Isn’t life Grand! Rockin’ L Saddlery started out in the corner of a neighbor’s shop. I actually was living in
my horse trailer next to his (Chris Hostetler’s) shop in Datil, N.M. and riding the mountains with Chris after my adventures in TX. and Montana with a little of Wyoming thrown in amongst for good measure. So- the following is a little run down of basic info, for those who do not know my history since 2010 and the roads that led to The Rockin’ L being started. I will do my best to be brief but succinct in my briefing of this course of events.
In 2001 I had very life changing experience that consequently led me to Our Lord- Jesus Christ and to
be saved and “Born Again”! Upon my acceptance of Jesus as my Lord and Savior and total belief that he died on that cross for my sins I rolled into a totally “New Life”. As life moved on there were a lot of battles and ensuing circumstances that had to go their course. All were for the betterment of a true living experience through Him that has not and will not stop!
In the spring of 2010 I made a MAJOR commitment, at that time, to follow His instruction for my life.
There had been a tremendous turmoil that He flat out brought to a head one day and gave me a choice, either get on the Kings Highway or keep playing the devils game that was in my life. It stopped me in my tracks and I made a stand for my life WITH Him. As that unfolded I was involved in a wreck with a horse and got my knee busted up really bad. Other circumstances at the time took advantage of that situation as much as they could and proceeded to wear on me for a whole year as I struggled with keeping the ranch going, me going and meeting obligations. All to no avail and finally I threw in the "worldly"towel and I told the Lord that whatever He wanted me to do I could survive as long as He helped guide me. What a ride it has been since the summer of 2011. I turned my 24’ stock trailer into living quarters, tack and tool storage and room for two horses in the back with hay and feed storage. After that I moved to a friend’s ranch in south Texas, living in my trailer, riding my 4 yr. old horse, pushing steers at roping’s, training on team roping and generally self -healing myself mentally and physically. The Drs. had done all that could be done and I learned to be grateful that I still had a leg from the knee down. No matter how incapacitating it was, at least I had it to get around on. I literally could, and still can ride horseback better than I can walk! All the Thanks to God! In that year of late 2011 into early 2012 I went to Wyoming several times and checked it out. I got to learn and see a lot about that part of the country. The end of 2012 I had an opportunity to help some folks move to western Montana, which I did. In March of 2013 I moved my few personal possessions, truck, horse trailer/home and horse to Montana and worked there until late 2014. A converted stock trailer is not really easy living in 34 below zero weather- however I’m here to tell you it can be done! Work was sparse, the country and the riding was fantastic and I encourage any and all who have not been to go in the summer and enjoy it all. Great country, wildlife and rodeos. The end of July the Lord moved me out of Montana and planted me in the Datil Mountains just S.W. of Datil, N.M. And Life got even better.
Enter the leather working going on in Chris’s shop, enter a M1913 Cavalry mule saddle, enter a piece of
property available, enter funding to buy and build. God is good and if one follows His direction and is not afraid to walk through a door He has opened His plan can be presented and will carry many rewards if followed. All of 2015 was spent installing plumbing, electric, fencing and building what God said to do. A custom saddle shop with an attached “bunkhouse” in order to have a warm, dry place to stay and the shop business to build up as he directed. All this was done via His instruction and wisdom and pretty much, other than a few days with outside help, just God, my dog (Lincoln) and me!
Actually moved in Mid-September and Life got better yet. Chris had given me an old M1913 Cavalry mule
saddle that was in pretty bad shape and told me to strip it down. Then he showed me with that one and the reconditioned one he rode in, how and why, they fit mules so well. He said if a fellow could get trees made with the M1913 bar configuration, forward hung stirrups, short horn, heavy swell and 3 1⁄2” cantle done up the way my mountain riding horse saddle was done, that he believed that folks would figure out how good they were and realize that all the “issues” of saddle fit, as well as not having to have breechings and collars tight to keep a saddle in place, could make more comfortable mules! We then discussed other issues I knew about and showed him. His dream began to become a reality. As you go through the pages on this site you can learn more on that subject. (Mule Saddles link) In December of 2015 God stopped me from all extra jobs making money to finish the shop and instructed me to get in it and get started. And this I did – building the first saddle (For Chris-the man that turned me onto the essential information and actual tree configuration needed) along with other horse and mule tack. With that came custom knife sheaths, phone cases, holsters, shoulder rigs and on and on.
During all this, I totally committed all of what God had provided for me back to Him and gave Him
dominion over any and all things He intended for my life –Life is really great now! I totally enjoy doing His will each and every day at His pace and in His time. I look forward to serving you as a valued customer and will do my best to help you in any way with knowledge and understanding in all things horse, mule and God as I am His workman.
