Coryell County is known as a great stock producing county. One of the largest shipments ever made of mules from Gatesville was consigned to the Army in 1898 for use in the Spanish-American War.
During the Civil War and Indian Wars men who did not have much experience with horses, (and maybe some that did) chose to walk instead of joining the cavalry and having to control a horse. You would think that everyone would rather have ridden than walked, but apparently not. When cars first came out, many men and women were happy to be able to ride in a vehicle that had plenty of horsepower, but no horse doing its own thinking.
In the museum are many photographs of horses and mules pulling every kind of wagon and buggy you can imagine. Mules are bred by breeding a horse with a donkey. Their colts are mules and are sterile and cannot breed. Some of the largest and most beautiful mules I have seen were half Clydesdale and half donkey. At the hip they were 5 feet tall, very well behaved and gentle.
George Wymer also writes about an interesting episode in Horseshoeing Days, About 1912 he shod the mules and horses for the ice company next door. The ice company ran several wagons with a team of horses or mules. One of the teams was little Spanish mules that were very athletic, smart, and lightening fast making them extremely hard to catch and harness. They were similar to trying to harness jackrabbits. The experienced ice wagon drivers were allowed to choose which team they drove according to their seniority. The newest man had to drive these little mules.
The owner of the ice company came over to George’s blacksmith shop one day and asked could the men stop cursing as they worked, as he had hired a young preacher who did not need to hear such language. He was asking his ice wagon drivers to also watch their language. Mr. Wymer agreed it would be a good idea.
The next morning when George came to work he heard some of the worst cursing he had ever heard. He went over to the pen where the ice wagon teams were kept and when the dust cleared a little, there was the young preacher trying to catch the little team of Spanish mules. He was doing some top of the line cursing turning the air blue with his foul language. The owner of the ice company came running out of the building to see who was breaking his “no cursing rule”, only to see that it was his young preacher! He was pretty embarrassed, and lifted his rule. George tells us that he can’t reveal the name of the preacher, because 30 years later he was still preaching out in west Texas. I bet he never had a team of little Spanish mules in his barn.
A lady that grew up near Cowhouse Creek about 1930 rode her horse, Old Dan, to school most days. She knew that when she got to the bridge her horse would not cross until she got off and led him. This would usually not be a problem, but he was tall and she had to find a stump to get back on him. When he was younger he had fallen thru a weak bridge with his front hooves and using his equine brain, knew not to cross unless the human went over first. Otherwise, he was a completely reliable method of transportation. I have had two beautiful horses, one delightfully reliable and the other completely reliable part-time.