We all use it. We all talk about it. We all have rooms filled with tack that we no longer use and catalogs full of tack weíd like to try.  The real purpose of tack is to allow us to ride our mules and control the ride. There are many riding styles and many types of tack. Whatever your choice of riding style or tack, there are common concerns.
  • First, does the tack fit the mule properly? You canít expect a mule to perform either in the show ring, on the trail or on the job if tack doesnít fit properly. There is no substitution or quick fix that will make a poorly fitting saddle OK in the muleís mind. Itís pretty simple to you - either the new boots fit or they hurt! Your mule is the same way. Tack that doesnít fit or isnít adjusted properly not only isnít effective, it can be abusive. The articles in this issue should help you when it comes to fitting tack to your mule. If your mule is comfortable, heíll be happy and a happy mule is what you want to get any job done.
  • Second, the purpose and use of tack needs to be understood in order for the rider to establish the desired control. We all want to establish that control, although I like to call it communication. In order for us to do that, we need to be sure we arenít using tack that is sending the exact opposite message than we want to convey to the mule.
  • Third, the comfort and safety of the rider is to be considered. None of us will stick to riding if we arenít comfortable. Not all tack will fit all riders. Not all tack is safe for certain activities.
  • Fourth, establishing control and using tack correctly is directly proportional to the talent and expertise of the rider. Better riders get better results. In order to get the most from the tack used, it requires that we improve our skills as riders before our mules can improve. In fact, the better the rider, the less gimmicks he or she will employ. On the other hand, novice riders can take a mild piece of tack and convert it into an instrument of torture through ignorance. All riders, whether experienced or novice, will benefit from learning as much as possible about the equipment we use. Our mules, however, will be the real beneficiaries.
  • Fifth, tack is expensive. The more we know about tack, the less money we waste. While much is invested in tack, it neednít be more than necessary. It is important to know when bargains are bargains and when they are gimmicks.
  • Lastly, the more we know about tack and styles of riding, the more our horizons are opened to allow us and our mules to be more versatile. We canít grow if we wonít look at things differently. We canít prove to the public how really versatile the saddle mule can be if we get stuck in a rut. Whether you ever wear the tight breeches and high boots of Huntseat or the roweled spurs of gymkhana, you can still benefit from the knowledge of these styles of riding. It could open up a whole new world for both you and your mule.