This 20-mule hitch is pulling accurate replicas of the sort of wagon used 1.5 centuries ago to haul borax out of the minesites in the Old West. You’ve heard of “20-Mule Team Borax?” This is how it was done!
When they made a 90-degree right turn, let’s say, they pulled straight through the intersection until all the mules were beyond it, and the wagons, smack in the middle of the intersection, were in the left lane, or the muddy or dusty equivalent.
Then the mules on the left side of the main trace, or chain, on command “jumped the traces” to the right side thereof. All the mules then bunched together on the right side of the main trace and turned tightly to walk back to the intersection and take the turn.
Then those mules straightened out on the new road. And then the mules belonging on the left side of the trace jumped back there to the left side where their places were. So then as they pulled straight ahead on the new road, the wagons could take the turn. Had they not done all that, forget it; they would have rammed the wagons into whatever had been standing at the corner.
This video is not edited over-well, so you do not see the turn correctly. BUT, but, you do see mules jumping the traces at about 4 minutes in.
On their way home, this team pulled uphill all the way. Near home, they slowed, as it was a load, but “they pulled through.”
The ranch where this magnificent public benefactor had fun making all this happen is located in Bishop, California. There is a grand confabulation and gathering of admirers of the long-ears there, every Memorial Day.
The timing of that event is fitting. Mules have fought with us in our wars, from our Revolution, through the Civil War, the Great War, and the Second World War in Burma: