|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.