I like showing mules in performance.
In fact, I've won nearly as many pink NAN cards with mules...
as I have with horses!
As far as I'm concerned, there's only one downside to showing mules in performance: Those wonderful, long, expressive ears can make bridling a challenge.
It's not so bad in Western, but more times than not, an English bridle must be taken almost completely apart to fit over the ears. This is not an insurmountable problem, of course, but it does make tack changes a lot more difficult.
Recently, Kim sent me her pebbles scale Purdy mule for tack fitting. Despite being well packed, it arrived with two broken ears, a cracked leg and a cracked tail. I was beside myself when I saw the damage, but my inner tackmaker couldn't help but think, "Well, that will make the bridle construction a lot easier."And it did!
Part way through construction, however, I started wondering if there was a way to make ears-on bridling easier, too. I did a little online research and a lot of thinking. Then I conferred with Kim and came up with this solution.
Although somewhat unconventional, the buckled crownpiece is not unrealistic. I was able to find several references to full scale mule bridles with this accommodation. Unfortunately, it's not something you will find in a tack catalog. Instead, it's almost always an aftermarket addition.
I usually prefer mainstream styles, but in this case, the benefits definitely outweigh the minor distraction of an extra buckle. The bridle slides easily on and off the mule's head, ensuring quick and easy tack changes. Since the top buckle is the only buckle that needs to be fastened and unfastened, the bridle should hold up well over time.
I don't usually enjoy making mini scale strap goods, but this was kind of fun. Hope you like it as much as I do, Kim!