What’s Wrong With My Saddle?

If you are having issues with your mules saddle, you may be placing it incorrectly. In this video, Steve Edwards shares the right way to place your saddle.

Steve Edwards: People that say, “My saddle is fine up here on top of the scapula,” do this for a test. Slide your hand up underneath here where the scapula is and then turn the head toward that. As you do that, you’re going to find that that thing’s mashing your fingers. Come over here. Slide your hand up underneath here, turn the head towards you. Feel it?

Man: Oh yeah.

Steve Edwards: Oh, yeah. Now take that and put your wife’s 75 pounds up here on the top. You see how I made points there?

Man: Yeah.

Steve Edwards: Okay, and put-

Speaker 2: She weighs more.

Steve Edwards: Watch this, okay?

Speaker 2: Oh yeah.

Steve Edwards: And that’s just my little 35 pounds right here, okay? That’s what’s on there. So can you imagine what’s happening? Every time that scapula comes up, boom boom boom. The folks when you see a saddle that the cinch is way up underneath the front legs, and you see a saddle up on that scapula and people say they got that mule for sale, those people don’t know anything about mules. Get away from them because they are ruining this mule. They’re doing it like a horse, just setting the saddle up on the wither like a horse. We don’t want to do that.

Other mistake folks make, yes this is my saddle. Queen Valley Mule Ranch, got the old conchos, you know, the saddle is probably what, five years old?

Man: Something like that.

Steve Edwards: Something like that, okay. My saddle, all my equipment, but installed incorrectly, so it’s going to work like everybody else’s saddle, okay? Number one, the back cinch. The back cinch allows that saddle to stick up in the back. Okay? The back cinch needs to be the tightest; the front cinch needs to be the loosest. The back cinch needs to be here, and then what a lot of people do to keep this cinch back away from the front leg is they put this strap here. That don’t do a bit of good, as you can see, you know, it’s already up there. It don’t do a bit of good. Plus at your britchen now you can slide your hand up under here so you actually only have about one inch of britchen compared with three inches you should have.

Man: This is the worst case scenario.

Steve Edwards: This is the worst case scenario, but it’ll be okay, all right? She’s not going to hit me too hard, shoot.

Woman: The back cinch, when do you really, really need the back cinch?

Steve Edwards: When do you really need a back cinch? You need a back cinch all the time.

Woman: Why?

Steve Edwards: The reason that is is because their belly is hourglass shaped and they carry their weight down low, so the saddle with the front cinch makes the saddle go forward and gets up on top of their shoulder, okay? I have people all the time say, “Well I do just fine.” Okay, well ask your mule how well he’s doing, you know? Try to put your hand up underneath there, or put your hand down here and let me sit my foot on it and see how long you like it. It’s the same feeling, you know? Because these poor animals are putting up with a lot. An awful lot. You have to have a rear cinch on the mule all the time. All the time. The front cinch needs to be loosest, the back cinch needs to be the tightest.

These straps need to be back here on the bars. Here’s the back of the bar, here’s the back of the bar. Hand me one of those bars down there on the ground back there.

Woman: Which one of them, the mule one?

Steve Edwards: Yeah, the mule one. There you go, you know it’s a mule, look at that.

When we have it here, we’re only pulling on one side. We need to pull directly onto the bar from right here. When we got it down here we tend to pull the bar down, and it doesn’t work the same. We want this strap to go here. We want the hip plate to be back here, okay? With the hip plate being here look here how it’s pulling the saddle up, and see how it’s rubbing the hindquarters? You want to know how the mule lost his hair right there? Not the britchen’s fault. It’s my fault. I have to understand that when I adjust the britchen incorrectly I’m going to have that problem. Okay?

Here’s the little salt and pepper white hairs when the britchen’s rubbing, you know? Okay, so

Man: So you’re going to fix all this for us?

Steve Edwards: Sure I am! Absolutely.

Man: Just want to make sure.

Steve Edwards: I don’t leave you alone like this. Okay, see, notice how I told you about conways, how you don’t pull the strap through like this? It makes it extremely difficult to get loose.

I’m going to fix you up old mule. You’re going to be so happy with me. You’re going to say, “Oh I love Steve.”

Notice how my D ring goes back?

Man: Yeah.

Steve Edwards: It’s adjusted. It’s way different than everyone else. I do this for a reason. If I’ve got a full rigging plate, the ring is going to be here. Three quarters is going to be here and then seven eighths is going to be here. I’ve got it right in between seven eighths and three quarters so that I’ve got it in the right place for my mule’s shoulders, okay? That’s the purpose of that.

Loosen this up a little bit, two notches, but you see this all the time and people say, “It’s the only way I can make my saddle work.” Well then why in the world are you riding that kind of a saddle, you know? That you’ve got to make work and it’s still sore on the animal? You hear it all the time. They don’t want to spend the money to make it right, the poor guy’s always suffering.

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