Happy Trails

Animal science students win mule packing competition

Packing a mule requires skill. Doing it quickly, working with unfamiliar animals, competing in an arena against other collegians, and making sure no equipment falls off before your mule crosses the finish line—that challenge was met by four UC Davis animal science students who took a first-place win in the 2016 Intercollegiate Packing Competition. The packing competition was one of many contests held during Mule Days, an annual Memorial Day Weekend event in Bishop, California, which celebrates the legacy and abilities of mules.

Officials from the world of mule packing recently visited campus to award a trophy saddle to the UC Davis students who won the Mule Days packing contest against student teams from eight other colleges, including Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UCLA, Fresno State, and USC.


Students at the Horse Barn, part of the Department of Animal Science, formed the UC Davis packing team only three years ago. They receive support from veterinarian and UC Davis alumnus Craig London of the Rock Creek Pack Station and coaching assistance from Andy Assereto of the Backcountry Horsemen Association, Mother Lode Unit.

“I told them, ‘Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast,’” said Assereto, who visited the Horse Barn a couple of times during the year to provide the team tips on packing.

The members of the winning UC Davis Packing Team include Erica Falk, Madison Seeley, Kayla Wigney, and Katie Ott, all majoring in animal science and management.

“In the arena, the competition was so fierce, yet come dinnertime, all the competitors would come together and have a great time around the fire,” said senior Kayla Wigney. “We look forward to packing together or against each other in the future.” 

To view a little of the friendly competition found at mule day, click here

Media contact: 

Dan Sehnert, Animal Facilities Coordinator, 530-752-1256, djsehnert@ucdavis.edu

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