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Cucumber Mule using his mule sense in Arizona



Dr. Jim

I have got to share this day with  you. My 64th birthday was last Wednesday. Also decided it was Cucumbers 6th birthday. My friend Dawn and I loaded our animals and went to a state conservation area called Spur Cross Ranch. Had never been there before, it was beautiful mountains, canyons, and creeks.

 Unfortunately we didn't discover the creek until well into the ride. Dawn's mare is terrified of water. Had no idea about CuCumber as hadn't had the opportunity to test him. Needless to say that mule never hesitated crossing, the mare . . Not so much. Without a second thought I took the mares reins and drug her across, not without incident. This mare is big, heavy, towering over the mule. She jumped the water slamming into CuCumber.  He quickly recovered.  We continued to another crossing. We crossed, Dawn fought her horse who charged across running wildly without a rider past us. CuCumber stood his ground on a loose rein, then we caught her. Again on our way and guess what...yup you guessed it another crossing. This one was 15 ft wide and a couple ft deep.

We fought that mare and finally had enough. Got behind her and was "urging" her with a rope across the butt. Had never swung a rope off the mule let alone keeping mule blocking her escape. CuCumber decided he'd had enough and took a chunk out of her. Needless to say she crossed. Told him he was awesome and offered him a cookie.

On the way back through a narrow canyon trail came to a solid rock ledge, 3.5ft tall. CuCumber hesitated all of 2 seconds and just hopped up with me on him. Turned out we had to hop down because the horse couldn't make it.

Fast forward to trailer ride home. Stopped to get diesel. Had to wiggle in cause everyone and their pet duck was there. Got our fuel, CuCumber had his head all the way out of drop down window of slant load trailer. Had to squeeze my way out getting very close to brand new, dark blue SUV with tinted windows. About two thirds the way past I looked in rear view mirror,  OMG CuCumber was dragging his tongue along the SUV. Then we came even to the passenger window, which was down, with a poor unsuspecting woman sitting and reading. She looked up into the nose of this "thing" and freaked. She was so terrified and trying to get away she forgot she was seat belted in.

 I'm sorry, I know this is terrible but I couldn't keep from laughing, and laughing, and crying.  CuCumber is a constant source of entertainment and understanding. Sometimes I forget he's just a kid. Wish I had photos, I think even you would be impressed with this guy. I love that mule. Oh yeah, now when come to creek crossing, he stops, turns his head hoping he'll get a cookie, because after all he did once. Thanks again. Tell everyone hi. Have not given up on Maybelle. 



Hi Linda,

What a great adventure.  We all got a good laugh out of the many happenings.  Your Cucumber mule guy has a great personality and real mule sense that keeps both him and you safe.

To me it sounds seriously like your friend riding that short-eared mare needs to get into long eared mules.  Life is just to short to put up with that danger and yes, stupid behavior.  The Cucumber did good!

We are really glad that Cucumber is under your saddle and in your experienced hands.  You two make a great riding team.

Happy Safe Trails,



Dr. Jim

Again you gave me too much credit. I look good cause I'm smart enough to get awesome mules. Believe me when I say I wish she rode mules but it won't happen for many reasons.

Before I forget again how are you feeling. Did anything I suggested help?

Also our ole mule man Bobby Jack Hatfield has been in the hospital for breathing issues. I showed him the pics of Maybelle. He really liked her. All he could keep repeating was "she sure is a "GOOD LOOKING" mule.


Ms. Linda, 

 Mike and I disagree with “too much credit” concerning your riding skills.  With all of the success you experience with different awesome mules it takes an accomplished rider on a good mule to cover the rough terrain and trail challenges you ride on a regular basis.  

 A good mule rider is a good mule rider is a good mule rider. 

 I am feeling much better and your suggestions helped. 

 Give Mr. Bobby Jack our greetings. 


At Rancho Santiago 





Latana Jan and her Diamond LiL mule




Greetings Dr. Jim!

 Last I heard from you, there were some serious health issues in your family.  Someone just asked me where I got my mule because they want one just like her, so I went to your website.  VERY glad to see that you're back in business!!!!