The Mule SADDLE TRUTH
This section is full of information and explanations of Rockin' L's mule saddle. A lot of style and a very strong, well built saddle that is proven on mules here in the rough, steep mountains of New Mexico, a mountain riders dream come true, a packers dream come true and even the easy trail riders dream come true.
Rockin’ L Saddlery’s Mule Saddle is built on the tree specs that the US Cavalry used to develop the M1913 that worked very well. These saddles have been tested in the mountains of NM and have over 10,000 hours of riding in them. They fit most ALL, conditioned mules!
M1913 Cavalry Mule Saddle - When you are small enough to use it's small (13 7/8" seat) it fits most any mule it is used on!
Mule Saddle Information
I know you have questions…lots of them! And I want to do my best to answer as many of them here as I possibly can. The following topic paragraphs will give you detailed information about these saddles and their development! My hope is that this will help you better understand how you can have the most optimal experience while riding and caring for your mule! I’ll be adding to this list as questions are asked, so check back with me frequently!
Mule Saddle Foundations – What my saddles are built on!
Rockin’ L Saddlery has developed a mule saddle that truly fits a mule’s back and allows the mule to move comfortably without having the saddle “tied” front and back to keep it in place. This saddle has bars developed off of a tested, tried and true design that was built in 1913 by the U.S. Cavalry tree makers! These were built specifically for the mule riders in their ranks that virtually rode “from when you can’t see to when you can’t see” everyday leading pack-trains throughout the west. Going to the various forts, bringing supplies etc. to the stationed troops.
In the following paragraphs I will try to enlighten all who seek knowledge on this tree design as well as the mis – conceptions around why people claim to have these “Cavalry mule saddles” and they do not fit their mules.
First off – to clarify my last statement above I will explain why folks have a saddle that “looks” like the 1913 mule saddle but is not! The tree on the 1913 mule saddle is distantly different from that of the Second Model 1904 McClellan. The tree of the M1913, though constructed in a manner similar to the M1904, has several important differences. First, the angle of the underside of the tree is constructed to fit the wider back of the American Mule, not a horse. This means that the sidebars of the M1913 flare outward more on their lower edges. Second, the shape of the rear of the sidebars of the M1913 does not give the rounded appearance of the M1904 but, though somewhat rounded, is sharply notched back toward the back of the cantle. Third, the sidebars of the M1904 extend almost 3⁄4” further rearward than do those of the M1913.
Fourth, the sidebars of the M1913 are noticeably more “wasp waisted” than those of the M1904. A typical M1913 sidebar at its narrowest, measures about 3 13/16” in width while the typical M1904 measures about 4 5/8” at the same point – a variance of about 1 3/16”.
Fig. 3 - A closeup of the distinctly wasp-waisted side bar curvature on the M1913.
Fig. 4 - This closeup photo compares the rear sidebar areas of the regulation Second Pattern M1904 McClellan on the left and the M1913 Mule Riding Saddle on the right. These two seats differ markedly. The rear end of the sidebars of the M1913 are much less curved than those of the M1904 and the angle of the sidebar and the cantle arc is much more abrupt, i.e. the M1913 forms a sharp "notch" as the sidebars turn back toward the saddlebag stud area.
Fifth, all M1913 Mule riding Saddle trees are the same size (hence no size markings). Sixth, the pommel – with its brass horn – is not mortised for a coat strap. Finally, and not so obviously, the pommel and cantle arches are much thicker than those on a M1904 tree. The reason for this is that each arch has a large, contoured block of brass mounted there. While these brass blocks have the effect of strengthening and stabilizing the seat on the mule, there is no actual documentation on the Army’s stated purpose for this construction.
That all being said is why- when you look at pictures of a M1904 vs a M1913, one cannot see the differences unless one knows what to look for. Most people hear of the Cavalry Mule saddle, look it up and get a picture. Then they look for one to buy ending up buying (99% of the time) a M1904. Then claim it does not fit their mules and they are right! It’s a similar looking saddle sold maybe as a Mule saddle but made for a horse’s back, not a mule!
