Don’t bother telling Bethany Edler of Iberia Parish that mules are ornery, stubborn and kick hard. She’s heard it all before – and she can prove you wrong.
The 18-year-old convinced judges at the state 4-H and FFA Horse Show in West Monroe in July that she knows what she’s talking about, winning first place in the Premier Exhibitor competition with her mule, Alabama.
The Gerry Lane Premier Exhibitor category is not based solely on a student’s skill in the saddle. In addition to demonstrating their abilities with their animals, competitors are judged in interviews, tests of their knowledge and public speaking.
“This year I thought I hadn’t done well. I couldn’t even bring myself to go to the banquet,” said Edler, who had placed third in the competition last year.
Dressed in a grubby T-shirt and jeans, she was working with Alabama in the show ring while the banquet was being held next door. When she heard her name announced as a finalist, she hurried over to the banquet room.
“As soon as I came around the corner I heard that I had won,” Edler said.
In addition to a whopper of a belt buckle, she won a $1,000 savings bond.
But Edler’s abilities go far beyond her equestrian skills. She graduated this year from New Iberia Senior High School with a 3.9 average and will start LSU this fall as a pre-veterinary major. Bethany said as a vet, she would like to return to the area to treat large and small animals.
Alabama was the hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a thoroughbred mare.
More than 600 young people competed in the 38th annual state horse show.
(This article was published in the summer 2007 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)