Friday, October 28, 2016

The Rear Cinch

by Capt. Joe Vaclavik, Chicago, Illinois 
The rear cinch, also known as the rear flank strap, rear girth, or back cinch is found on all western saddles.  It's there for specific purposes!  The use of a front and rear cinch is known as a "double rig."
The western saddle has either reinforced leather slits on the rear section of the saddle skirt or "D" rings.  Attached to these are billets.  Billets are short leather or nylon straps that have punched holes.  The leather cinch has buckles on both ends that fasten to the billets. 
The rear cinch needs to be snug against the mule and fastened to the front cinch with a short strap or hobble to prevent the rear cinch from shifting backward.  If the cinch happened to slide to the back flank of the mule it could cause your mule to go "western," i.e. buck!
The rear cinch should only be snugged up after the front one is tightened.
This important strap is especially critical when roping livestock. It prevents the saddle from tipping forward and keeping the saddle flat on the mules back as forward pressure is  applied on a saddle horn by a dallied rope.  
The rear cinch also provides a secure saddle for the trail rider as it prevents the saddle from rocking back and forth as the rider covers rough terrain, it also helps prevent lateral movement of the saddle.  A secure saddle gives the rider a firm seat and the mule better balance because the rider is sitting square.
During a ride, the wrangler needs to re-examine both the front and rear cinch. As the day progresses the cinches loosen as the mule sweats and loses body bloat.
I've seen many people riding with loose rear cinches hanging several inches or more. This is an invitation for disaster.  A mule could easily hook a rear hoof in the cinch and by "brush hopping" off a groomed trail, the probability of a branch slipping between the underside of your mule and the cinch is high.    

Whenever around your mount, always use "good old" common sense. Both on the ground and in the saddle. Don't become complacent, don't treat your mule as you would treat your dog. Be vigilant, you’re around an incredible powerful animal with flight instincts!  You'll inevitable get hurt if you treat your mule as your baby!

- From the October 2016 Issue of Mules and More

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Time to Make Your 2016 Christmas Wish List!

Festus, owned by BETSY SKINNER, dressed up for Christmas 

Whether you are making your of wish list of what you hope is under the tree on December 25th, or shopping for your friends and family,  use this list to start getting ready for Christmas!

-Last Minute Gifts

Queen Valley Mule Ranch Instructional Video Streaming
Stream many of Steve Edward’s instructional DVDs right from your computer. Watch on your computer or personal electronic devise (like a Youtube video). Titles include, Why Does My Mule Do That?, Communicating from the Lines, So You Want to Buy a Mule? and Trailer Loading

The Mischka Press Calendars and Books
Mischka Press calendars and books make wonderful, long lasting gifts your loved ones will treasure all year long. We offer Mule, Donkey, Draft Horse and Driving Horse wall calendars, as well as an Appointment Calendar and small, standup Desk Calendar. All of these include quantity discounts and free shipping. Send us your gift list, and we’ll send calendars directly to your giftees — the free shipping and discounts still apply! See our calendars, books and DVDs online or ask for a free catalog. 1-877-647-2452 

-Gifts for Little Ones

Jasper the Mule
Give the gift of reading and laughter with Jasper the Mule adventure collections. Choose from the Reading Bundle, Movie Bundle, the Complete Collection or individual books and DVDs. Free shipping on collections!, (800)816-7566

-Mulemanship Gifts

Ty Evans Mulemanship Ground Work Basics DVD 
Ty Evans of TS Mules, Chester, Utah, has spent most of his life riding and training mules, and perfecting his methods. Ty was the winner of the 2015 American Mule Trainers Challenge, and his methods are based off of “feel” and “timing,” which can produce great results in the mules he works with. Ty travels the U.S. teaching mulemanship clinics and is willing to share his knowledge and insight with anyone who desires to listen. In this DVD Ty covers the basics of ground work; these exercises are critical elements of a mule’s foundation. DVD includes Hooking-on to you, Halter Driving, Gaining Confidence through desensitizing, Handling a saddle for the first time and Ground Driving. $35.00, (801)598-7465 or 573-646-3934 or

Brad Cameron Mule Training DVDs
Learn from the best! A great do it yourself, learn at home tool, for that hard to buy for mule rider. By Cameron Mule Company of Corvallis, Mont. • $149.95 plus s/h • 406-369-5190 or

Teaching Your Mule To Lie Down
This is an easy four-step instruction on how to teach your mule or horse to lie down to mount and dismount. No harsh methods used, just pressure and release. “Anyone can do this!” says instructor Dave Recker. “I have had numerous professional trainers as well as hundreds of amateurs use this method with great success.” $44.95 (shipping included) To order:, (573)881-0324

Lucky Three Ranch
Give you and your equine the gift of a harmonious and rewarding partnership with training packages for every level from Meredith Hodges and Lucky Three Ranch. Free shipping on all training packages!, (800)816-7566