The following explanation and pictures should help enlighten one to all of this. The Rockin’ L Saddlery saddles are set up off the M1913 Bar and widths. The third generation tree company that builds these trees for me actually came to Datil, N.M. and looked at an old M1913 stripped tree I had. They saw the differences from the M1904 that they had seen. Realizing through our discussion how the M1904 came into being off of the M1913 mule saddle!They told me that they had seen trees like this but NOT with that style bar. I explained to them what it was and why it was made. Then they realized what they had been seeing was the M1904 Horse saddle. After discussion and studying they saw where we could make changes to get more than a 13 7/8” seat built into it. Rockin' L maintains 14", 14 1⁄2”, 15”, 15 1/2″, and 16” seat trees in stock with the ability to build a smaller or a bigger seat (though not recommended on the bigger without a lot of other things considered). As you can see in the pictures below showing the seat measurements – the M1913 is actually a big 13 7/8” bare tree seat with a very straight cantle. The Rockin’ L (on right, bottom if mobile) is a 14 1⁄2” bare tree seat that is a true measurement and has a nice dish to the cantle. The others pictures show that the important configurations (those discussed in the above paragraphs) of the M1913 are there, but modified to accommodate different seat sizes and to have tree integrity. Rockin’ L bars are actually wider yet and really allow the mules back to round well with no pressure on muscle!
The M1913 Rigging and Rockin’ L Saddlery rigging.
In my years of being around mules and the folks that ride and use them, I have been through and seen the struggles of getting a saddle to fit on a mule without any consequences! One of the biggest problems has, in my eyes, been the placement of the rigging. Many times I have found or seen different horse saddles that would sit reasonably well on a mule but once cinched and put into service required a breeching kept snug and a pulling or breast collar kept snug to “keep” the reasonably well fitting saddle in place somewhat! These “necessary” items usually created wear and tear spots on the animal if used a lot! When looking at the rigging and cinch position I always saw that a front cinch rigging set between the 7/8th and full position would be ideal for a mule’s natural cinch position. Mules have a very narrow cinch zone due to their conformation. The shoulders and front end make up of a mule's conformation is dramatically different than a horse. When one has been trained in how important that is (the conformation), to the “fit” and comfort of the animal being used, one can see what is not right versus what should be! I actually had an old A-Fork saddle that had a rigging very similar to what I’m talking about and the saddle stayed put but was too narrow! Most horse saddles are set up on 7/8th rigging. Consequently as the mule travels the rigging set up wants to pull the bars into the top of the mule’s shoulder limiting his stride and creating pain. This leads to a mule not wanting to do all the things asked of it or even worse - sulling, bucking, bolting etc. Here comes the breeching and pulling collars gamut, trying to keep the mule comfortable enough to use. Realistically this is just changing the pressures to different areas that the mule will tolerate better. But even then it can create other problems such as “grabbing it’s butt" or balking at uphill pulls - as pain is pain and each mule has different levels of tolerance!
On the talk about rigging all Rockin’ L saddles are made with in-skirt rigging designed to use latigos on both sides. These in-skirt riggings, fronts and backs (if a rear rigging dee is not used) are reinforced with 8 oz. rawhide sandwiched in between the skirt leather and jockey. They are very, very strong but providing “close” contact and less outward push on one’s thighs and knees.The closest you can get to bareback without being bareback! This pays big dividends in comfort when in the saddle for long hours of rough country riding providing more “feel” between you and your animal.
Stirrup Leather Position and Abilities
The following shows the comparison with differences between the M1913 and Rockin’ L Saddlery saddles.
As you can see the stirrup leather hanger on the M1913 is angled back which is not conducive to be able to move one’s legs forward to maintain vertical in steep decents. All of the Rockin’ L Mule Saddles are made with forward hung stirrups and two ways of adjusting fender length – the first with the blevins in 2” increments, the second in 1” increments, making it very user friendly in adjustment. The following pictures show the 1” adjustment capability. The Blevins is pretty standard knowledge. Also showing the rig set up for the front cinch and the position of the cinch on a mule after 4 hours of riding. The saddle is still in the correct position on the mule’s back - “in the pocket” behind the shoulders. The front cinch is run "loose."
This is a subject that warrants a lot of attention as most people are very misled in the use of each. In the mule world of riding mules with a breeching it is being used for something it was NOT designed to be used for! That being said, I am going to make a statement right here that may “shock” some who have the conception of it being a necessary, standard item of use! A breeching is to be used ONLY for draft animals or pack animals! Period. Now to break this down for you to understand the differences and what those differences can do when used in the wrong configuration.
A breeching on a draft animal is used only for holding back a load on a wagon, sled or farm implements, buggies etc. or, to back said implements up to turn around, park or unload. These animals are used in an easy, slow form and are being able to use the breeching as intended. They are in control of putting their body against it to get the needed results.
A breeching used on a pack animal is used by that animal similarly to the draft animal. The load, if packed correctly, is secure and very stable. The experienced pack animal uses the secured load and his body against the breeching and breast collar to keep that load centered and balanced above himself. Therefore he can adjust himself against the pull of the load using the “gear” to maintain that center and balance. This load is not a live, wallowing around human being that is constantly shifting, twisting, leaning, yanking and basically being unstable above the animal.
