I gotta tell this one. It’s an old story here in Burleson County, Texas, told to me by a good friend and cattle buyer/auctioneer Skelly Strong, Sr.
It seems that the Chance Farm down on the Brazos River near the town of Snook had a pair a beautiful gray mules. Now, this was the day of equines and wagons and mostly dirt roads. Not many cars and trucks were seen around here. These mules were a gorgeous matched pair, and they had only one fault – they were known to have run away with a wagon. So the owner put the word out that he’d take anything in trade for them. Finally this fella shows up, driving a grain wagon, empty, with a team of really ugly mismatched mules. The trade being made, he hitched the pair of grays to his rig. The owner of the farm said to him
“Now one last thing, be careful not to get them stirred up because they might run off.”
The new owner nodded and grinned back from the wagon seat, then set off down the one mile dirt lane to what was later to become Farm to Market Highway 50. Suddenly he stood up and slapped the driving lines on the mules’ back and squalled “Come UP, you sonsabitches!” and the race was on! They took off like thoroughbreds out of a starting gate! The wagon wheels were singing! They were slinging dirt as the big rig fishtailed and went up on two wheels as he cranked them into a right turn to head north, still racing at warp speed.
He crossed the road to Snook, then known as Jones Bridge Road, if I remember correctly, at a dead run. People who saw it from their work in the cotton fields gasped
“He’s trying to kill hisself!”
But they ran on, streaking northward.
They crossed the main highway at Cooks Point still galloping with him still standing in the front of the wagon. When the mules acted like they wanted to slow down, he’d slap the lines to them and shout
“Oh, no, you dirty hayburners. You wanted to run so RUN –yeeHAW!”
I’m told that observers near the bridge on Six-mile saw him yelling at them to gallop as they thundered across the bridge. And sometime later a sweat stained, panting, frazzled looking pair of mules clopped sedately into the town of Gause, approximately 30 miles from Chance farm. It is said that these gray mules never ran away again. In fact it was hard to get them into a decent trot!
That was long before my time, but I believe horsemen in those days understood psychology pretty well, what I call perverse psychology.