Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sometimes you just don't want to Sail the Ocean Blue

Can you guess what happened on this day in 1505? Three hints: 1) it illustrates the concept that politics never change, 2) it pertains to a radical mode of transportation, and 3) it involves both famous and royal figures. Still not sure? These visual hints may help:

If you recognized the 1949 Tennessee Mule Day King and Queen and Christopher Columbus, you're close to the answer. However, this may be a case where close isn't enough as our story takes a bizarre turn . . .

On February 23, 1505 King Ferdinand granted Columbus the much-coveted mule riding license. You may ask why a license was needed to ride a mule, and this is the 'politics as usual' part of our story. As mules were becoming a popular mode of transport, the Andalusian Horse dealers/breeders grew concerned. They lobbied for a law prohibiting the use of mules as saddle animals - and won. Columbus was able to convince the court that the jostling horses were too painful for someone suffering from old age and arthritis, and the license was awarded (apparently mules provide a smooth, gentle ride).

Columbus had a long appreciation for mules - many histories about his life include scenes of him riding a mule at pivotal moments. (Perhaps heading out on your mule made more of a statement then . . .) He even carried mules to Haiti in 1493. Today there are many fans of the lowly mule and mule festivals are held across the country. Just Google 'Mule Day' and you'll be surprised! Perhaps Columbus was right - I haven't heard of any Andalusian Days, have you?


  1. I haven't heard of Andalusian Days or Mule Days. I had no idea, but until recently I didn't know that there were 'show guinea pigs' either.

  2. The show guinea pigs are a new one for me as well. It just proves there's a hobby for everyone!


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