January Hitch Feature of the Month: Overmyer Dapple Grey Percheron Draft Mule Hitch

Overmyer Hitch

The Overmyer family Draft Mule Hitch was established in 1996, purchasing a “VERY OLD” pair of Percheron crossed Bay colored Draft Mules named “HIPPO and UGLY” from great friends from Stevensville MT.  Hippo and Ugly fit their names very well, but was absolutely bomb proof and exactly a perfect fit for the greenhorns staring their new adventure.

After attending the North Idaho Draft horse and mule show prior to 1999 with Michelle’s Late Grandpa and having him reminisce about all the days of driving draft horses and mules, Jon and Michelle knew this was an adventure/dream they wanted to fulfill and take on as a family.  Michelle shared their dream with her grandpa and his reply with a grin on his face was “Why would you want to own DRAFT MULES, all they are, is work”. Michelle, replying “Oh Grandpa” with a giggle.

Being Jon and Michelle have always owned saddle and pack mules; obviously they gravitated to the Draft Mules.  Knowing that mule people in general are very friendly, Jon and Michelle set out to get to know several of the Draft Mule Teamsters in the area  and learn all they could about owning and driving draft mules. Soon Jon, Michelle and kids (Son Chad 8yrs old / Daughter Jonelle 6 yrs old) were invited into the world of driving draft mules by helping several Draft Mule Teamsters at the shows, being invited to their farms/ranches to learn to handle, harness, and hook and drive draft mules.  One of the Overmyer Families most memorable times was spending Thanksgiving at Boone and Jerrian Jones in Stevensville MT with both families sharing the fun and art of driving draft mules.

Boone Jones called Jon one day and said “Hey I found the perfect Team for you”  YEP – Just down the road at Jim and Marilynn Stromberg’s, was the perfect Team “Hippo and Ugly”  Michelle took one look and thought “OH MY”, the Mules sure did fit their names and thought each one had one foot  in the grave. Everyone in the Bitterroot valley new or had owned Hippo and Ugly at one time or another. The Overmyer Family purchased the team and harness for $2500.  Overmyers loaded up their prize purchase and with big smiles headed home to become teamsters and start their new adventure with draft mules. Grandpa was for sure watching from above with a grin!   

After a couple years of Showing at the NIDHM show, having fun but wanting to do better.  The Overmyer family inquired from fellow Draft Mule friends, how they could improve to be in the winning circle.  If any of you ever have had the honor to know Mark Schmidt from whitefish MT, he is the most gracious, but outspoken person and only speaks the truth:  Mark looked Jon write in the eyes, with one hand on Jon’s shoulder and said “Sell Hippo and Ugly, Get a Team that is show quality”. After swallowing their pride, soon realized Mark was write and started the hunt for a new team, but wanted something unique, not the normal sorrel Belgian mule that everyone had.  Overmyers wanted to be different and unique so in putting the word out, looking for a new “Show Quality” Team of Draft Mules. Our good friends Dan and Terry Seymour found a team of mules on the internet for sale, called up and said take a look, I think you will like: When we pulled up the Team of Greys on the internet, our  mouths dropped open, and got so excited, YES!, this is exactly what we were looking for. Did not even know Draft mules could be Dapple Grey, WOW were they beautiful!, but the mules where in Columbus Indiana. Determined to fulfill their dream, Overmyers started the long process of inquiring, questions, videos, negotiations, vet checks, purchasing not 2 but 4 Dapple Grey Percheron Draft Mules in January 2003. Overmyers along with friends Jerry and Mary Guhlke, headed to Columbus Indiana for a vacation to bring home 4 show quality mules.  5,280 miles round trip, with lots of laughs, red licorice, 500 miles per day, slick roads and one of the worst winters and snow storms, Overmyers and friends made it home safely with “Tom, Bill, Bob, and Jerry”, Whom are still driven currently in the hitch today. Friends and Family welcomed them home, to help start their new adventure with “SHOW QUALITY” Percheron Dapple Grey Mules. Working the mules all winter long, Bob and Jerry were only 2 and 3 years old, solid black and preyed they would turn Dapple Grey as they aged. We had lots of work to do over the winter to get them show ready.  Tom and Bill were well seasoned and ready to go.

