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Mule and donkey set for today

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
June 7, 2003
As Juliet says in the classical play about star crossed lovers, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
It may not be the poetic lines from Shakespeare, but the mule and donkey competition that is part of the five events that kick off the State Games of Mississippi, along with sailing, martial arts, biathlon and fencing, this weekend has something in common with the words from Act II, Scene II of Romeo and Juliet, with a slight modification.
What's in a name? That which we a call a horse show by any other name would be as interesting to watch.
This is the mule and donkey competition.
While these four-legged creatures may not be seen running at Belmont, their owners will match their mastery of various skills at Lauderdale County Argir-Center at 9 a.m. today.
The insertion of similar animals into a classical horse show setting is unique event the Magnolia State's Olympic-style competition.
While the event will be very similar to a horse show, mule and donkey also adds its own twist.
One unique aspect of the event will be the driving competition.
In this part of the show, draft mules, which are a larger breed that are typically used for work detail, pull wagons through a series of predetermined drills.
Two mules are hitched to the wagon, and they perform stunts such as figure eights to show how well the animals respond to commands.
The stunts are also designed to show how well the animals work in tangent and that both mules are pulling their weight.
Along with good competition, the event will also be looking for some good weather.
With thunderstorms predicted for the weekend, the event organizers are thanking their lucky stars that they will be in a covered facility.
Rain or sunshine, the mule and donkey portion of the games will go off, and the focus of the event will not just be on the animals.
Because of its strong local flavor, this event in the State Games is not just about who walks away with a medal.