If your saddle continues to ride forward on your mule even after investing in a proper mule saddle and supporting tack, there is a good chance it has to do with something call a Downhill Hip. This Downhill Hip Saddle Pad works in tandem with your mule saddle (not a horse saddle – learn more) to compensate for this Downhill Hip, keeps the saddle from moving forward, and prevents added pressure on the kidneys by creating support from the rear of the saddle all the way to the front.
The mule’s basic conformation is v-shaped in the shoulders, carries his weight down low, and has an hour-glass belly which means that the saddle will automatically want to go forward – when a mule has a down hill hip, it increases the intensity of that movement almost double when the hip is higher.
The Downhill Hip Saddle Pad lifts the front of the saddle up approximately two inches which will help balance the saddle straight across. Unlike other solutions which create a bridge that places pressure on the front and the rear of the saddle, the Downhill Hip Saddle Pad has enough padding and surface to support the saddle all the way across.
This saddle pad is uniquely different than the Standard Saddle Pad and different than the TRIPLE DUTY Saddle Pad in that it is significantly thicker in the front of the pad – whereas the other two models have a consistent thickness throughout the pad.
Will This Pad Work with My Saddle?
This pad does not replace an ill-fitting saddle, it is designed to work in tandem with a saddle that is built with mule bars, specifically Steve Edwards Signature Series Saddles.
You will still need a rear breaching and you will still need a rear cinch to be tight, but this saddle will help make up for poor conformation and keep your authentic mule saddle from riding up on your mule’s neck.
Does Your Mule Have a Downhill Hip?
The mule’s conformation is extremely important. One of the downsides of breeding to our more modern horses is we end up with a high hip which is above the wither. Looking at it from the side, look at the wither and look at the hip. When the hip is higher than the wither it is called a down hill hip.
What happens with the saddle, because of the conformation not the saddle, the saddle wants to slide forward. If you only prop up the front 4 inches of the saddle you end up creating a bridge creating a front of the saddle to the front of the saddle. At this point, the back of the saddle will begin to create problems with the kidneys. This extra pressure on the kidney can lead to asciteria. When you see the urine becoming darker thats a sure sign of kidney issues.
Should I Have a Custom Saddle Made for My Mule with A Downhill Hip?
It’s not uncommon for owners to consider having a custom saddle tree created to fit their specific mule to accommodate a downhill hip – after all, a good owner doesn’t want to cause their mule pain, a good owner wants to alleviate all unnecessary pain and discomfort.
There are two major considerations (and downsides) beyond cost to creating a custom saddle to fit a downhill hip mule. First, any saddle created to fit would be a very ugly saddle because the tree would have to be 2 to 2 1/2 inches thick in the front to compensate for the downhill hip. Second, like any custom saddle, when that mule is no longer around, your saddle becomes useless to fit any other mule.
The benefit of the Downhill Hip Saddle Pad is it works in tandem with any Steve Edwards Signature Series Saddle and will help with your mule’s conformation. When you go to ride your mule with a downhill hip, use the Downhill Hip Saddle Pad. When you go to ride any other mule with proper conformation, use the same Steve Edwards Saddle and swap out the Downhill Hip Saddle Pad with a standard saddle pad – saving you money, the need for additional saddles, and most importantly, saving your mule from pain and discomfort.