Founded in 1976
Bishop Mule Days had been going on for several years. Since mules were becoming popular once again, there was a need for organization and rules. Several meetings were held that winter between Pat and Karen Parelli and Ray and Jackie Winters culminating with one meeting where every known mule person in the San Joaquin Valley was invited. There was a big turnout of probably 100 people. It was definitely decided to “do it” and the first officers were elected. Pat Parelli was elected as the first President, LaVerne Ordway as Secretary, Ray Winters as Vice President and Jack Winters as Treasurer. Membership during that first year was 135 muleskinners!
At the time, goals of the organization were to set some rules, organize the mule community and proceed with more mule shows. All this for enjoyment and to enhance the reputation of the mule. A primary objective of the American Mule Association was, and still is, to dispel the mules’ reputation as the brunt of jokes and to advertise mules as the useful and talented animals that they truly are. In 2005, the AMA is still working toward the goals first set by the founding members.
Roxy McIntosh was appointed chairman of the Performance Rules Committee. A meeting of the Directors was called at Pat Parelli’s. Roxy presented the results of her research. She had gone through the American Horse Show rulebook, Quarter Horse rulebook, as well as several other organizational rulebooks. At that meeting, the Board of Directors decided on the nucleus of the rules that are presently in use. Al Dodds and Bill Shaver wrote the racing rules while Dave Wilson, Tokie Elliot and a group of professional packers wrote the packing rules. By adopting rules from other associations (with their permission), exhibitors have realized a general consistency with their show rules. For clarity and flexibilty needed in a growing organization representing an ever-increasingly versatile animal, the rules have changed through the years. In 1998, the AMA printed a newly updated, 106-page rulebook.
In April, 1976, the first AMA approved mule show was organized by Pat Parelli in Clovis, California. That year saw two other shows. For the next two years, there were three more Clovis mule shows. There are presently fifteen approved divisions plus a section set up for green mules with less show experience. Show divisions include Packing, Halter, Coon Jumping, Driving, English, Team Racing, Gymkhana, Donkey Performance, Western Performance, Roping and Penning. There are also classes geared to youth and amateurs.
Relationships With Other Organizations
The AMA currently enjoys friendly working relationships with other mule and donkey organizations, registries and publications. The AMA is acutely aware of opportunities to promote the mule through articles in many of the leading equine publications. Not only does the AMA offer memberships, show approvals, Mule, Jack and Jennet registries and a point system for year-end awards, it also offers a monthly newsletter called “MULES”.