By Ashley Rader
Working with draft animals is in Gap Creek resident Mike McKinney’s blood, and it’s something he plans to continue doing for as long as he is able. What started as helping out on the farm as a child has grown into a hobby of showing an award-winning mule team at events in Tennessee and Kentucky.
His appreciation of farm animals started as a young child when he would work with the horses and mules. He began showing ponies when he was 10 years old and accompanied neighbor Thelma Bowling, who also owned Windy Hills Stables, to the Tennessee Walking Horse Show that was held at Elizabethton High School in the 1960s. When he attended the 1968 show, which was the sixth annual horse show in Elizabethton, McKinney was hoping to win his sixth ribbon showing horses.