Monday, March 17, 2014

Problem solving

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!


  1. Very creative! Great, Emma is so pretty in that second picture. Well, actually she has always been beautiful. Did you retire her?

    1. She's not officially retired, but I'm not currently showing her in performance. Of course, seeing how I haven't actually shown performance in more than a year, that's not saying much! :)

  2. Absolutely wonderful, I love mules!

  3. Excellent problem solving!

  4. Buckled crown pieces are becoming quite common for rolled double bridles! She'll fit right in :D

    1. Yes! I actually thought (briefly) about making a rolled bridle just to explain the buckled crownpiece, but I didn't think that style suited her head at all.

      Since posting these pictures, I've also been told that it's not unusual to see a buckled crown on a TWH bridle. I didn't know that, so I'm pleased to hear it. As far as I'm concerned, the more buckled crowns the better!


  5. The show jumping mule is so beautiful!

    -Kelsey Roe