Now to explain the REAL crux of why a breeching is used- the saddle that you have IS NOT MADE TO FIT A MULE, OR IF IT IS, IT IS NOT FITTING YOUR MULES BACK CORRECTLY. It may be close when standing still but when moving it does not fit the mule.Lack of knowledge on locomotion conformation on the tree builders part! End of the point- here is what happens when a breeching is used:
A breeching is being used to keep the saddle from running up over the mule’s shoulder, therefore it is snugged up way more than the intended way a breeching should be fitted. If fitted as it should be, by the time it comes into play the saddles bars are up over the shoulder digging in, hence - the having to run snugger than intended. On top of that, one is using a piece of gear to do a job it was not intended to do. When running the breeching where it will prevent the saddle from “walking” forward, even on flat ground, it is constantly putting pressure on the animal’s hindquarters- ALTERNATELY. Now think about that word, alternately. With every step as the animal extends one back leg the breeching is pulling that side of the saddle back. Then switching to pulling the other side back as the other leg drives the animal forward. This creates a see-saw effect on the saddle. Now add a 30 - 40 pound saddle, a 100 - 250 pound person and you have a tremendous amount of pressure being pulled side to side. AS this is happening your animal has tremendous pressure being applied on the back haunches that effects the circulation, the nerves that create the muscles ability to work and the fact that extension of the hind legs is hindered. (These points do not even take into the fact of what is happening on the animals back due to an incorrect fit of your saddle when a mule is under locomotion. That is a whole story in itself that a lot of folks do not know about. The anatomy of the mule and what a mule does naturally when they are MOVING and how that effects the way a saddle is built!) Think about the above scenario of the breeching, as you envision your animal walking on flat ground. Now envision trying to go uphill and the need of your animal to have more leg extension, but can’t get it because the pulling collar is holding the saddle from sliding back. This changes everything. Your animal is now having to adjust itself to use more front end to go up instead of the natural need to propel from the true motor, the back end! As you develop that process into a picture, take the time to really think about what you have felt and seen when under those conditions! Think about some of the things your animal did that was not in his or her character. But rather a reaction to an action that the human created! After giving that some thought, think about going downhill and visualize what that breeching is doing as you go down. Your animal naturally gathers and that allows that breeching to be looser than the tight setting you had it set up at, this releases the saddle and lets the bars do just what you did not want them to do- run up onto or over your mule’s shoulder. The animal knows this is going to happen, hence the desire to “charge” down or want to go across instead of down a steep incline. Once again the fact arises of that equipment hindering your animal to make necessary moves, leg extensions etc. to traverse rough downhill country. NOW- add to all the above scenarios the fact that YOU are up on top of all this, getting jostled around, twisting in the saddle, grabbing your cantle and basically adding a lot of imbalance to the whole picture.
As we ride - the goal of your animal is to keep you balanced and centered above him/her. This fact is not known to a lot of people but it is a natural desire of your mount as they are the ones toting you along. In other words, they are trying to “stay under you.” So, IF you are a reasonably balanced rider, you are staying in the center of your ride. You are aware of getting yourself forward by grabbing your horn or swell when climbing to keep your animals “engine”( his back end) able to work better. Also maintaining a more vertical , centered position on ascents. All this is done staying centered on your animal. So, we stop and visualize this. You are centered, saddle is centered, animal is keeping themselves centered under you and his/her backbone is their center. It is a proven fact that an equine can clamp down with their tail head and hold more pressure than anyone can imagine. Here comes a crupper into the picture. Correctly installed ( very neglected understanding of fit by most), it has no pressure on anything until needed. An animal very quickly learns that it can tuck its butt just a little (which occurs naturally on downhill ascents), clamp its tail and CONTROL the forward movement of the saddle toward the top of the shoulder, all this being done in a center line, no side to side yawing, no restriction and they are in charge of holding and releasing! Imagine that, they can and do know how to control that with each step. This allows them to stay balanced, centered under you, making necessary stride adjustments to terrain and they are NOT struggling to do it.Thus making a happier, more in control animal that is more willing to go slow and easy, can make big moves if necessary and will go as you ask!
IF one gets around Real Deal, professional packers and ask them about cruppers versus breechings they will flat out say, “No breeching on any of my riding stock, only cruppers. All my packers are instructed on this and all my pack stock have to be packed correctly, no low, loose or unbalanced loads and all animals have their own packsaddles that are hand fitted each year!” Guess that pretty well sums it up when “old-timers” who have run rough country, making a living at it tell you that. You need to heed what they say and IF you spend enough time chatting with them they will tell you the why’s of it all. Providing you don’t try to impress them with your ignorance! If you do that it usually just gives them an internal laugh and gets you a shrug and a polite” Have a nice day but I got work to do!” Hope this has shed light on an issue that is in large abuse on mules for riding stock and encourages you to learn and understand more about that creature and what IT needs to be able to tote you around going all the places you ask of it! They are willing and able but due to folks basically treating them like a 4-wheeler with legs, riding like they are on a four-wheeler or at home on the couch it makes life hard for your 4-legged partner.
