CARMEN, Idaho - Most equine enthusiasts show their horses or mules, but Lt. Col (ret) Rob Schwarz shows a donkey, RMS Mister Abraham, (Abe). Actually referred to as a Mammoth Spotted Jack, Abe is an entire donkey that will be used as a stud to produce other donkeys and mules.
Upon retiring from the U.S. Marines several months ago, Schwarz and his wife, Alicia, moved to Carmen, Idaho with plans of raising and training mules and donkeys. They arrived with several mules and horses and their jack, Elijah. Unfortunately their plans drastically changed when Elijah passed away during the winter. Determined to go on, the Schwarz's began searching for a new foundation jack for their Cougar Basin Mule Maker Ranch. In late March they checked out some jackstock at Rocky Mountain Songbirds in Ismay, Mont., and came home with Abe.
The Schwarz's previous plans were to show Elijah at the World Championship Mule Days Show in Bishop, California Memorial Weekend but would now be taking Abe. Celebrating their 43rd anniversary, Bishop Mule Days is the most prestigious show in the mule/donkey world. Schwarz entered Abe in the Mammoth Jack halter class which was judged mainly on the animal's conformation and movement. For a breeding animal, this is a very important class as it helps prospective clients determine if the jack's conformation is right for their mare. Considering this was the first time Schwarz showed Abe, the couple was ecstatic when he earned a fifth place ribbon putting him in about the middle of the class. Earning any ribbon at Bishop is a big accomplishment.
Less than two weeks after Bishop, the Schwarz's took Abe to the Montana Mule Days show in Hamilton, Mont., where the four-year old jack was a big hit with the judge. In the halter classes Abe won the Mammoth Jack class, then the Champion Jack and finally the Grand Champion Donkey. At this show there were four donkey height divisions: miniature, standard, large standard and mammoth and three gender divisions: jennets, geldings and jacks. To win the overall, Abe had to beat all the winners of each division.
Aside from being used for breeding, Schwarz has recently started trail riding Abe and they participated in the keyhole gymkhana speed event at Bishop and Montana Mule Days.