The clip-clop of hooves is often the first clue that a popular MU “team” is just around the corner. You may have seen these mules around campus, as guests at events or even out away from campus pulling a black and gold MU wagon in parades.
Meet Tim and Terry, the current MU College of Veterinary Medicine Mule Team, who have been pulling the wagon for nine years. These mules are the third team to pull the wagon for the vet school since the club was created in 1984, and this is the first male mule team the University has had. They live in a barn behind the vet school along with Hilda, a 36-year-old mule from the original mule team. Tim and Terry are 19 years old, and are half-brothers, sharing the same Mammoth Jack father. Their mother was a Belgian mare, a popular breed of horse used for breeding work mules.
Tim and Terry go to events all over the state, usually once a week during school, with one or two events on weekends. Their schedules are busier in the summer when they make an appearance in parades, serving as mascots for the vet school. They can often be spotted in these events in their hand-made studded harnesses, custom-made for each mule team, and their custom-built black and gold wagon that takes up about half of their trailer.
“Tim and Terry have been excellent ambassadors for our college,” said John Dodam, CVM Mule Club sponsor. “These are typical Missouri farm mules. They perhaps aren’t the prettiest mules in the world, but when it comes to what they do and how they do it, I don’t think there are any mules better.”
The CVM Mule Club relies on donations and volunteers. Any prize money is used for the care of the mules. The officers of the club rotate responsibility for the mules weekly.
“We’re a community outreach service, educating not only about proper husbandry and care, but also educating everyone about how to act around large animals like these, and we get to put a smile on their faces when they get a mule ride,” said Rachel Weber, president of the CVM Mule Club. “Most people are dazed when they see them.”
Joan Coates, vet school professor, had some experience with the first mule team, which was pulling the wagon when she was a student in the school. She recently went on a ride and reminisced.
“The ride is always an educational experience,” Coates said. “I always learn more about the University of Missouri whenever I do this. It’s pretty cool to ride in a wagon with a lot of history.”