They will, and usually do, put up with a lot from the human but everything and everybody has their limits! Cheap, non-fitting saddles are, and always have been, the crux of the problem that has encouraged the use of a breeching to solve the problem, that my friends IS NOT THE CORRECT answer. And YES, I too went
through a tremendous curve of “learning” over the years to understand and learn about all of this, so I willingly put it out there for your advantage IF you so choose! Happy and SAFE trails!
Saddle pads- Saddle fit using pads -- Let’s shed some light on saddle pads and their uses. The following is derived from my years of experience, including years before all the bells and whistles pads came out!
First and foremost a saddle pad’s primary use is to wick moisture off an animal’s back and keep it from saturating your woolskin and/or leather of your saddle, not a “fix” for a poorly fitting saddle. This wicking provides a cooling as well as a balanced moisture content between the gear and the hide of your partner. You all know what incorrect socks can do to your feet in a pair of boots when hiking in rough country, make your feet sore and tender and create blisters etc. Hence the use of a wool pad or a combination of materials in a pad that will wick moisture and create evaporative properties to happen and take place between your equines hide and your gear.
Over the years one of the biggest misconceptions has been “if your animal is getting a sore back” to double pad. Fine and dandy, if it takes an hour to develop that sore back, by double padding you may improve that condition to 2 hours. And yes – if you’re in a branding or roping situation it can be beneficial to have a wool pad topped by a quality wool felt pad to absorb the IMPACT, not make up for a poor fit. Here comes all the what I call “Gimmick pads,” made from synthetic products including rubbers and foams. Impact gels in strategic areas etc. Shims ( shims are designed to eliminate other problems) to help a poor fit of a saddle to be allowed to be used, usually all to no avail if the animal is “used” very much at all. Many pads are discipline specific, thus leading one to believe that it will solve their issues in that particular discipline! Does it really, maybe so for a while but usually the issues rear their ugly head somewhere down the road, then it’s on to another “fix it all” pad. All this is said to let one think about this and maybe realize you have been in the same boat. Now, maybe 1,000 dollars (or more) later you look at the real cause of the problem, your 500 -2800-dollar saddle that fits you somewhat or is for your particular use but DOES NOT FIT YOUR HORSE OR MULE! Now that can also mean that $6,000 saddle, if the bars are not designed for what you are riding and doing! An example would be to have a cutting saddle that you cut in but you want to use it on an 8 hour gather of cattle, not a smart thing to do and if you research how different trees are made for different venues you will understand the differences.
All the above is to shed light on the thought process, and to make one think about the welfare of your partner, what they may be suffering all due to a lack of understanding of the saddle pad! I have been through a lot of pads over the years and have seen the pros and cons of them all. 50 plus years ago all that was used was a real woolskin pad under a leather bottomed saddle or on a western setup just a wool Navaho between the skirts/woolskins and your partner. Why – because saddles were made to fit an animal in a working body condition. Also there was not the conformation qualities that have come from all the interbreeding etc. to
get aesthetic qualities in the different breeds. The equine “industry” saw that they could make more money off of folks by offering “custom” fitting of trees to somebody’s fat “fluffy” instead of educating those folks to condition their animal before settling on a saddle tree. So, the market, and the hype, took off and became a very lucrative business, all at the expense of the animal and its owner’s lack of knowledge. ( “That saddle was made for my horse/mule but after riding her / him a lot lately I now have a sore animal”) If an experienced horseman is consulted, they look at your animal, then they can guide you to a saddle that will be a very close fit. They will tell you to ride that animal into a leaner, muscled, conditioned animal that, at that point, a true fit can be gained. Now yes, there are some out there that when in good working condition will still need a “fitted” tree. No disputes there as I have experienced that scenario. (The above derived from a lengthy conversation with Dale Harwood years ago and it holds true today).
