The Mule Whisperer

Tommy Francois trimming Miss Lucy, a six-year-old mule. (Photo by Ruby Francois)

By Corsi Martin 

The cutting horse world has fallen hooves over ears for a uniquely gifted specimen not generally found at any cutting event. This creature has been cashing checks and cutting cows with the best of them, and it’s not even a horse and is hardly bigger than the cows in the herd.

Miss Lucy, a six-year-old mule, is taking the cutting horse world by storm and has remained consistent in her uncanny ability to perform with the best of them in the United States Cutting Horse Association. Owners, Tommy and Ruby Francois, bought Miss Lucy when she was a four-year-old from Francois’ brother in south Louisiana. The mule was originally bought with pleasure riding potential in mind. Lucy had just been broke and was great with people, but she had not yet become attuned with cattle. Standing at only 13.1 hands, cattle seemed to frighten Miss Lucy at first.

“Any time a cow would move, she’d run away,” Francois said. “Finally, she got the idea to go in the same direction as the cow. When she learned that, she kind of trained herself.” At first, having Lucy cut a cow was just horse play, literally. Francois had no initial intentions of transforming her into a competitor. The whole idea to compete came with time and lots of support from local cutters.

“When I saw how good she was going to be, I said ‘She’s going to be good enough to show,’” Francois said. “Everybody loves her; we have a good time at the cuttings.” This year, Miss Lucy has walked into the herd approximately 20 times. She recently scored a whopping 76 at a cutting in Sulphur Springs, Texas. For those who are not familiar with cutting horse scores and judging criteria, a 76 is well above average. Francois, who has been involved with cutting since 1969, says that Lucy is his second cutting mule.

To read more pick up a copy of the February 2018 NTFR issue. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.