We like to challenge our humans by having the perfect physique, unfortunately this seems to mean that we can't fit in to the stuff you lot buy for your short ears.
For those of you (un)lucky enough not to have had to kit out a long ear we have the following 'issues':
|A lovely flat back...|
2/ This flat back means we have less 'sway' in our backs - this means most saddles designed with a horse tree will be too curved and will pinch and rock on a mule back. Unless you are lucky enough to get a well fitted custom mule treed saddle or have a mule with an abnormal (e.g. horselike) back then this is ever a challenge.
3/. We have much finer shoulders and tend to be narrow in our chests, again this means there is much less to hold the saddle from sliding forward.
4/. My mulificent self is quite short in the back as I'm a pony mule, this means that getting a saddle to fit me and FH is a bit tricky!
5/. Mules tend to have a very forward girth groove which again encourages saddles and girths to slide forward at every opportunity. This can produce the semi train wreck of girth galls and rubs - ouch!
6/. My mouth is teeny weeny (hmmm FH says this is peculiar as I make a lot of noise when I feel like it!). I only take a 4.5" bit and many types aren't available in this size. My FH would love a Rockin S Snaffle but they only go as small as 5" - not fair!
8/. Last but not least are my mulificent ears! Trying to squeeze those in to a normal bridle and browband just ain't happening without a lot of pain - no thank you!
So after a few train wrecks, a few semi train wrecks, some grumpy swishes from me, much expenditure from FH and lots of test riding (like this!) we are finally there. We have passed the test! My gear holds up to:
Steep up hills
Steep down hills
Rides of over 3 hours
Spins and spooks (when I need to check that FH is concentrating ;-)
Oh and of course most important of all, I approve, my tummy and back aren't sore and I can carry FH comfortably without her greeting my ears too quickly and closely!
So here's my get up muleteers, please excuse the dirtiness of my tack and the fact that it's all kind of thrown together and doesn't match (this is no surprise to anyone that knows my human!), FH is a useless caretaker and only cleans things when they are actually mouldy - tut tut.
As with most western saddles it has a front and back cinch which is perfect for my mulish shape as this helps to stop everything sliding forward and the rear cinch helps to make sure that the front girth doesn't slide too far forward and rub my delicate tummy!
The saddle also has staying power for FH so that if I have a little spook she is nicely secure, she is also much more prone to riding on the buckle and holding the horn casually - she is not Calamity Jane but no one's told her!
The back girth is attached to the front girth by a little connector so that it can't slide back and become a buck strap which is a good thing for me and for FH..... My back girth looks a little tight on the pics because of how fluffy I am but don't worry muleteers there's lots of give in it! FH has nice leather straps for the back but as per usual has failed to clean my tack and attach them - useless FH sort it out!
My final piece of saddle adornment is my Limpet Saddle Pad, this is designed to help stop saddles slipping but most importantly is like a piece of memory foam - lovely! FH was very dismissive when we first tried one and said it would make me sweat, make me itchy and generally be useless, hmmm oh how wrong she was, this mule is not having anything else now.
Finally Muleteers my outfit is completed by my bridle. FH really does need to sort the colour out as I would like pink but I guess that's a discussion for another day... maybe for Christmas?! When your ears are as mulificent as mine they are very difficult to squeeze in to a bridle so FH found a 'Click Bridle' where everything can quickly be placed over my ears whilst retaining my dignity (and humour) and my bit can then be clipped on afterwards, so much easier and boy would I recommend it to any mule owner. We've seen some lovely mule bridles in America with a clip over the browband but alas they aren't available here, I keep trying to send FH on a business trip over there, maybe next year! Attached to my super dainty bit are my clip reins that can be detached for groundwork and leading and of course my trusty halter kindly made to fit my mulish proportions by my Aunty Di; this goes everywhere with us so I get led by my halter not my mouth and I can tie up or be ponied off a friend if needed.
So there we have it folks, we have finally solved the Callie Mule Tack Dilemma which has been an ongoing saga.... no doubt FH will still keep tinkering and changing things and one day might even get me a lovely English saddle but for the moment at least we can ride without train wrecks! If you're a mule owner and fed up of tack woes we understand but promise that there is light at the end of the tunnel if you just keep tinkering and use a little lateral thinking.......
Now surely it must be time for another ride soon, I've heard mention of a ride on the moor at the weekend, now that really is the place to test out my equipment :-)
|This mule is all tacked up and ready to ride!|