Over the years and thousands of dollars spent I really got a hold of conformation and saddle fit. When I was training a lot of animals at one time I had a tack room full of different saddles and pads trying to achieve a reasonable fit that would not sore the animal in use. It was a nasty expensive battle. Mature animals were
easier to fit and mules were almost impossible. One could get close with a saddle on a mule but usually one had to have gear such as breechings and collars to make that “close” saddle work. The troubles with mule saddle fit is what led to this bar configuration that Rockin’ L Mule saddles are built on. Back to the pads
and saddles- as I was training I had a lot of young animals and as anyone with any knowledge at all knows, they are constantly growing and changing up until 6-7 years old (average). I was exposed to Len Brown’s- The Corrector pad, and talked with Len about it. (Go to for more info on these pads). He enlightened me on all his struggles over the years and explained why he developed this pad and the benefits of it. An example that I will use is this, it has good wicking abilities in the envelope pad itself. The” inner “pad incorporates flex plates that disperse pressure which is a plus and it has felt shims that allow one to “level” a saddle on the youngsters or oldsters back. This was a plus as many colts, horse and mule are growing and can be wither high when they come in and 3 weeks later be butt high as they grow. This pad gave me the ability to level the saddle seat and create a comfortable “fit” on that back, it also gave the ability to “shim” a saddle that fit reasonably well but might be a hair too wide to be able to work on that animal (actually working in conjunction with “leveling”) until that animal filled out. I went from 8 saddles down to two and NEVER had any soreness issues after that (on horses- mules were a battle to fit and not get sore no matter what) . Had great sweat patterns and a willing animal under me, that was 11 years ago and I still use them. My old mule rides under one with no shims at all with our saddle, he can also be ridden in just a wool blanket with no problems. I elect to use the corrector as I really like the concept of the dispersion of the bar weight it gives. My young mule rides one with a set of shims in the front as he is still filling behind the withers and this allows the saddle seat to be level on him, not down about a 1/4” in the front. As he fills and matures those will not be needed. These pads do a great job if one does not use the synthetic wool on the main pad, not that it does not work but I’ve noticed that the synthetic creates a little more heat, so I spend the extra and get real woolskin on it. Yes, you will spend $400 or a little more, but that pad will last and last! Yes, it can make a slightly poor fitting saddle fit and work well but it CANNOT and WILL NOT fix a saddle that is way off base in fit. Pressure is pressure and if a tree is not fairly close to where it is supposed to be you have a sore animal coming.
Once again, we are back to saddle tree fit. Just a note of misconception I have run into, some believe that if you find a tree that fits well naked you should add about 1/4” to 3/8” width because the leather and woolskins will make the saddle “too tight.” WRONG answer! Pressure is downward and that saddle may be lifted a touch but the pressure is still going down. When you widen, thinking you are helping, you are actually creating pressure in the WRONG places and making a problem. Enough on that!
Cinches- well as you can now guess I have been through a bunch of those too and other than a full leather on English gear I am back to a good quality Mohair or Mohair mix cinch. The only “mix” cinch I endorse are Dennis Moreland’s cinches as they do not continue to stretch like 100% Mohair will if used in stressed conditions such as dragging heavies at a branding. They are a really nice thick cinch and do a great job. Otherwise I prefer Weaver’s Smart Cinch as they hold up really well and are really easy on that last on side pull. Rockin' L has handmade double stranded Mohair cinches in stock and they are all I use on my personal stock.
On pads and cinches that are neoprene, felt mix, air ride, will do this or that types – beware! There are some really nice contoured pads out there of felt or felt mix that I would not promote as they are not easy to get clean and are, to me, a germ plant, all you have to do is use them a lot and smell them, pressure wash or whatever and they still stink, not good in my book. Rubbers, neoprene’s, gel’s inside synthetics etc. I will not use or endorse. They are heat monsters and do not hold up as claimed. Sure – if you want to buy a new one periodically they may work for you. I, however, choose to spend money once and take the time to maintain the gear in order to have it last 10-15 years. A $400 pad divided into 10 years is $40/year, a lot cheaper than $200 plus every year or two in the long run.
All of the above is based on years of trial and error and is what I have found to be true and work for me. Yes- I do use my animals a lot more than most and have been around them all my life in one way or another, draft and saddle animals. I have been involved with some really great people of knowledge on these subjects
and took all they could give me to heart, even tried my own stuff all to end up back with their wisdom induced solutions to it all. The Keep It Simple Stupid holds true, stay away from the sales artists and dig out information from long-timers who have been there and done that successfully. There ARE a lot of long-timers who do not know also-so beware as you seek info, do not try to take 6 different recipes to make an awesome Dutch oven meal, it won’t work! Find someone you trust and shows you with validity the things they have learned and get that down pat first, then move on, developing your own “toolbox” full of knowledge through your trials and errors. Happy Trails and I sure hope this was of value to you!
My tack is of a versatile nature, usable on both horses and mules. Not that I can't or won't make a piece the way you want! I also do any and all repairs to saddles, packsaddles, packing gear, leggings, bags, holsters, scabbards, halters, horse blankets ... basically all things that are equine related whether they are made of leather, canvas or webbing!
