Our mule saddles & tack are made of the best material available and shipped in a timely manner. If you tear it up we will repair or replace it, it’s that simple.
This saddle is designed by Tom to fit the demands of every day use on mules in any environment. We ride every day and want a saddle that we can stay in with safety and comfort and do the same for our mules.
Our mule saddles are custom crafted and require at least six weeks for delivery. We require 50% payment at time of ordering and the balance prior to delivery (via UPS).
This saddle will be offered at the same price as the standard mule rig. Association tree (rawhide covered) 7 gullet 5 castle w/Cheyenne roll 14 swells 4 Texas dally horn Double rigged 7/8 cable rig set (rim-fire set)–this sets the saddle properly on your mule.
(cable rig is fully adjustable) 3 back cinch Near and off side Latino straps 6 string rig Real sheep skin Brass hardware Crupper ring (attached to the tree) Brit chin rings Bell stirrups (rawhide covered) Traders are included Exposed stirrup leathers Horn wrap Breast collar “D” s Rope strap Half-Breed basket weave on corners and swells (rough-out on seat and fenders) Dark oil finish Brass ponchos Seat sizes from 14-17 Our mule saddles are custom crafted and require at least six weeks for delivery.
We require 50% payment at time of ordering and the balance prior to delivery (via UPS). Each saddle has a full year warranty with normal use.
Back cinch Padded suspended seat Crupper and britches rings Solid brass hardware Covered trail lite stirrups or hooded stirrups High quality leather and covered tree Optional Swell Fork Our mule saddles are custom crafted and require at least six weeks for delivery.
We require 50% payment at time of ordering and the balance prior to delivery (via UPS). Each saddle has a full year warranty with normal use.
If you’re reading this article, you are either a proud owner of a mule, you are thinking about becoming an owner, or you work with mules and donkeys and want to know how to best care for these awesome animals. You may look at a mule and see similarities, but underneath the skin, their skeletal structure is fundamentally different from a horse.
Thankfully, we’re not living in the old days and we no longer have to go by the old ways of the mule and donkey. One thing I’ve been encouraged to see is that mule and donkey folks take awesome care of their animals these days and as much as they are interested in the nutrition and housing conditions of their animals, they are equally interested in the appropriate training and mule -specific tack.
Good news, donkey owner, everything in this article applies to you, as well. Just as the equine world is finally understanding the differences between a mule and a horse, they are also starting to understand the difference between a horse and a donkey; it’s very exciting.
So don’t pass over mule and think it doesn’t apply to you. What we’re talking about here is so important, I’m going to say it again: A horse saddle does not fit a mule, and I am going to tell you exactly why.
While what you and I see on the outside may look like the same shape and sizing as a horse, underneath the skin, everything is different. As you situate that saddle, you may ‘feel like’ it fits, but soon you’ll find that you are needing to make all sorts of adjustments to hold the saddle in place, and even then, you will find it moves around.
While you might not be able to see the difference between a mule or horse when they are standing still, as soon as they start moving, you can see that they are not the same. When you watch a horse walk, you’ll see that they don’t move up and down.
You don’t want to block that shoulder from moving forwards and backwards. Take the same horse saddle, meant to accommodate a forward-backward shoulder movement and place it on a mule.
There is a name for the part of the shoulder that horse saddles hit on a mule. Mr Mule will not be happy with the constant impact on his shoulders.
When we look at a mule we see that they are V-shaped in the shoulders, they have an hourglass belly, and they carry the bulk of their weight down low. Horses, on the other hand, are A-shaped in their shoulders, and they carry their weight up high.
Mule owners around the world call me saying, “my saddle keeps riding up on my mule and I can’t do anything to get it to stay still”; I immediately know that they are trying to use a horse saddle which is causing problems. When looking at a horse saddle, you’ll see that the skirting on a horse saddle is square in the front, sitting right on top of the mule’s shoulder (hitting the scapula every time he takes a step).
In my early days of convoying, I didn’t know a darn thing about mules. Because the mule has a completely different bone structure from a horse, we need to begin looking at what that means for a saddle.
The most natural question to ask at this point is, “What do I need to look for in a good mule saddle?” At first glance they look the same, but when you start to examine them more closely, at what’s underneath the surface, the differences are clear as day.
