Stories From The Farm - Pasture Pals
Historical Relatives - Loretta and Emmylou
Mules are amazing creatures. Half horse, half donkey, and they inherit the best traits of both. Our girls, Loretta and Emmylou, are a cross between an American Mammoth Jack and a Belgian draft horse.
The first mule breeder in the country was none other than our first President, George Washington. In the 18th century, American donkeys were a bit on the scrawny side. So in 1785, as a gift to George Washington, the King of Spain Charles III sent a breeding donkey named Royal Gift, described as "a fine Creature, just fifty Eight Inches high, & the largest that I believe ever came into this Country." Link The following year, Marquis de Lafayette, a French noble who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, sent George Washington another donkey named Knight of Malta, described as "about Fourteen Hands high, most beautifully formed, for an Ass, and extremely light, active and sprightly; comparatively speaking resembling a fine Courser." along with two "very fine" female donkeys from Malta "to establish a valuable breed of these animals in this Country." Link
It was through George Washington's breeding program of these imported donkeys that the American Mammoth Jack donkey was born. So it is entirely possible some distant relative (on the donkey side of the family) of Loretta and Emmylou was a resident of Mount Vernon. We were wondering why they were so enthused about last President's day.