Installing your mule saddle and tack correctly ensures that you enjoy your ride and that your mule equally enjoys the ride. In this video I share a little bit about the Trail Lite Saddle and also go through instruction for using your saddle cinches and your mule Britchen.
Meet the Trail Lite Mule Saddle
On the ranch here, we got a lot of work we do. I thought when I was younger, of course I was stronger then than I am now, but I had to have big and heavy saddle. This is my train line saddle it’s Cordura on the skirting. On the seat and pummel, it’s all leather. You can see by looking at this saddle, I put a lot of miles in it. You can see I wrap my horn with inner tube so that when I rope something, I’m able to hold it in place.
I’ve found I don’t need big and heavy. I need something that’s going to be stout, more modern. I tell folks all the time, “LEt’s look at our different cars.” The Model A had wood framing and tin nailed onto it. Our new cars have uni bodies in them. They’re meant to in an accident fold up. They’re more flexible. That’s what I’ve done with this saddle. I have a polipropene tree in is. I have skirting that’s easy to take care of, easy to maintain. I have a saddle that I can work in or I can play in that’s going to be tough.
You can see I keep my hobbles on here as well. I keep raw hide hobbles. We don’t tie our mules to trees out here because we don’t have them. Plus that, it is against the law in any national forest to tie to a tree.
Mule Britchen Placement and Instruction
Britchen, it’s extremely important on a mule. A Britchen has muscle mass. You can put this Britchen on from the bottom to the top. You have ten to twelve inches depending upon the hip that you have on your mule. You do not want to keep your Britchen in the same place. When you have a lot of hills that you’ll be going up and down, if you lower your Britchen, you’ll be able to have your mule sit down on your Britchen and hold the saddle back. When you raise the Britchen, that means you’re going to be mostly riding on a lot of flat ground. When you’ve got a lot of little tiny hills, pretty easy to ride, you can ride with your Britchen up.
Notice what I have here. I have buckles on the adjustments of my Britchen. I also have on my quarter strap a buckle adjustment here as well. My back straps, these two straps here, I wanted to keep what’s called my hip plate, that’s this pad right here, I want to keep it in the center of the hip, somewhere between the dock of the tail and the point of the croup right here. I want to keep it on the down side. When I do my measurements, with my leg being fairly straight to my hip, I want to be able to slide my hand in. That is a half an inch. Then when I pull my hand away, as soon as I feel some pressure here, I should see an inch.
Your saddle will move an inch to an inch and a half forward and back, left and right. That is optimum for the comfort of your mule. More than an inch and a half, your saddle will go forward and get on top of the scapula. That scapula moves up and down like pistons. When that saddle goes forward, the mule’s going to shake his head and tell you he’s uncomfortable.
When I rig up my saddles with my Britchens, I put my quarter strap underneath my leg and it attaches to this D ring. Notice I am using the buckle on my cinch. I’m not creating a knot up here. I’m putting the pressure up on my leg. When I take and cinch my mule up, I then go into the tongue of my cinch and then I go up into my keeper right here. By doing that, I don’t have a big loop underneath my leg.
Now for Britchen, you can see I have the quarter strap comes from this D ring down to here. This right here is an area that is most comfortable for the mule to put the D ring here because in this area is where you usually see the driest area. In this area on the mule’s back, you’ll see the driest area and you usually see the most white hairs. White hairs are caused by a scald. It’s from too tight of a front cinch, not a tight enough back cinch.
When I take and put my Britchen on, I do not want to keep it in the same place. I want to move it up and down, especially when I have a colt that don’t know a lot about going up and down. They’re going to be using their hips different so you continually want to be changing your Britchen.
Why Use a Mule Britchen Over a Crupper?
Why a Britchen over a Crupper? A Crupper was never designed for more than six to eight pounds. A Crupper will allow a saddle to move two to two and a half inches forward and back, left and right. A Crupper only goes under the dock of the tail. When you take and pull up on the tail and sit down here, you’re going to take those vertebrae that are supposed to look like this and you’re going to start breaking them down.
a lot of people are going to think, “My mule is fine with it riding it for two, three, five years with a Crupper.” If you took your mule which you should do to a chiropractor, you will find that you’re starting to take vertebrae and put them out of place. The downside of vertebrae going out of place is that pretty soon the mule braces into pain, but pretty soon these bones start rubbing together instead of being nice and flush. They start tipping like this, start rubbing together, you start getting arthritis starting to set in. You’ve just lost your good buddy who you’ve taken up and down the trail.
Britchen is super important to have adjusted correctly.