How to Select the Right Size Mule Saddle

Steve Edwards: Folks, I want to talk to you a little bit about having to set 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 got your legs over bent like this you’re gonna have knee problems, you’re gonna have back problems.

Us guys we tend to slouch in the saddle. We tend to slouch in the couch. We tend to do that, but when we do, we’re gonna develop problems, so 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. So, 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. So 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 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, so that’s what you want to ride, slightly knees bent, you’re riding western style, this is not English. You throw your shoulders back, your chest out, and you ride 60% on your legs, 40% on your seat. If you set all in your seat, you’re going to have a seat problem, your bottom is gonna bother you.

The other thing folks, is you need to condition yourself. If you’re not in condition, you go out there on the side of a mountain and ride, you deserve to be sore. It’s part of life. You know? So when it comes down to this riding, you want to be able to condition yourself, and you want to be able to set correctly.\

Nice thing I like about my stirrups, you look on my fenders here. Notice how my fenders will move. Back and forth. So 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 cantering, I can do that. I can move my legs any way I want, and it’s how I designed this fender in this saddle. I ride mountains. I ride trails. When it comes down to it, I don’t want to spend a lot of time having to be adjusting my saddle and stuff all the time. Now I do have to do that, but I want to be comfortable. I can be able to swing my legs with ease. Again, that’s very, very important.

Now this is a pommel. When you take and setting in the saddle, as you’re setting 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 set … I’ll have 15 saddles out. They’ll set in every single saddle, or I’ll pick out four or five of them that fit them. 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. It’s just that they finally found their seat.

Setting 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 can see I’ve got three fingers in here. That’s too much. When my legs are hanging natural like I should be setting, and I’m setting 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 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.

But when you’re setting natural and you’re setting comfortable. I’m setting comfortable right now. Notice that when I do that, two fingers. Setting comfortable. So that’s what I like to see in a saddle. It’s not your rump size, it’s your thigh, from your thigh and the pommel. This happens to be a 16 inch saddle. I weigh about 200 pounds and I’m 5’6″. So I been riding a 16 inch saddle pretty much most of my life. Hope that helps you on fitting the saddle to you, the rider.