Jolly had outgrown her show pony, Candy. Although only twelve hands tall, her heart loomed over the large horses as she out performed most of them. Since Jolly had turned ten, and Candy was pregnant, the Thames family went to the stockyard horse sale to find her a new mount.
â€œMom, I want a mule. They can out jump any horse. Letâ€™s see if they have a decent one for sale?â€
â€œAre you sure? Your dad is talking to a man about buying that paint before he goes through the ring.â€
â€œI tried that horse, his feet were tender. Heâ€™d never make a jumper. I found the perfect mule, and her name is Ruby. Yâ€™all follow me to come see her, please.â€
Lee and Joe followed her to the last pen in the whole stockyard. There she stood with three-foot long ears, a bowed out muzzle and two of the darkest eyes ever seen on an equine. She was a good size for Jolly because she stood fourteen hands tall. A small mule but not a pony, Ruby presented a balanced look of size of mount to rider. Jolly tried her, and they were a fit. Ruby responded so well to the bit, and she easily walked, trotted, and cantered on command.
Being in the last pen, she didnâ€™t come through the sales ring until four oâ€™clock in the morning. Most people had bought what they wanted so Ruby only fetched three hundred dollars. Lee and Jolly easily loaded her into the trailer to take her back to the farm.
â€œShe is such a good mule, I wonder why that ole man sold her.â€
â€œMom, Iâ€™m going to pony club her and beat all those expensive horses.â€
Lee called the vet to come and update her on all of her shots. Thatâ€™s when we discovered why she had been sold. Sweet Ruby turned into a pistol Pete! We ended up having to hog tie her to give her shots. What should have taken only five minutes took a long full hour. Talk about stubborn, she was damned if anyone was going to poke a needle into her. She lost to the maze of ropes.
The big question, the day Jolly set up the practice jump course on the farm, was could she jump? Jolly took her over the cavaletti, and she didnâ€™t hit one pole. She placed ten poles to see if Ruby would watch where she was going and adjust to picking up her feet between a natural stride. Next, there was a low one foot jump, which Ruby cleared by two feet if not more. Jolly worked her up to four feet and Ruby never balked or missed a beat as she flew across them as nimble as a deer. Jolly worked her after school each evening.
Jolly was decked out in her black show outfit, and Rubyâ€™s mahogany coat gleamed in the spring sunlight. A girl came by on a thirty thousand dollar Thoroughbred, bragging about his cost and looked down at Ruby.
â€œYouâ€™re going to show that today?â€
â€œYep, and we are going to beat yâ€™all in stadium jumping.â€
â€œI seriously doubt that. Oâ€™Hara has been professionally trained.â€
â€œDonâ€™t matter. My mule will beat your horse.â€
Lee and Joe watched as Oâ€™Hara jumped an almost perfect round. He clipped one of the rails with his left hind hoof. Jolly was next.
â€œGood. That horse didnâ€™t jump a perfect round. The others have too slow of a time since they only trotted the course,â€ said Lee.
â€œRuby is fast and a clean jumper. If she makes a fast round, sheâ€™ll win,â€ Joe said.
Ruby jumped every jump and cleared a foot as she sailed effortlessly over each one. They never broke stride of a fast canter and cleared every single jump. Of course Ruby won and Oâ€™Hara came in second. Jolly believed in Ruby, and she proved that a mule can indeed out jump a horse.