A female mule (also known as a molly) was recently the winner of a global competition from Scoot Boots, an Australian brand of protective hoof boots designed exclusively to protect unshod equines. The Scoot Boot ‘I Love My Mule’ competition attracted hundreds of entries from all over the world including from Australia, Canada, US, Europe and the South Americas. The winner this year was a Manitoba mule named Lark.

Lark’s owner, Corrine Nykorak, who is a co-director of Blackbird Ranch Equine Rescue and Rehab,  penned the winning entry:

A mule beside a train.Lark, our mule, was saved at auction a number of years ago where she was dumped with another mule. She was purchased by a great person who realized she wasn’t going to fit in where she was. So she contacted us (Blackbird Ranch Equine Rescue and Rehab). We couldn’t say no.

When she first came to us, she didn’t want to have anything to do with us, so we let her be for about a year. Once we started working with her we realized she was broke to ride! We’ve taken her to our provincial parks and we also do train hold-ups with her (we also run The Prairie Gunslingers, we do train robberies with The Prairie Dog Central, an old steam train) and raise money for Breast Cancer. Last year we raised over $14,000 for breast cancer. Everyone loves our mule! Especially the porter shown in this picture. As soon as she hears his voice she runs over to him!

Scoot Boot co-founder and chief executive officer Annette Kaitinis said Lark was a worthy recipient of two free pairs of personally-fitted Scoot Boot hoof boots. “With this competition we wanted to reinforce that Scoot Boot designs protective and performance hoof boots for all equines large and small, including mules,” Kaitinis said. “We’ve just released larger sizes of our Scoot Boot Enduro hoof boots which are a great fit for mules who tend to have tougher hooves than horses, but do need protection, especially if they are traversing over rough, challenging, rocky terrain.”

Coreen Bradley, a barefoot trimmer and owner of Equine Synergy in Manitoba, agrees. “The boots protect the sole and hoof wall for horses that work long hours, and put on miles on harsh terrain,” she says. “They are wonderful for horses needing rehabilitation for various reasons, with thin soles being one example; the use can encourage growth while protecting the foot.” She adds that the boots allow room for growth between trims since they are designed with open areas around the toes and quarters.

Bradley, who is an authorized dealer for Scoot Boots, will be fitting Lark with her new sets of boots. And while Bradley doesn’t trim the herd at Blackbird, she has known Corrine and the organization for years. “They have always promoted barefoot trims for their rescues.”

As for those great train robbery reenactments, the group that Lark and Corrine belong to, the Prairie Gunslingers, hold different events throughout the year to raise funds for breast cancer. The train robbery reenactment genre is a popular tourist activity across the country, and one that involves cowboys and cowgirls galloping alongside the train to stage a robbery, much to the delight of paying passengers.

In British Columbia there is the Great Train Robbery & BBQ put on by Kettle Valley Rail. In Saskatchewan there is the Afternoon Robbery Train Ride hosted by the Southern Prairie Railway, with all proceeds going to STARS Ambulance and Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan. A slew of other train robbery reenactment organizations can also be found throughout the United States.

The appeal for many participants and for the paying public lies in the chance to ride on a historic train, and the thrill of being held up by a gang of mounted robbers. It’s all a chance to imagine what it may have felt like to earlier travelers who traversed the legendary wild west. And for Lark and Corrine, it’s a fun way to give back.