Horse & Mule Tack –
All tack is produced by hand and only Herman Oak Leather of a good quality is used. Most all hardware is going to be stainless steel unless it cannot be found for that particular application. Then a quality substitute in nickel, chrome over brass or brass will be used. Any high stress areas are not compromised by using a questionable piece of leather, any doubt and it will be saved for another use. Everything has a failing point and I try my best to have strong, safe gear for my customer, not meaning you can abuse and neglect it, but you can use it and it will hold up under occasional stressing in "bad" situations!
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Custom Leather Goods
If it's made of leather, I most likely can build it for you. I make gun scabbards, holsters, shoulder rigs, chaps, chinks, belts, gun belts, cartridge belts, knife sheaths cell phone cases and almost anything you want done a certain way.
Feel free to contact me and tell me what you want. I will do my best to make you that custom one-of-a-kind treasure!
Take a look through the gallery to see the many custom items I have made for clients all over the USA!
This section is designed for you to ENJOY!
I will be posting pictures and a short explanation of where I've been, what I've been doing, and maybe even why I was doing it! My life is full of riding, camping, ranch work and shop work...mostly in that order! This will be an ongoing page showing the history of my events. Below, you will find a referral page of friends and acquaintances to help you find that horse, a mule, or an event you may want to attend.
Come back often to stay "In the know!"
I Really Like These Folks!
(Click the name to open link)
♦ Milam Mules - Matching Good Minded Mules to Owners
♦ Country Homestead - Artisan Hand Crafted Goat Milk Soaps
That's what Broken Circle Border Collies is all about.
As I've have lived them!
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Gila National Monument Ride with Mules of New Mexico
N Bar Ranch and TJ's Equine Affairs
A Ride in My Backyard
Vacation in Texas
I have had the privilege to work with many wonderful people in the equine world. Take some time to see what they have to say about the saddles I build and the products I make. Feel free to connect with those who have given me permission to put their contact information with their testimonials.
I want you to hear from others, I'm not into tooting my own horn, but I do feel I have a lot of value to offer.
Chris Hostetler- March 2016
“I’ve trained mules a great many years and when I found a true M1913 mule saddle I was training anywhere from 12-15 at any given time. This saddle fit every mule I put it on and stayed put on them. All the years previous to that I had struggled with saddle fit, bought a lot of “mule saddles” that were supposed to fit any mule and they did not! I had to use breechings and collars kept tight on level ground to keep the saddle in place. When I got the M1913 cavalry saddle it worked very well and could be used in rough, steep country here in N.M., I would use a pulling collar kept slack as going up very steep spots any saddle wants to work back some, rode a crupper only and never had it even get really tight in steep ascents. The downfall was the small seat and the stirrups did not allow for good forward ability that is needed riding in really rugged country on the mules, however it did fit and did not make the mules sore. I tried for a long time to get saddle makers to listen to me and develop a saddle that was more comfortable for the rider but using the M1913 bars in the tree configuration-no luck, they all had their own agenda and were not interested. When Trevor came to Datil and was doing some leather work and repair in my garage I talked with him about this and gave him an old warped M1913 I had to strip and look at. We talked and he had some ideas on how we could get good forward hung stirrup leathers in place and then he did the legwork to find a tree company that would help in the process of getting this saddle into a reality. I have hundreds of hours in mine and I am here to tell you it is the best riding mule saddle I have ever had-totally comfortable for my mules and for me. I was amazed at how even brand new it was very easy to pull 6-8 hours in it traveling the mountains looking for elk sheds. You all need to pay attention and realize that this saddle is the answer. It can be made any way you want on the mule bars and can be used in ranch work, packing, hunting or just general riding. It ends the issues of fit and eliminates all the breeching, breast collar, padding issues that you are fighting!”
Tova Orr- April 2016
“I went to the Gila Ride with Trevor and his horse to enjoy the weekend and see the country. As we had only the one animal we were going to alternate days riding. However, the first day a fellow rider had a spare mule that was not being used and invited me to ride that mule that day, so I graciously accepted. It was a pretty good trek of about 12-15 miles and I’m here to tell you that saddle was pretty darn uncomfortable, it put a lot of pressure on my knees and ankles and was not comfortable to ride in, I kind of kept hunting the seat pocket but it was not there! The next day I stayed in camp and got over the soreness of that journey. The third day I rode Trevor’s horse out who has a saddle rigged like the mule saddles he is building but of course on horse bars, no sore knees or ankles and there was a real seat pocket that was comfortable. What I’m saying is that with the close, in skirt, rawhide reinforced rigging and the forward stirrup setting, along with a good ground seat I rode all day and was no worse for the wear. Trevor had been telling me how comfortable it was but until I went out I had no idea. So-I’m here to tell you that the setup he uses on these mule saddles works and made me a believer. I also got to ride with Mr. Hostetler and could not see any problems, cinch was loose and he could step on and off his mule with no saddle roll whatsoever!”
