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September 21, 2007

First Newsletter Continued - Part 3

A few thoughts from Zach Zniewski (from Marathon, Texas) on Mammoth Jackstock. You can read an interview Zach gave at http://horsesinmexico.com/default.aspx,
scroll down to the "A Happy Family....the interview of the month.

I am real interested in the history of jack breeding in this country. Mules have changed so much in the last fifteen years or so, the old heavy draft types now being seen less, and light saddle type mules being much more popular.
I enjoy reading about the "old timers" who kept good jackstock during the years when the mule business was at its low point.
The jacks available to us modern folks, whose pedigrees can be traced back to the 19th century, are a national treasure. Every effort should be made to register jacks from these lines, to preserve the blood lines of these fine beasts.
I have in hand a Texas Almanac from 1955, more than a half century ago, and the mule statistics there in are interesting.
The book gives Texas mule population numbers from 1870 until 1955. There were only 81,000 in that earlier year, and with settlement and increased farming, the half million mark was reached in 1906. A million mules inhabited Texas by 1920, and 1926 was the peak year, with 1,240,000 in the state.
Ironically the mid-twenties were the years that tractors began to replace mules. A million of the animals were still at work in the state in 1932, but after that the numbers declined steadily. By 1955 only 68,000 mules lived in Texas, many superannuated beasts in the hands of nostalgic "old timers", or dirt farmers and sharecroppers too poverty stricken to tractor up.
Who were the breeders who hung on into the 1950s and 60s? Good jacks still were bought and sold, but by some estimates, the number of high quality pedigreed mammoth jacks in the entire US had gone down into the low hundreds.
The proud business calling, "Jack Breeder", had ceased to exist.
It is fortunate that a few dedicated preservationists during these years saved the old regristry, reviving it and saving old records.
We modern people can choose again from good lines of jack stock due to the efforts of these few.
With the revival of the mammoth jack business, we should all be aware of the importance of registration of our animals, thereby aiding in the effort to preserve and record the continuity of blood lines that in some cases predate the Civil War.

Posted by Tanya Tourjee at September 21, 2007 02:06 PM