Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hunter Under Saddle--Mule Style!

Hunter Under Saddle is a non-jumping class for "English" type horses and riders.  Entrants wear Huntseat tack and attire and are judged on their movement, way of going and manners.  Although the basics are the same, different breeds tend to approach the class in different ways.  Today we're focusing on mules.  All pictures come from the Hunter Under Saddle classes at the National Western Stock Show's Mule and Draft Show.

Hunter Under Saddle is a classic rail class.  The mules compete in a group, on the rail and in both directions of the ring at a walk,
and canter.
While on the rail, they may also be instructed to halt...
 and back up.
At the conclusion of the class, the entrants are asked to line up in the middle of the arena.
One by one, they are called forward to receive their ribbons.
I watched three separate Hunter Under Saddle classes at the Mule Show, and generally speaking, the top mules went in a style reminiscent of what you would see at a Quarter Horse show.
It's worth noting, however, that even the lowest headed mules moved out at a faster clip than most Quarter Horse hunters.
Also worth noting--some of the up-headed mules did just fine.  This furry white mule won a good ribbon in the Youth class.
Turn out was a mixed bag.  Not surprisingly, the mules that moved like Quarter Horses were also dressed like Quarter Horses.  Note the number pocket pad, kimberwicke bit and the fake banged tail. 
All sorts of English bits were in evidence.  This mule is using a pelham without the snaffle rein.
Because of their rather unique anatomy, many of the mules wore breastplates...
 or cruppers to help keep their saddles securely in place.
Most of the mules were shown with roached (clipped) manes, but once again, there were exceptions.
I really enjoyed my day at the Mule Show--hope you did, too!


  1. Mules are certainly interesting creatures! My boss owns a mini-mule "Buckwheat" - he is the smartest, sweetest guy - once you show him he doesn't need to fear you!

  2. Thanks for sharing the pictures - very interesting!

  3. Argh, so jealous! As far as I know we don't have any mule classes in the UK. :(

  4. That "tobi" mule looks like he's wearing a dressage saddle - black and the longer flaps :)

  5. It might be dressage saddle or perhaps an all-purpose with a strong dressage tendency. Tack really was all over the map. If this show was any indication, I think it's safe to conclude that mule showers are not slaves to current fashions!