Lady mule riders and Cowboy Church


o here we are again on a bright sunny day … for at least a couple of minutes. That's about all we can expect this week it seems — a minute or so of sunshine at a time.

When I left home yesterday to keep an appointment I was driving in the mist to get there only to come out an hour-and-a-half later in a pouring rain. Have you ever tried to manage a purse, a large and unwieldy package, a cane and an umbrella? It ain't easy. That line was Mortimer Snerd's answer to the question, "Mortimer, how can you be so stupid?" so I feel very at home with it. Maybe you are not old enough to remember Mortimer Snerd. Too bad for you, young folks, ask your dad and mom or go online. He's got to be there. Everything else is.


I went to the Harrison Mule Days show on Oct. 5. Can that be only a week-and-a-half ago? Just checked the calendar and, yep, so it is. If anyone reading this column was there I was the one sitting up on the hill by the road and hollering with glee when 15-year-old Madison Iager won the Head-to-Head Mule Race by a decided distance against full-grown men by beating them in several heats time after time.

Lady mule riders rule! Of course, it must be said that Madison is riding one heck of a mule. She also does dressage, hunter pace, cross country jumping, western pleasure and wins halter classes with that mule.


The mule, and I checked on this, is one-quarter Thoroughbred, one-quarter Quarter Horse and, of course, one-half donkey but it looks like a Thoroughbred with long ears and a thin tail if you come upon it unawares.

I also got to watch the junior age driving class and there again were two very young women driving stout pairs of mules to various equipage. They were clanking along (don't mean to insult anyone but wagons clank and they also creak and make other noises now frowned upon by automotive manufacturers) at a walk and a jog, turning and reversing. Say what you will, it is hard to sneak up on anyone driving a wagon. If you are one of those folks who get a bit misty over the "good old days" you need to be at the Harrison Mule Days next year.

The one thing that I missed on Sunday at the Mule Show was Cowboy Church and I was sorry to have missed it. The dog told me to get up around 6 a.m.but I went straight back to bed after that until around 8 a.m. which is late for me. Anyone who has a dog knows that when the dog speaks you listen or suffer consequences best left unmentioned. And somehow the dog appears not only unapologetic but even a bit self-righteous over those consequences. "Well, I said I needed to go out! I'm not the cat after all."

I have done a little research on Cowboy Church. There is a lot out there that is unconnected and little out there that is connected and some awfully nice folks who seem sincere.

This is an encapsulated version of what Cowboy Church is according to that ubiquitous expert, Wikipedia: "Cowboy churches are local Christian churches within the cowboy culture that are distinctively Western heritage in character. A typical cowboy church may meet in a rural setting in a barn, or old western building with a country gospel band. The sermons are usually short and simple. Many cowboy churches have existed throughout the western states for the past forty or fifty years, however just in the past fifteen or so years has there been an explosion of growth within the 'movement.' There has been no definitive group that established the movement; rather it seems to have had a spontaneous beginning in diverse areas of the country at nearly the same time. Some of these cowboy churches are an outgrowth of ministries to professional rodeo or team roping events, while the roots of many can be traced back to ministry events associated with ranch rodeos, ranch horse competitions and other 'cowboy culture' events."

This Cowboy Church is led by Joel Nupp, a well-regarded horse dentist, who has heard the call to speak on behalf of the Lord and it will be held at the Lady Long Ears Ranch Arena at 7523 John Pickett Rd. in Woodbine at 6 p.m. on Nov. 2.

It will be a very informal gathering with a sermon and afterwards a bring-a-dish supper. The ranch will offer drinks and plates, napkins, and plastic-ware and the attendees should bring the rest. I am really hoping to go … this sounds like my kind of an evening.

Hope Holland is the Times' equestrian writer. Her column appears every Sunday. Reach her at 410-857-7896 or