He told me, "Sometimes your choice is easy, but other times it feels like the hardest thing to do is say who stays and who goes."
All of the mules, like our horses, had different personalities and habits. After riding each one, working them with the cattle and taking them through some tough very rocky territory, he finally ended up keeping five of them.
The one that became his favorite, he named her Jackass Ginger. She had a nice way about her. She was very calm and did everything he wanted. She seem to know the saddle and not just a pulling harness.
She stood well, lifted her hooves good, and wasn't cinchy, excited, or tired. She was a very smart mule, and I remember grandpa saying she seem like a fast learner. And besides, she had pretty eyes.
Another he called Blackjack, because he was black. Yes, we weren't really one's to give our animals real creative name. We had an Appaloosa gelding that grandpa named White Ass because of the spots on his rump.
As for the sure footed mules, they walked through that country like there was nothing to it. And yes, my grandfather absolutely loved four out of the five mules. And being honest, so did I.
I can still remember how I felt so bad for grandpa. It was tough for me to let him look at me because I didn't want him to see the tears in my eyes.