A horse saddle has horse saddle bars and rather than distributing the weight of the rider across the entirety of the back, the saddle actually creates a bridge across the back, placing the rider’s weight squarely on the shoulder and the hip. On my mule saddles, the mule saddle bars come up in the front by the shoulder to relieve pressure from the scapula, so it doesn’t hit the scapula as it moves up and down.
The saddle rises up in the front to accommodate that bone structure and movement. The bars are level with the back all the way from the front to the rear of my mule.
There’s a little of elevation in the back to allow the kidneys to remain safe and protected. My mule bars accommodate the kidneys in the back, the shoulders in the front and place the bulk of the rider’s weight in the seat.
I love looking at these photos and hopping on the phone with my clients to help them optimize every part of their saddle tack because every part of my saddle has been made specifically to fit the mule and donkey. I want to start by introducing you to the specific features of a true mule saddle, “Steve’s mule saddle,” and why each part matters.
The saddle tree is covered with leather and is made up of two bars connected by two forks for the pommel and castle. The horn is an extension of the pommel, often tilted forward and used for holding rope.
Looking at the pommel, the space just underneath is called a saddle gullet and is located over the mule’s withers. If the height is too short, the saddle will rub on the mule’s withers.
When you go too wide, you end up being on the fat pockets which can lead to the possibility of kicking out the ribs. The part of the saddle that supports the rider is called the seat.
The seat is both curved and a bit sloped, to match the pelvic tilt of the rider. If you’ve never sat on a poorly constructed seat on a long trail, let’s keep it that way.
Just like a poorly made saddle tree will make Mr. Mule unhappy, a poorly constructed seat makes for an unhappy rider. The castle is the arched, rear portion of the saddle tree, the back of the seat.
I created a nice, protective castle that is buckaroo in style and will give extra support after hours in the saddle. Skirts are the large leather panels attached to the saddle tree, to protect the rigging and give form to the saddle.
You’re going to need to connect all the appropriate tack such as a breast collar, cinches, britches, reins, and more. The placement of the D-rings and rigging hardware is vital to having all the parts of the saddle work correctly.
The cinch is a leather or fabric band that holds the saddle on the mule’s back by tightening it under the body. If you ask me, I prefer the nylon because it’s stronger, needs less maintenance, and it’s smoother when you cinch up the mule so Mr. Mule doesn’t learn to hold air in his lungs to protect against an over-tightened cinch.
Saddle strings, or ties, are narrow strips of tanned leather, usually in pairs, that lace through the saddle tree or coverings, and are held on the surface by rosettes; the long ends can be decorative as well as tie on ropes, water bottles, and other pieces of equipment. Typically, you’ll have to visit a saddle maker if you would like to replace your ties.
All of my saddles have completely removable ties, so you can replace them on your own. Fenders need to be treated and shaped to fit the individual rider’s legs.
My fenders rotate forward and backward to accommodate riding on a variety of inclines, taking pressure off the rider’s legs while allowing the rider to move more fluidly with the animal. We’ve come a long way from soldiers riding into battle on equines.
The britches is a strap arrangement that fits over your mule’s hind quarters and back around the rump to keep the saddle from sliding forward, particularly when riding downhill. The britches needs to be adjusted to accommodate the incline of the terrain you’re riding on.
I’ve seen riders have to put their mule down because of riding with a crupper. A breast collar is the strap that passes around the mule’s chest on either side of the neck and is “connected” to the saddle.
When the breast collar is attached to the saddle, meaning it is fixed, as the mule walks forward his shoulders will bump the breast collar and slowly, but surely, the saddle will inch forward. Your mule is going to start communicating with you, telling you that he doesn’t like the saddle.
He isn’t going to turn around like Balsam’s Ass, look at you and say, “hey buddy, I don’t like this saddle!” He is going to speak mule, ” and unless you understand mule, ” you’ll miss the signs. Your mule will start shaking his head when you’re riding down hill.
The most obvious solution for having a saddle that fits your mule, is to order a custom saddle made specifically to fit the measurements of your mule. When you build a custom saddle, what you’re actually building for is the muscle mass of the animal; as the muscle mass changes, so will the saddle fit.
As far as fit, a custom saddle is great as long as your girl’s muscle mass doesn’t fluctuate. Don’t get me wrong, there are times for a custom saddle and there are reasons to justify the cost.
Maybe at that point, you can’t find the ‘look’ you want and a custom saddle is the only way. And speaking of measurements, that leads me to the final thing you need to consider regarding a custom saddle: the life of your animal.
