Back in 1997, Chris
French and Kelli (Livengood) French met at the Hopkins Tractor Pull. From there
Chris fell in love with mules, even though at first he was real skeptical.
In May 1998, Kelli's
father, Jim Livengood, gave Chris a nice yearling mule named Skipper for high
school graduation. Skipper was the first mule Chris ever owned and trained.
Skipper was pretty easy to train. We used to joke that he was just born broke to
Chris rode him
everywhere and wasn't afraid to ask him to do anything. Not only did Skipper do
everything willingly, he always gave 100%. The first time Chris ever threw a
rope off of Skipper they won the Steer Doctoring at the IDMS show in Dennison,
IA. He, as the only mule, won Reserve Champion his first time to compete at an
Extreme Cowboy Race out of 19 horses. He was just an exceptional mule in every
Chris proposed to Kelli
by making her ride blindfolded and double with him on Skipper. Chris and Kelli
got married on their mules Skipper and Sapphire and rode out double on Skipper.
Skipper was a really big part of their lives.
took hundreds of people on trail rides, many of which had no idea how to ride.
Chris and Kelli have a mule training business and all the clients would ride
Skipper and watch Chris train their mule and then switch half way through the
In the past couple of
years Skipper was the best mule to many kids that visit and ride for the first
time in their lives. Chris and Kelli's nephew and niece, Cody (age 7) and
Jacquelyn (age 5) Cline have enjoyed showing
and riding Skipper and Sapphire. The kids come to visit and go out and catch the
mules and ride until they're told the mules are tired and need to go to bed
which is well after dark.
Skipper died at age 13 doing what he loved to do, trail riding.
Kelli thought just
before he started losing his balance what a nice ride he was.
The vet said he died of
an aortic aneurysm. He went pretty quickly and didn't have to suffer.
Skipper had a special
place in many hearts and will be greatly missed. Skipper started out as a gift
from Kelli's father and remains one of the best they'll ever receive.
Kelli Livengood French