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How I got where I am Rhonda & string

Rhonda Zinkel
aka MuleSkinninMama

I have been intrigued with horses for as long as I can remember, starting from my first memories as a young child. I worked after school jobs and earned the money to buy my first horse. I had to find a place to keep my horse and earn the money to pay for her feed and needs. My love of them has only increased over the years of my life. I became interested in mules from the first time I ever rode one when I was around 12 years old, although I didn't get my first mule (Shadow) until I was well into my adult years. I've had numerous horses since my first one, and as I raised my two children I got ponies and horses for them also, and I also started packing during that time. After finally getting my first mule, however, my packing life started changing dramatically.

I soon discovered that you can't have just one mule! After I began riding Shadow, I soon got my own Jack and started breeding my mares for mule foals. I also started buying more mares to breed for mules. I discovered that raising mule foals was one of the most fulfilling things I'd ever done. I moved up to Siskiyou County where I was able to do a lot more packing on a regular basis. Packing became the love of my life. As I did more and more packing I also began getting the machines and tools, and gaining the knowledge, to build more and more of my own gear. I have been able to build gear which works well for me in my packing, and over the years I've fine-tuned many of the items which I build to work better and make packing easier for myself and others. This gradually turned into a business with which I earned my living.

packing bridge lumber After many years of breeding mules,I came to the difficult decision to give up mule breeding. Packing season and mule breeding and foaling season all happen during the same time of the year. That, along with earning my living building pack, riding and camping gear, took up so much of my time that I didn't have enough time to do everything.

Running my gear building and leather working business still takes up a lot of my time, but I love what I do which makes it all worthwhile. I'm also able to do a lot of packing and riding in the summer seasons and have enjoyed doing some packing work for the Forest Service, which is always enjoyable. I was offered a Wilderness Packing Permit, which I was looking forward to doing, however I discovered that the required Guide Insurance is so costly that it made that dream unrealistic. So, my packing is still done as a hobby with friends, and friends of friends. It's a wonderful life!


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