Heading to the first show in the spring of 2003, with mules and gear loaded in a older diesel pickup and 28” stock trailer, followed by another older pickup with bumper pull camper and tent.  Pulled in with such pride to show off the new hitch of Dapple Grey Percheron Mules, The only Dapple Grey Draft Mule Show hitch in the US and yes they were unique. All of Overmyers draft mule friends gathered around to take a look at the new mules they had all heard about.  With no hesitation, well renowned draft mule teamster “Mark Schmidt”, walked up and said “wow” they are beautiful but that one is a DINK! Pointing at Jerry the 2 year old. Michelle looked right at Mark with a smile and said he is only 2, give him a chance. Determined to show Mark he was not a DINK , Jerry grew up to be one of the biggest and most honest mules  Overmyers still drive today, Jerry and Bob are the anchor to the hitch, Jerry is no longer the DINK:

The bug had obviously bit the Overmyers big, they went out and bought 2 more mules to have a 6 up, and so this meant another road trip to Kentucky this time and came home with 2 more Dapple Grey Percheron Draft Mules.  Overmyers close friends from Sandpoint Idaho, Dick Blakely, Stephanie Lippert and family all pitched in to help us hitch, drive and show. Well needless to say the bug bit them and they decided they would like to buy draft mules as well.  Wanting to help Jon fulfill his dream of driving a 8-up hitch, Steffani and Dick purchased Dapple Grey Percheron Draft mules as well. Everyone’s dreams were in full swing and having the adventure of a life time. Currently today both hitches are still showing together and living the dream.  

Over the next couple years, Overmyers sold and purchased more grey Percheron draft mules with the help from Jon’s partner in crime Stan Riebold.  Stan and Jon are quite the pair to recon with, a true bond of brotherhood is between these two men and their families. All brought together because of some crazy adventure in driving draft animals.  Stan owning and driving Percheron Draft Horses of his own, has proven to be a great asset to the success of the Overmyer hitch. It’s a secret, but Overmyers are pretty sure Stan enjoys driving the mules; he’s always got a big smile on his face when driving the mule hitch.  Stan and Kay Riebold and Gary and Judy Uhrich have been an intricate part and blessing of the Overmyer Mule Hitch for the last several years. Being able to continue showing and pleasure driving depends on a volunteer hitch crew and Overmyers are positive they have one of the best hitch crews around.   The Overmyer hitch crew is truly a family.

Overmyers currently have 8 head but have had up to 10 head to make up the only 8-up Dapple Grey Percheron Draft mule show hitch in the United States.  Over the last 20 plus years, Overmyers have traveled and performed at many shows, plowings, rodeos, parades, community events, weddings, funerals and family functions.  Most honored event was pulling the Pendleton Roundup Stage coach, celebrating the Pendleton Roundups 100th anniversary, through the Portland Rose Parade.  Attending the NIDHM Show for 23 years has been very rewarding as well.   

Over time with grey horses or mules, they all turn white in which most of Overmyer Mules have done.  Finding the Dapple Grey Percheron Draft mule is becoming more difficult, so until new ones are purchased the honest old boys, TOM, BILL, BOB and Jerry are still showing at 20 to 25 years old.  

The Overmyer Families biggest pride and joy is seeing their own children Chad and Jonelle, family lifetime friends daughter Nicole Wolfe (whom is a cancer survivor) and other draft hitch families children be so successful with the gentle giants.  Chad and Jonelle Overmyer and Nicole Wolfe all started riding horses from birth, but did not start driving draft mules until age 6 and 8. The success each one of these kids had along the way were amazing and leaving all of us so very proud.

Son Chad Overmyer is a natural at handling the Draft Mules, Even though his love was Tractors and snowmobiles later on, he now has married and is ranching and he and his wife Maddi have 2 children Stahley (3) and Sage (2mos) that are the up and coming generation to hopefully keep the Overmyer Mule Hitch going.  Chad and family are always there to lend a helping hand whenever they can. Jon and Michelle are so very proud of the entire family and know that Chad is patiently waiting for the day his father will retire and they can feed cows together with the draft mules.

