How to Select the Right Size Mule Saddle and Properly Ride Western Style

Folks I want to talk to you a little bit about having to sit in a saddle. It’s really important that when you’re in a saddle, your legs are slightly bent, just a little bit. If you’ve got your legs over bent like this, you’re going to have knee problems, you’re going to have back problems. Us guys we tend to slouch in the saddle. We tend to slouch on the couch. We tend to do that. When we do, we’re going to develop problems. You want your heels down, your toes up. Notice that when my heels are down and my toes are up, I want to go back. If my toes are down and my heels are up what happens, I want to go forward. Do you want to be forward on a mule when you’re going down a hill? No, no, no, you want to be able to be back getting back here like this. Always think, “Heels down, toes up”.

I just saw a picture of a guy that was supposed to be a mule trainer and he was going into a river and his toes were down like this and he was leaning forward. I thought, “What in the world are you trying to do? Not only are you putting the mule off balance but you’re off of balance okay”. That’s what you want to ride, slightly knees bent, you’re riding Western style, this is not English. Throw your shoulders back, your chest out and you ride 60% on your legs, 40% on your seat. If you sit all in your seat, you’re going to have a seat problem, your bottom is going to bog you. The other thing folks is you need to condition yourself. If you’re not in condition, you go out in the side of a mountain and ride, you deserve to be sore. It’s part of life.

When it comes down to this riding, you want to be able to condition yourself and you want to be able to sit correctly. The nice thing I like about my stirrups you look on my fenders here notice how my fenders will move back and forth. If I need to put my legs way forward going down a steep mountain I can do it. If I’m going to be posting I can do that. If I want to be countering I can do that. I can move my legs any way I want and it’s how I design this fender in this saddle. I ride mountains I ride trails and I don’t when it comes down to it, I don’t want to spend a lot of time having to be adjusting my saddle and self all the time. I do have to do that but I want to be comfortable. I can deal with swinging my legs with ease. Again that’s very, very important.

Now, this is a pommel. When you take in sitting in the saddle as you’re sitting in the saddle, do not put your feet in the stirrups when you’re first testing out a saddle to see if it fits you. I can’t tell you how many people sit … I’ll have 15 saddles out and they’ll sit in every single saddle or pick out four or five of them that fit them and they’ll say, “I like this one the best”. You know what? There’s no difference in any of them saddles. All the exact same tree, all the exact same padding, just that they finally found their seat. Sitting in a bunch of saddles is not going to do it, it’s how you set yourself in the saddle. Notice my feet are not in the stirrups. If I put my feet in the stirrups it’s going to kick my leg back almost three inches. You see I’ve got three fingers in here, that’s too much.

When my legs are hanging natural like I should be sitting and I’m sitting correctly, notice two fingers. You would like to see one to two fingers between your thigh and the pommel. Now I can’t get away with this ladies no matter how I do this to you because it’s not your rump size, it is your thigh size. Like I said I can’t get away with it but this is what you’d like to see. I like to see this on an average two fingers between my thigh and the pommel, at the closest one finger. Then when I set my feet in the stirrups I kick myself back, I’m going to have up to three maybe even four fingers back. I’m not even getting my feet in the stirrups, I just kick myself back, look how I changed it. When you’re sitting naturally, you’re sitting comfortable, I’m sitting comfortable right now. Notice that when I do that, two fingers, sitting comfortable.

That’s what I like to see in a saddle, it’s not your rump size, it’s your thigh from your thigh in a pommel. This happens to be a 16-inch saddle. I weigh about 200 pounds and I’m 5′ 6″. I’ve been riding a 16-inch saddle pretty much most of my life. Hope that helps you on fitting saddle to you the rider.