probably want to support you and what you’re doing, and I respect you.”

Everyone has their own attraction to Mule. While I was interviewing him, roughly a dozen people stopped to say hi, wish him luck, or even give him gifts, like a man who gave Mule a length of high-quality nylon rope. “A cowboy can always use some rope,” the stranger said with a smile, and walked off. Mule is very popular amongst equestrians — while researching this article, I found out that a writer with Mules and More Magazine is also writing about Mule. He has support from advocates of multi-use trails that connect communities, trails like the Iron Horse Trail in Contra Costa County in San Francisco’s East Bay, a trail that allows people to safely get from town to town without using cars.

Mule’s lawyer, Sharon Sherman, took on his case because she is fascinated by the legal questions that Mule’s way of life raise. “There is always a balance between people’s freedoms, and the needs of a community,” she explained to me. “To me, this is another example of that. I’ve been in practice for 35 years, but Mule really made me stop and think about issues that I’ve never considered before. We have a countervailing balance between public space, private space, and what access do we really have to public space. Sure, I can walk down a street, but which street? What’s the difference in using a road in a car, than with mules? Why do you have more rights in a car, than if you are walking, and walking with animals?”

But what struck me most when I came across Mule along the Canal Trail, an offshoot of the Iron Horse Trail, wasn’t just the mules, or his simple, nomadic way of life. It was the large white lettering that was stenciled to the side of his packs, lettering that wrote out 3MULES.COM.

There is a man wandering through California with three mules, and a website.

When Mule first turned west from Ely, Nevada, he had his heart set on starting a website. “I needed a website so that when I got to California, I would have a voice,” Mule explained to me. “I don’t have the brain to deal with this technological stuff, but I knew that the website would be a voice. I’m nothing. I’m uneducated, I’m a weak little man, I’m the low man on the totem pole and I’ve been there my whole life. But a website would be my voice.”…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and to comment at the Atlantic