 My mule, now called Diamond Lil, or "Lilly", will be 13 this spring.  From what everyone says, this is a perfect age for a mule but honestly, I can't imagine her being any MORE perfect!!  I just did a gymkhana with her, hosted by my local mule and donkey club....first time doing ANYTHING like that for not only Lilly, but for ME!!!  I was smart....didn't do any "games" where the arena had other animals in it.  Lilly is afraid of chaos....she doesn't bolt, she just tries to duck out of the way.  Can't blame her.  Anyway, we did 4 events and got 3 ribbons!!!  But the best part?  EVERYONE there, horse riders and mule riders, just kept going on and on about how stunning and elegant Lilly is!!!




 I do lots of trips with her...she's SO easy to deal with!  She's superb about loading in ANY trailer, even a big stock trailer with horses in it!  She is sociable....I can turn her in with horses she's never met, and there is no drama.  She just quietly walks away when approached!



We've had 3 negative experiences since I bought her in 2009.  If I was YOUNGER, the outcomes would have been different I think!  Well, actually one was an equipment failure on a saddle one year old.  Anyway, from all the stuff I read on mule groups, Lilly is a rare one in that she's dependable, rugged, eager to please, and extremely affectionate...TO ME.  She's kind of a "one woman mule", which is fine.  

 Hope all goes well with all of you at Rancho Santiago.  Molly Bryan says hi!  Imagine my surprise, way out here in NM, to know that she knows you!!

Lilly showing off her SPECTACULAR coat!  She only gets grass hay, NO supplements....but she has the most glossy and SOFT coat I've ever seen or felt.  Of course, her WINTER coat is another story.  Still soft, but here where there is no humidity she's one giant DUSTBALL!  I clip her neck and head....and by the way?  She LOVES the clippers, no joke!  Her head goes down, her eyes close....she just zones out with the attention









Warm regards,

Latana Jan B

Northern New Mexico 

Lilly at the gymkhana:






Cucumber Mule exceptional mule!

















Wonderful sharing…. thank you so much for telling us about your adventures with The "CuCumber"... what a talented character.... you two make a great team. 

 Happy Safe Trails, 



Took Mr. CuCumber camping last weekend. First time out for almost 3 mos. We had a small discussion about who was driving but all in all it was a great trip. We camp at a camp ground that is designed for equine riders only. A mule always seems to capture attention no matter where he goes. CuCumber being the ham that he is draws a crowd. We walked our animals to water 4-5 times per day. On the way were some logs, 3 ft retaining walls and embankments. As we were leading them along on long leads, I would point to one of those and say "CuCumber get up there". Well he'd just hop up on the ledge and continue walking with me. I'd tell to get down, or get over and he would just do it. No hesitation. One little girl in the camp ground wanted to know what kind of a horse he was and did he know any other tricks. I told her he gave kisses so she asked him for one, he looked at her for a second then reached over her head and kissed me instead. We had a good laugh over that, I told her I guess his momma taught him not to kiss strangers. I think this mule missed his calling. He should be in a circus. I need to learn more tricks so I can keep up with the clown. Hope all is well. Take care.




Welcome home and back in the saddle Colonel Craig















 June 2, 2014

Hi Craig,

I thought of you several times in the last week and was wondering why we had not heard from you.  We were relieved to hear that you had been overseas for 2.5 years and you are back home & doing well. 

Willie is an amazing fine mule. We are glad he is under your saddle and in your care.  

We so enjoyed our visits and challenging ride in the steep canyons.

We look forward to the new pictures and getting together again. 

Laugh and be well.

Your friends, 

 Jim Gamble 

Mike Dillard




Dr. Jim,

Gotta tell you that Willie is doing great. (Bought him from you in late

2008.)  I was overseas for 2.5 years and a little worried about getting

back on him. After some ground work, saddling, and walking him around,

mounted up in a corral and got the "dust" off his discipline.  Road him out

and he is back to the Willie I bought.  His training is solid and I hope to

get him into the jumping a log obstacle in the next week or so. You do

great work with your mules.  The interest in him is great here in PA.  Few

people ride mules here but those that do are hooked.  Hope our paths cross

again in the near future and also hope you and Mike are doing great.

Would love to ride those canyons again with you and Mike.

Be well, Craig

Will send you new pictures soon.



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