At the Fort Worth Rodeo yesterday, Radar, a 23-year old Missouri Mule set a new record in the Coon Jumping competition clearing 5’8″.
Now, most of us on the East Coast have probably never come across a coon jumping competition. As it’s name implies, the coon jumping class is named after the practice of jumping mules over fences when hunting racoons with dogs. During the hunt, which takes place at night with dogs and flashlights, the hunters would encounter fences — often made from barbed wire. The riders would dismount, drape a blanket or jacket over the fence and then have the mule jump in hand from a standstill.
It turns out that mules are darned good at jumping from a standstill. Radar jumped 5’8 this week, but the Pea Ridge Pro jump record, set in 1989 by Don Sam and Sammy, is 72″.
In competition, the classes are divided by the mule’s size and often by its gender. The mule must come to a complete stop within the 10-ft box drawn in front of the jump. The handler can put a blanket over the jump if he prefers. The mule must stay within the box and and jump flat footed. The handler cannot touch the mule — he or she can only use voice commands as encouragement. The mule has 90 seconds to jump and it must pause before the jump (no running starts). The mule must also always be on a lead rope.
Donkeys and mules can jump from a standstill, while horses find it more challenging.