North American Flags North American Saddle Mule Association




This is a tribute page to our long eared friends who have gone on to greener pastures

but will forever be in our hearts and fondly remembered by those who loved them.



Betty Robinson, former NASMA Director and Historian, lost her good friend on Monday.  Dr. Ruth, Betty's mule companion for twenty years, lost her battle with stomach cancer and was humanely euthanized. 

Betty's shares this tribute to Ruth.

I bought Ruth from Dave McMahen when she was ten. She and I enjoyed a wonderful twenty years together. Ruth was my first mule and I bought her after my friend Dave dared me to ride one of his on a Competitive Trail Ride. I was assigned to ride drag and had a fantastic experience. If you have never ridden a mule you can’t understand the difference between riding a mule and a horse. From that day forward I knew I wanted a mule and I pestered Dave until he sold me Dr. Ruth.

Prior to coming to me Ruth had already had three years experience in Competitive Trail Riding. She had won everything an individual could win except the Presidents Cup. She was ridden by a Texan, Renee Stevens and was one of the first mules to ever compete against horses at a CTR. The two racked up their share of trophies. When I bought Ruth I was pretty much through with competition and ready for some quiet every day trail riding.

Ruth taught me every “good” thing I ever learned about a mule. She knew I was a novice mule owner and had a great amount of patience with me. She was both reliable and loyal. Ruth was my friend of all friends. We could ride through the mountains, not even on a trail, and know exactly what the other one was thinking. She was a joker and loved to tease with me. She would tease the other mules too, by locking them out of the feed lot or locking them in the barn. When she knew I was ready to ride she would hide in a patch of cedars in the pasture where she thought I couldn’t see her. But she was always ready to go when the trailer rolled out.

Ruth loved apples and PB&J sandwiches. Back in the ‘90s Ruth was my mentor while I wrote both my first two books: Horse Trails in Arkansas and Horse Trails in Oklahoma . We camped out by ourselves many nights in strange country. We did a good job looking out for each other. She would wake me up if “anything”, even a strange dog, came near our camp. I would put her in the trailer whenever we had to camp in a storm. I always hauled more good hay and grain than she could eat. We would be dead tired driving home from a weekend of chasing trails in Oklahoma and still take time out to share peanut butter cookies and gator-aide at the rest areas.
Ruth was a willing partner and went anywhere I asked unless my suggestion was so totally dangerous she thought we were both going to get hurt. She only seriously refused me once. That’s a darn good average since I often asked her to do some pretty stupid things.

She lived to by thirty years of age which by most mule standards is young. But she was fighting stomach cancer and had been for over a year. I couldn’t be selfish enough to make her suffer any longer. To the very last day whenever I put a saddle on her she would get a bow in her back and try to make me think she was going to throw me over the fence. The mule never bucked in her whole life but she sure tried to make you think she would.

If you’re a rider and have never ridden a good mule, you haven’t lived yet. The really good ones don’t come along as often as some folks might think. Dr. Ruth was one of the best. The last thing I told her before I gave her a good bye kiss was, “Okay, so you are going on before me, it hurts but I’ll get by. Just remember, one day I’ll come looking for you and I expect you to be waiting at the gate.”


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