Did you know that mules can jump in a different way than horses? A mule is a cross between a female horse and a male donkey or “jack.” The donkey part of their bloodline gives them unique muscular characteristics that enable them to do a standing high jump.

Competitions are held to see which mule can jump the highest from a standing start. These competitions have a special name – Coon Jumping!

The idea for the competition began many years ago with coon (raccoon) hunters riding mules deep in the southern woods of the United States. During the hunt, there were often fences in the way of the chase. The riders would dismount and throw a blanket or jacket over the top wire, making it visible to the mule.

Standing on the opposite side, the rider urged the mule to jump from a standstill, thus avoiding a long walk to the nearest gate.

It was not long before people were trying to see whose mule jumped the highest!

Like all jumping contests, there are rules. A mule stands in front of a canvas curtain placed on a horizontal bar and jumps from a stand still. Mules must come to a complete stop for one second before attempting a jump, standing in a box that is either 10 feet by 12 feet or 10 feet by 10 feet, depending on the size of the mule.

**1. Calculate the perimeter of the 12′ x 10′ box.**

**2. Calculate the area of the 10′ x 10′ box. Be sure to include the correct units in your answer.**

Each mule is allowed two attempts to clear the jump. The handler cannot touch the animal but must encourage it over the bar with voice commands. After a successful round, the height is raised.

The 2009 Grand champion Pro Jump winner in Pea Ridge, Arkansas was Mike Call’s mule Radar with a jump of 60 inches.

**3. Calculate the height of Radar’s jump in feet.**

The record mule jump was set in 1989 by Don Sams and Sonny also in Pea Ridge. Sonny jumped 72 inches!

**4. What is the difference in height between Sonny’s record mule jump and Radar’s winning jump? Express your answer in feet. Show two ways you can calculate the answer.**

You wouldn’t know it but mule jumping competitions and expeditions are quite popular. The sport is widespread throughout the Southern United States and California. There are usually no less than 10 events scheduled across the country every weekend, year round!

**5. Assuming 10 events per weekend and an average of 4 weekends in a month, how many events are scheduled across the U.S. each month? **

**6. Approximately how many events would there be in a year?**

Three jumping events are held in the Pea Ridge competition. The Pro Jump and two divisions based on the mule’s size, under 51 inches and over 51 inches.

**7. How many hands high is a 51 inch mule? (1 hand = 4 inches)**

Radar also competed at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo where he set a new arena record during the annual coon jumpin’ contest. This time he jumped 5’8″!

**8. How high did Radar jump in inches?**

**9. How much higher would he have to jump to tie the record mule jump?**

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest standing jump onto a platform by a human was 4 ft 10 inches by Jonas Huusom of Denmark.

**10. What is the difference in height between the record for a mule and the record for a human?**

Watch Radar make the winning jump at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo!

What is Coon Jumping? Answers:

1. Calculate the perimeter of the 12′ x 10′ box.

Answer: 12′ + 10′ + 12′ + 10′ = 44′. The perimeter of the large-sized box is 44 feet.

OR (12 x 2) + (10 x 2) = 44

2. Calculate the area of the 10′ x 10′ box. Be sure to include the correct units in your answer.

Answer: 10 x 10 = 100. The area of the 10′ by 10′ box is 100 square feet.

3. Calculate the height of Radar’s jump in feet.

Answer: 60 ÷ 12 = 5. Radar jumped 5 feet.

4. What is the difference in height between Sonny’s record mule jump and Radar’s winning jump? Express your answer in feet. Show two ways you can calculate the answer.

Answer 1: 72 inches – 60 inches = 12 inches. 12 inches = 1 foot. The difference in height between the two jumps is 1 foot.

Answer 2: 72 ÷ 12 = 6. The record jump is 6 feet. 6 feet – 5 feet = 1 foot. The difference in height is 1 foot.

5. Assuming 10 events per weekend and an average of 4 weekends in a month, how many events are scheduled across the U.S. each month?

Answer: 10 x 4 = 40. An average of 40 events are scheduled across the U.S. each month.

6. Approximately how many events would there be in a year?

Answer: 40 x 12 = 480. Approximately four hundred and eighty events are scheduled each year.

7. How many hands high is a 51 inch mule? (1 hand = 4 inches)

Answer: 51 ÷ 4 = 14 R3. A mule that measures 51 inches is 14.3 hands high.

Calculating a horse’s – or mule’s – height in hands is covered in the Level 1 workbook.

8. How high did Radar jump in inches?

Answer: (5 x 12) + 8 = 60 + 8 = 68. Radar jumped 68 inches.

9. How much higher would he have to jump to tie the record mule jump?

Answer: 72 – 68 = 4. Radar would have to jump 4 inches higher.

10. What is the difference in height between the record for a mule and the record for a human?

Answer:

Step 1 – for human record, convert all units to inches: (4 x 12) + 10 = 48 + 10 = 58. The human record is 58 inches.

Step 2 – find the difference: 72 – 58 = 14. The difference in height between the record for a mule and the record for a human is 14 inches.

Common Core:

3.OA.C – Multiply and divide within 100.

4.OA.A.2 – Multiply a 2-digit number by a 2-digit number: word problems; Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division word problems

4.MD.A.1 – Compare and convert customary units of length

4.MD.A.3 – Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems.

5.MD.A – Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

Photos:

Bucky Wins It by Allen Gathman; CC BY-SA 2.0

Mule by Sogospelman; CC BY-SA 3.0

Bucky wins again by Allen Gathman; CC BY-SA 2.0

6-Coon Jumping by Tom Holmes; CC BY 3.0

DIDNT EVEN THINK ABOUT LOOKING MY DAD UP FOR JUMPING HIS MULE SONNY. MY COUSIN WAS TELLING ME ABOUT THIS TODAY. SO IM LOOKING AND SEE MY DAD*DON SAMS AND HIS JUMPING MULE *SONNY. PLEASE IF YOU COULD CORRECT THIS….HIS NAME IS DON SAMS NOT DON SAM. I DO SEEM TO REMEMBER MY DAD SAYING SOMEONE HAD SPELLED HIS LAST NAME WRONG YEARS AGO.

MY DAD JUST TURNED 79 THIS MARCH. HE IS LIVING HERE IN BARTLESVILLE,OK A FEW MILES AWAY FROM ME-HIS OLDEST DAUGHTER SHERI. I HELPED TRAIN HIS JUMPING MULES WITH HIM WHEN I WAS A KID. HE STILL TALLKS ABOUT IT TO THIS DAY. GUESS I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT HIM BEING FAMOUS.ANYWAY, THANK YOU. SHERI LAVASSEUR

Thank you so much for adding to the story Sheri. I made the change so that your Dad’s name is now spelled correctly. Hope he’s seen the post!

Here’s a brief video showing a jumping mule in training: https://www.facebook.com/Horseaddict/videos/904491876279348