Daughter Jonelle Overmyer grew up loving all animals, especially horses, mules and cows.  She had many great successes driving the Draft Mules and serving as ambassador for the NIDHMA; her favorite mules to this day are Tom and Bill.  When she would complete in the Cart Class with Tom and win a combined class of Draft Mules and Horses with her Mule Tom, was a huge celebration and huge smiles.  She continued to succeed in her driving to drive the bigger hitches, placing and winning in several bigger hitch classes. Winning the Amateur 4-Up driving was one of her biggest moments in the show arena at the NIDHM show.   She gained a ton of knowledge along the way and made lifetime friends as well. Jonelle went onto be a Certified Veterinarian Technician and works with Large Animals on a daily basis. Jonelle will still come to the shows and events to help as much as she can.  Jonelle can handle the best of hitches and Jon and Michelle are so very proud of her with her accomplishments in life.

Nicole Wolfe, just surviving cancer was a huge accomplishment, but this girl ceases to amaze Jon,  Michelle and the entire draft horse and draft mule world. With all her trials and tribulations to overcome from cancer and partial sight loss, she never hesitated one moment to grab the liens of those gentle giants and show the world that nothing can keep her down.  She proved to us all that she not only can show, but kicks butt with her favorite mules “Tom and Bill”, as Nicole calls them “Her Boys”. Nicole has moved onto driving and competing with her very own mini pony “Harley”. Nicole is very well known in the Pacific Northwest as being an outstanding teamster and showman.  When asked where she learned to drive, with a huge smile on her face, Nicole shows everyone a picture of her driving “Tom and Bill”! Nicole represented the NIDHMA as ambassador during her time of driving for the Overmyer hitch and was an amazing ambassador in promoting the Draft horse and Draft Mule industry. Nicole was the inspiration to the NIDHM show to start a Special Needs class for showing draft horse or draft mules. The Special needs class has proven to be a crowd winner.   The NIDHM show is very unique in catering to all of the youth’s desires and goals in driving draft breeds and strives to help each individual to obtain their goals no matter how small or big. Nicole has definitely touched the hearts of all of our Draft Horse and Draft Mule Families.

The bug of Driving Draft Mules bit the Overmyer Family big, from going from “Hippo and UGLY”, Pickup and Stock Trailer, Team Work Harness and a tent and small camper to Currently 8 Dapple Grey Percheron Draft Mules (TOM, BILL, BOB, JERRY, GUS, GABE, SUZIE, and SALLY),  8 sets of Farm Harness, 8 Sets of Show Harness, Many spare pieces of Harness, 3 Wagons, 2 Carts, Buggy, sleigh that Michelle’s Grandpa built, Many Pieces of Farming equipment(Jon’s Jewelry box) , a lot of special grooming supplies, tools, Semi and 53’ Trailer to Haul mules and gear,  LQ Trailer and 5th wheel RV and lots of HAY, to just list  some of the investment.

Over the 23 year adventure, the Overmyer Family has been blessed to become friends with so many wonderful people. One family in particular really stepped up to help early on when obtained the bigger hitch to help in driving safely and becoming successful. The entire Nagle Family jumped in to help out and is a very giving, and loving family that is always there to help the new guy on the block become successful.  Special Thank You to the entire family for helping us obtain our dream.  A friendship that is truly treasured!

Overmyers feel the most important and true blessing is their family, friends and Hitch Crew that stays by their sides through thick and thin.  Overmyers, their children, friend’s children and now their grandchildren have had and are having the opportunity of a lifetime unlike any other.  The life lessons learned, dedication, hard work, long hours and friendships made, have been worth every penny, blood, sweat, tears, joy and laughter.  Overmyer Dapple Grey Percheron Draft Mule Hitch, wants to put out a HUGE thank you to all that have helped along the way and currently are helping them still to this day.  The Overmyer Hitch is aging as well as the current and beloved hitch crew, but Overmyers and crew are still having fun showing competitively and driving and farming for pleasure.   

The Overmyer Family Percheron Draft Mule Hitch is proof, if you have a dream and set goals in stages, work hard and work hard together as a family, you will succeed

The Overmyers and Hitch Crew wish the NIDHM show many years of success:

Grandpa was right – “It’s Work”