Finding gear to fit donkeys is really tricky. Their backs and ribs just aren’t shaped like horses’. They have very straight and usually (if they aren’t fat) narrow backs with very little “rock” or sway. Donkeys can get very sore and irritable if their equipment does not fit.
We have bought our donkeys Steve Edwards Queen Valley Mule Ranch pack saddles. They are sawbucks but they do not look conventional. They are fairly lightweight and very adjustable! The bars can actually move with the animal’s sides, which allows them to breathe and move more freely. We also have bought Pack pads and Arizona Cinches from Steve Edwards. The Arizona Cinches can adjust from under the animals, making it so that we do not have to unpack them to tighten the cinch!!! Pretty cool, huh?
We have placed the saddles on all three of our donkey’s backs just to acquaint the donkeys to this new and brightly colored creature that will be their buddy for a few months nearly every day.
The pack saddles do need to be manually adjusted at the top of the sawbuck. They both seem to be adjusted well for Charlie and Raymond, however Darlin has packed on some winter poundage and needs hers widened for best effect. The pack pads have spine relief and are padded extra along the bars and ribs to lessen rubbing and tight spots while packing.
Here is what the saddles look like on the donkeys, bare. Note that Charlie and Raymond BOTH wanted to take the saddles off each other.
In the last picture, Raymond is wearing the saddle and you can see how differently it sits on his back. We may have some adjusting to do there depending on how the pad affects it.
Here is the saddle with pad on Charlie. He is wearing the Arizona Cinch however it needs more holes to tighten on his little tiny girth area. That is our plan for tomorrow:
Here are views from the front and rear of the saddle sit on Charlie with the pad:
Next: Adjust saddles for each donkey, put holes in the Arizona Cinch, get britchen and breastcollar attached, and then…..panniers!!!