Trevor Lent - June 2016
Owner of Rockin’ L Saddlery who makes the Rockin’ L Mule Saddles
“I just got a mule, I have been without one for some years and got a great mule opportunity and could not pass it up. As I had a 15” mule saddle I had built I put it on this mule and took off. New mule so I did not pay much mind to the saddle for the first 3⁄4 mile and then as I could see this mule was really good I took note of the saddle. What a nice ride, it felt good, was comfortable and sat really well. I rode about 4 hours that day and could hardly believe how easy it was to ride, got on and off several times and no saddle roll. Now remember this is brand new and not even settled down yet. I never reset the cinch or anything, got home and I could literally pull the front cinch off the mule with one finger two inches. Awesome mule saddle. If you have read through my website on the mule saddles information you will know that this is not my first go round with saddle fit on mules!”
UPDATE- June 29, 2016
“I now have over 160, yes 160 hours in this saddle in 3 weeks and it works. No flatland rider here, I ride the rough and rugged to get to the high lonesome and am constantly in rough country, up and down all day when I go out. No sores on my mule or me, use only a pulling collar and run a crupper but have found it comes into play very little. I do not have to suck my mule in two with the front cinch, it stays rather loose and everything stays put and what a free moving mule! I’m here to tell you once again that the saddle is the deal, not a sales pitch just the truth.”
Trevor Lent - A Tale Recited to Me June 22, 2016
Owner of Rockin’ L Saddlery who makes the Rockin’ L Mule Saddles
“A friend of mine just came back from Jake Clark’s Mule sale in Ralston, WY and told me this story. He went up with a friend of his, who I know, and this man carried several mules to the sale. Well my friend carried his Rockin’ L mule saddle with him to show folks. Upon getting there he rode this one mule of his buddies (who said the mule was a little touchy after saddling until you got him going) for several days with this mule saddle. The mule was great and did really well, no issues, no touchy mule, his buddy even rode in the saddle and after adjusting the stirrups had to admit it was comfortable. The day of the sale this guy wanted to put his saddle on this mule to ride it in the sale, well he did and when he stepped up on his mule it went to carrying on and hopping around, then got it together and went on. My friend said he told this guy “See-I told you your saddle is the issue; it is not the mule! Hmmm! Just thought you all might want to hear that tale as it really happened and just goes to show that the proof is in the pudding!”
Juliana Ladenburg - July 18, 2017
Rockin' L Saddlery is truly amazing! I am so thankful that I found them and now have an incredible saddle! My mule would pull back, dance around, and have an overall bad attitude when bridling and saddling. Everyone would say it was behavioral and try to offer tips on forcing her to stand through it. I knew there was more to it. She was telling me something. Unfortunately, I went through 3 so-called "mule" saddles before finally committing to buying a saddle from Rockin' L. Yes, they cost more than most generic "mule" saddles out there, but you're paying for hand-built quality and a saddle that truly fits a mule. This saddle will last a lifetime, and then some. And your animal will thank you! Within a few times of saddling my mule with this new saddle, her
behavior began to change. She wasn't telling me "ouch" anymore. She now stands completely still to both saddle, and bridle. I knew it wasn't behavior, and I wasn't going to force her to deal with it. She now feels free and moves beautifully with my new saddle. I've ridden a lot of different saddles, both horse and mule, and I can
honestly say that in this saddle, I feel the closest contact to my animal other than riding bare back. Not only did I buy an incredible saddle, but I have learned more through this journey than in a lifetime of riding. Trevor Lent is one of the most knowledgeable horsemen out there, and he is truly willing to share his knowledge if you're willing to learn. He genuinely cares and has spent countless hours above and beyond building my saddle, answering questions, sending emails, hour phone conversations, writing out specific instructions to introducing it to my sensitive mule, looking at pictures, watching videos, and so on. Rockin' L Saddlery is the best out there! Thank you for all your help, building a beautiful saddle, and helping my mule finally feel good! God bless you!
Annie Pazero, Dow, IL
“A Special thanks to Trevor Lent for making a awesome mule saddle. I had bought my first mule and went through several saddles. Made her sore. Was going to sell her because I couldn’t get the right saddle. That would have been a huge mistake because she is a wonderful mule. Then I found Trevor Lent. He is very knowledgeable and honest! Now I’m buying a second saddle from him. His saddles are the best and great quality craftsmanship!”