by Lesley Scott
While sitting at the dinner table at Mount Vernon, a new idea came to our President.
Growing up, my employer, George Washington, I considered to be the best person in the world. Not only proud of him being called, “The Father of our Country,” I was proud of his bright ideas. He, pleasant, as well as interesting, and even had his down to earth attitude. With Washington, there is only right or only wrong. He fussed at me a few times when I was younger and learned my lesson. Now, I am the trainer and proud to work for my mentor.
My boss, a gentle and usually soft spoken man became popular for his personality and intelligence. Shouting he considered to be for ill-bred individuals. So why evening, did I hear him raise his voice coming from the old brick barn? Maybe the groom did something wrong. I had to find out and managed to slip out of the mahogany chair with no notice. The darkness of the night turned chilly, but I didn't feel the cold air.
Washington had visited Africa, noting how tough the mules worked in the mud and heat. He became most impressed by the mules working hard sliding huge logs in South America and not even breaking a sweat. Washington felt very excited to start breeding his own jacks, male donkeys for making superior breeding stock when bred to quality mules and quality donkeys or jennies. He convinced both countries to sell him their jacks and a few horses, well put together. His plan included improving the quality of the jacks, and the high standards of the mare, female horse, to produce the highest quality of mules.
A year later, Washington imported his donkeys from Africa's sands and South American jacks and planned breeding excellent mares with nice jacks. He would have the best stocks of jacks for perfect mares and also found high quality jennies to produce outstanding breeding stock. Soon after the arrival of his first jack, King of Malta, he decided to put him to work. His offspring became famous.
I awoke to sounds coming from the large breeding barn. I startled when I saw the situation with my own eyes. A nicely built jack stood quietly next to a mahogany colored thoroughbred mare. Why did everyone complain? I looked at Washington. He never wore a shirt that was not clean and pressed, or even mud on his well-shined boots. Now, it was his turn to talk loudly and dirty up his fine clothes.
The focus of the dispute, an enormous and expensive Spanish Jack he called, "The King of Malta" stood by quietly. He had waited a year for this outstanding jack. The mare stood calmly in the sturdy wooden breeding chute. The large jack showed interest and the mare showed no interest. “He’s ‘jenny stuck,’ is what he is,” mumbled the groom." If Washington heard, he chose not to care. It gave him a bright idea.
“Oliver?” he asked, “Do we still have that little pony?” I nodded and set off to fetch him. Washington asked one of the others to help find a very small pony stud. When both animals were in the barn, the jack stood next to the mare. The groom handled the tease pony, getting the mare ready for breeding. It was not long before all she was ready for the loudly braying jack. It worked!
They checked Mahogany in 21 days with the tease pony and she showed no romantic inclinations. Washington seemed unusually pleased with his idea that helped the Spanish Jack settle the mare. About 11 months later, the mare produced the most beautiful filly mule anyone had ever seen. She was the deep rich color of her mother with and white socks, and shorter versions of her father’s ears. Washington drew closer to his plan.
Farmers from throughout the Mid-Atlantic States and Africa, sent breeding stock to Mount Vernon. The demand for the services of the famous Spanish Jack, George Washington, sent Royal Gift, another jack, on a thousand mile tour of the Southern States and a few other countries. He covered about a hundred mares that were as gentle and large like the jack.
Henry Clay, along with Washington, had big plans for the American "Jackstock." They needed superior American Jacks to breed the finest mares. Henry Clay paid a visit to France to bring back a curly coated jack, a Poitou, much taller than any horse at that time. "Warrior" was six feet tall at the shoulder. It took Clay a lot of fancy horse-trading and Washington paid piles of money well spent. Finally, Washington and Clay shook hands. The bargain included the past owner would be able to breed Warrior's offspring once a year.
Soon after, he stepped on the dock, the newest jack, Warrior, had arrived in front of a large crowd. Washington told me, “This is history!” Indeed, it was important in American History. Here, all shaggy, with a curly coat, who would have known this large jack would be so important to the United States? Mixed with Poitou, Catalonian, Majorcan and a couple of other other fine donkeys, the end result was the largest and and friendly animal well known for his fine mules. Still, Warrior, the most important jack in the United States earned much publicity. All mammoth jackstock can boast the DNA of Henry Clay’s Warrior. They bear a curly and thick coat, but not like the Poitou dreadlocks of Warrior.
I became proud to be part of important history, and so terribly proud of my boss, because our President had the foresight and knew what very few others knew. At that moment, I told him, “You are now the Founder of American Jackstock! He patted my shoulder and told me, “I really needed your help and you came through for me ---as always." I’m proud of you, too, Oliver."
Washington did make his family proud. He kept the donkey and mule business thriving by only using superior mares to breed to his mammoth and other well-bred jacks. The results were superior mules. Mules out of Tennessee Walking Horse mares that had the “rocking chair” smooth gaits were very popular. When bred to a Belgian mare or draft horse, Washington's jack made flashy carriage mules. In fact, given the numbers of horses and jacks, the looks, builds, temperaments stemmed from a large and vast gene pool.
We owe it all to George Washington and his foresight. It is as true as what they said back then, “George Washington is the "Founder of American Jackstock.” He changed the attitudes of many people in American and in many parts of the globe. There are hundreds of donkey and mule societies, who all know about the history of American Jackstock. He is still famous for the ingenious decision to use huge and gentle Warrior, when bred, turned out other jennies and jacks with curly coats as more breeding stock. Washington's new breed of jack had the curly coat, but not the long dreadlocks as Warrior.
All Mammoth Jacks trace their ancestry to this unusual jack, Warrior. Washington's plantation still breeds mares and proutstanding animals. He is still known as The Father Of the American Mammoth Jack.