The gentle whinny of horses was drowned out by loud mule braying and the voices of owners and riders giving commands of “step up” and “hee” and “haw” as they directed their mules — and a few donkeys — on Sunday at the Bear Valley Springs annual Mule, Donkey and Horse Show.
Held over three days at the BVS Equestrian Center, the Mule and Donkey portion of the competition is known as the second-largest gathering in the state for these kinds of events and is outdone only by Mule Days in Bishop. The Bear Valley Springs Pony Club hosts the show, which is sanctioned by the American Mule Association, and as such draws competitors from many nearby states who trailer in and camp on site for the weekend.
Friday and Saturday had limited mule and donkey events, but on Sunday starting at 8 a.m., they were in full view with many competitions unique to their breed and abilities. In addition to Halter and Reining competitions, there were Driving competitions, and working ranch competitions such as Log Skidding.
In another arena area, Mule Packing competitions were held and judged for proper weight distribution and tying methods. In the Trail Class events, a fully loaded pack mule led by a rider, on his own animal, had to navigate a trail course laid out with obstacles. One example was a simulated bridge where the animals had to cross over the planking. Every event was graded and watched over by judges specifically trained in each event.