-For the Book Lover 

SMOKE the Donkey 
A Marine’s Unlikely Friend by Cate Folsom – Smoke the Donkey is a story about two American heroes and their surprising friendship---‘Semper Fidelis’ at its finest. Smoke steals all of the hearts of everyone. Smoke served as mascot, ambassador, and battle buddy on a U.S. military base near Fallujah in war-torn Iraq. Hardback. $24.99 plus s/h 573-646-3934 or

-For the Traveler

Nationwide Overnight Stabling Directory and Equestrian 
Vacation Guide, (Volume 28)  A great guide/directory if you are planning on traveling with your mule; very easy to use. 192 pages. $26.95. 573-646-3934 or

-Gifts for the Tack Room

Leather Cavesson/Nose Band with adjustable hanger and adjustment around the nose. The one-earred head stall adjust to fit mules nicely.
Contact The Rein Maker Sandy Boaz at (270)365-7899 (shop). (270)836-9762 (cell), or by email at

Swiss Grazing Bells & Bell Collars
Long range Swiss made grazing bells are the loudest and clearest bells on the market, making them a must for all backcountry grazing. Perfect gift for new trail riders, and a much appreciated upgrade for those that use standard cow bells. Bells and bell collars sold separately. (406)752-4437,

 As a Saddlemaker & Treemaker I know the key element  to making a saddle work is keeping it in position where it was made to be used. The Never-Tight Crupper allows 10” of adjustment. Each inch = 5lbs of tension. I set it at 15lbs and let the tuck of the hindquarters add the rest. No rubbing from a loose crupper, no hit on the tail. IT WORKS! Len Brown,  816-625-0333

Donkey Whisperer
 Celebrate your donkey this holiday season with a custom made donkey rope halter and matching lead line!  Our rope halters and lead lines are made of thick, durable, high quality yacht rope and come in Mammoth, Standard and Miniature sizes. Fantastic for training or daily use. Made in the USA in 11 gorgeous colors.  Life time warranty!  Visit Donkey Whisperer and our online store at or contact us at

2RMules Easy On Headstall
2RMules is the place to shop for all your mule needs. Our heart is to sell you quality products for a reasonable price.  2RMules Easy On Headstall has a brass “easy snap” for mules or horses with sensitive ears. The brow band measures 16 inches and it is 48 inches bit to bit. The snaps are turned so they will not catch on limbs or other brush. This headstall is made with Hermann Oak harness leather for a real strong yet soft feel, and is available in our harness leather colors. Made in the USA! $64.00 (479)670-2144

-Gifts for the Cowboys & Cowgirls

The Ericksen Mountain Saddle
Handmade from Hermann Oak skirting leather.  This saddle features braided rawhide on the horn and swells laced to match, a rawhide cantle binding, and the slots in the cantle are lined with rawhide as well.  It’s durable and looks good.  (406) 682-7380

Handmade Stock Whips
What Cowboy wouldn’t like a Handmade Stock Whip for Christmas? These handmade stock whips are made of weatherproof waxed nylon with hardwood handles. They come in several colors and are extremely loud. How about your little Cowboy? Bet he would be so excited to find a 5 foot whip under his Christmas tree! Scotty also makes 6 foot, or longer, whips upon request. Give him a call at (870) 816-5746

Sugar Creek Graphics
Printed t-shirts and sweatshirts. Over 60 prints of mules, donkeys and draft horses. T-shirt sizes: small-5XL, sweatshirt sizes: small-3XL. All sizes same low price, no up charge for larger shirts. Your choice of 13 colors of t-shirts. (877)242-4449

JC’s Cow Horn Buckles
Hand made buckles of cow horn. Each is unique.  No two are alike. They can be personalized with brand or initials. Prices range from $120-$220 580-761-8235

Reed’s Custom Cowboy Knives
Handmade knives available in 6”, 7”, or 8.5”. All knives are made from M2 Toolsteel and natural materials, unless otherwise requested. Handle options include: Walnut, Cow Horn, Elk Antler, Deer Antler, Cow Bone. Knive Sheaths available,  with belt clip and brand. (918)625-7260 or

Silver & Brass Mule Head Conchos 
Available in all silver or silver with brass mule head and dots. 1-1/2 inches in diameter. These antiqued silver conchos come with an antiqued silver mule head. 
The conchos come with a Chicago screw in the back.  Great for decorating bridles, belts, purses, cell phone holders, dog collars, and many other items. $7.00 each 573-646-3934 or


Mules and More Gift Subscriptions - A gift subscription to Mules and More is a great gift that can be enjoyed all year long! If indicated, we will send a gift card (via mail or email) to the recipient free of charge, too.1 Year - $36          2 Years - $65      Include $5.50 for any back issuesAvailable online at By phone at (573)646-3934. Or mail form to Mules and More, PO Box 460, Bland MO 65014