She was a great mule and had provided hundreds of rides to family members, friends, vacationers, other mule owners, equine enthusiasts, apprentices, children, and many others. It was during the Arizona monsoon season and I wound up burying her during a storm.
The reason I share my story about Stacy is that the loss of an animal, whether through death or other circumstances, is something we must consider when we purchase a custom-made saddle. Sure, I’ll do custom work on my saddles (stamping, materials, etc) but as far as the tree itself, I use my own saddle trees that are made to fit the skeletal structure of all mules and donkeys.
Stacy’s saddle is one that I still have in my tack room today and continue to use. It’s a bittersweet reality that a bit of Stacy is always with us, but it’s also a heck of a lot cheaper to keep using a saddle on my new mules than having to buy a new one each time.
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is if I sell any of my saddles used. Finding a used mule saddle with the right seat size and fenders that have been shaped to fit your legs and height is nearly impossible.
When you ride with a saddle that is not sized and shaped for you, you open yourself up, unnecessarily, to injury. Now don’t hear me wrong, there is always going to be danger when working with these animals.
They are big and if they decide to do something, there is little you can do at the moment to change their minds (which is why ground foundation training is so important). Sit directly on the spine, and you’re pushing the saddle backward rather than forward.
Looking back at the question that I am asked so often, “Steve, do you have any used saddles for sale?” the answer is no. Just to illustrate, at the time of this writing, I had seen one of my Cowboy Saddles, six years old, for sale on eBay.
So if you’re looking for a used saddle, there are deals to be had out there, but you’ll need to spend a lot of time looking and then make sure it’s the right size for the rider. As I learned more about the mule, I realized that the word-of-mouth training that had been passed along to me just didn’t make sense.
Fast-forward through decades to today, I have an full line of saddles, tack, instructional videos, and resources to pass along to you, today’s mule owner, everything I’ve learned. That’s why I am still training, traveling, and innovating long after many of my peers have retired and moved to a more tropical climate.
The saddles available on my website fit the bone structure of your mule. These saddles are made to fit any mule with average conformation and for those with conformation conditions, such as downhill hip, I work with owners to help them get the best fit possible.
One example of how I’ve helped owners with mules having a downhill hip is by developing a downhill hip saddle pad that compensates for the condition. As long as your mule has been raised right, does not have significant bone issues, we’re talking major issues here, and has average conformation, my saddle with fit your mule.
I never thought I would be in the saddle business, but the truth is that I could not find anything out there that actually met the needs of these animals. I couldn’t find anything that didn’t cause these animals pain.
There might be a bit of extra padding or the size of the castle might be different on a saddle here or there. The truth is that these modifications are not for the size of the rider, they are for the work being done in the saddle.
Folks think they need to sit in the saddle to find the right fit, and it’s not true. With that in mind, I have to make something very clear: Looks have absolutely nothing to do with the functionality of a saddle.
Now, if you’re showing your mule, then looks are a little more important, and I understand the need to give them more consideration. If you’re building a custom saddle (we’ve already talked about the pros and cons of that) you will have a lot of flexibility in determining what you want.
You’ll spend at least $2,000 more than a retail saddle, and you could probably go all the way up to $20,000 more if you wanted to. At Queen Valley Mule Ranch, our saddles are built in the US using top shelf materials and manufactured by experienced suppliers.
Though the only custom feature we offer is stamping, that’s not to say that my saddles aren’t designed to turn heads! Every one of my saddles is built on my tree, using real mule bars, and each one has a unique look, giving you multiple options in regard to finding the one that works best for you.
Cheyenne roll: This is behind the seat, so you can reach behind and grab a hold when you’re going downhill. I’ve found a 4” castle is easiest to get in without sacrificing much height.
Our ponchos are custom-made for my Steve Edwards’ Signature Series Saddles and has the OVER brand on them. First, I want to say thank you for taking the time to educate yourself about the mule.
In the old days, I was ignorant and there are a lot of things I wish I could go back and do differently. Knowing what I know now has completely changed the way I communicate with my mules and has made being a mule owner and an equine lover much more rewarding.
Give me a holler, I’d love to talk to you about what you can do now to take steps so that when you buy your mule saddle, that’s the last piece of the puzzle. If you’re not quite ready to buy that saddle, but you do want to keep taking steps forward, please feel free to contact me.
Work on your ground foundation, learn how to communicate with the mule and gain her trust. Let’s even take a look at your nutrition program and see how we can get that mule’s health at top level from the inside out.