About Us

Breeders of Superior Quality Registered Mules

Gem State Mule Company is dedicated to raising and showing the finest quality racing, performance, trail riding and gaming mules that are conformationally correct with outstanding athletic physical attributes, mental aptitude and training ability with exceptional dispositions.
We have a legacy of breeding champions by taking top quality foundation, reining, halter and performance bred mares, and hand picked jacks to compliment the mare's disposition, performance potential and uniqueness... to produce a "custom" bred mule. We do not own our jack so we are able to prospect jacks based on the desired progeny and advancements in jack owner's individual breeding programs.
Located in the panhandle of North Idaho, Gem State Mule Company is home to some of the finest mules in the Pacific Northwest, situated on a 600 acre ranch in Rathdrum, Idaho, a small town surrounded by beautiful majestic mountains.
Gem State Mule Company shows, competes and sponsors multiple competitions each year and supports equine community festivities by participating in local and regional events. We pride ourselves on being great ambassadors in the mule industry and to the betterment and understanding of these unique and special equines.                   

     Michael and Gayle Stegmann,
     Gem State Mule Company

Michael D. Stegmann




Michael grew up on a ranch in Chesterfield, Missouri.  Missouri’s most recognizable state symbol is ‘The Mule’ so he couldn’t help but to be introduced to them at a very young age where his family had some sprinkled in the pastures in amongst the cows.  For decades Missouri was the nation's primary mule producer.

Michael went on to pursue a very successful career in the fertilizer business and until recently, managed the Lange-Stegmann Company, headquartered in St. Louis.  He brings that leadership and management style to the company by implementing a business strategy and being a guide, teacher, and role model to our team at Gem State Mule Company.

Gayle A. Stegmann




After a 25 year career in the seed business, Gayle retired and decided to pursue her passion…..mules.  She was introduced to mules at the age of 12 when her prize gymkhana mare produced a mule.  Her father told her she had to either sell the mare and keep the mule, or vise versa, but she could not have both.  She kept the mule and has been riding them ever since. Over the years, she has competed in local and regional shows in both performance and gaming events and still does today.  She also is very much involved in running a side business in mule racing, where her and husband Michael have four mules racing seasonally on the California Race tracks. During her career while working with and training mules, in the late 80's she joined her father, Don Jacklin in Mule Endurance racing. Her mule, ‘Apache Ripper’ is in the American Mule Racing Association Hall of Fame. Gayle now enjoys repurposing ‘off the track’ or ‘retired’ racing mules and studying breeding genetics to produce exceptional mule babies. In addition, Gayle gives much of her time and resources to the rural agriculture community by serving on the Board of Directors of the North Idaho Fair & Rodeo Foundation.

Gayle is indisputably one of the world’s best endurance athletes having completed numerous endurance races, regularly placing and taking home the honors:

4-time World Champion Mule Endurance Race, Arlee, Montana

Fastest 26.2 mile marathon time ever recorded in a competitive endurance race event. World Record holder, Mule Marathon, Winnemucca, Nevada with a time of 1:32:00 set in 1987.

Winner of the first ever Endurance Triple Crown of Racing in 1986 and building on her success the following year by winning the 1987 Triple Crown.

Aquinnah O'Keefe

Barn Manager



Born in Upstate New York, Aqua has lived a bit of everywhere but considers North Idaho home. She was born bitten by the horse bug and got her official start riding colts as a teenager for a ranch in New Mexico. She rode a lot of tough country, hit the dirt more than she should, and learned a lot. It made her really appreciate a good equine.

"I've always considered myself a horse gal but when I accepted the Gem State Mule Barn Manager position I absolutely became a mule gal too. The dependability, versatility and personality of mules is unrivaled and the quality we breed for stands on its own. I am passionate about my job and truly enjoy every aspect of our barn". Aqua

In her off time she designs leather apparel, enjoys her horse, Bailey as well as her faithful companion, Clementine. Aqua is a proud mama to a new son and is engaged to a wonderful man.

Donald W. Jacklin




Donald W. Jacklin is an accomplished entrepreneur and visionary, dedicated to the perpetuation of raising and training mules.  As a lead agronomist and scientist for Jacklin Seed, his side interest was breeding quality mules.   He got into mules in the 1950’s when he purchased his first jack, Missouri Chief.  The goal then was to breed leopard appaloosa mules and sell them for a premium, at which time, few were breeding.  Upon selling them in California, he was introduced to the sport of racing.  He served as Vice President of the American Mule Association for 4 years, and then co-founded the American Mule Racing Association and served as President to this well-recognized organization for over 30 years.  He was the proud breeder and owner of multi-track record holder Taz, one of the best mules in his day.  He also bred Czar, who is a well-recognized mule in pattern racing and went on to have a successful gaming career, winning a Prestigious 4D Series against horses throughout the state of CA.  Don also bred ‘Apache Ripper’ who is in the American Mule Racing Association Hall of Fame.  Don showed him under halter in Roseburg, Oregon and won overall grand champion Halter Mule as a yearling against aged mules.  Under Don’s guidance and training, Apache Ripper went on to win four World Championships in Endurance racing and to this day, still holds the world record in Mule Marathon (26.2 miles) competition, with a time of 1:32 min set in Winnemucca, Nevada.
Don earned his honorary doctrine degree from the University of Idaho through his vision and by way of providing financial assistance to clone the World’s First ever equine, a mule, Idaho Gem, a clone of the legendary Taz.  He provides steering and direction in our breeding program and we are fortunate to be able to access his deep wealth of knowledge for improved outcomes.