Donkey Saddle

Looking for a donkey saddle that will actually fit a standard donkey? One your donkey will move out in nicely and be comfortable in? I was too… for years! Then I read an article from a fellow donkey rider about riding in vintage McClellan saddles.
I am not a saddle fitting expert. I just really love my donkeys and try to pay attention to how they act in different saddles and tack. This article is based on experience training and riding primarily standard donkeys. 13hh – 13.3 is my choice riding donkey height and so long as I can maintain my weight, it probably always will be!

There is No one size fits all Donkey Saddle

The Vintage McClellan saddle is not a donkey saddle, not a gaited saddle, not a mule saddle, not any breed in particular. It was designed for horses that were smaller and much thinner than the equine of today, though, and designed for a smaller man than most men of today. 
This is why it fits most standard donkeys and smaller adult riders. (I’d say fits most riders comfortably, that weight is under 150 pounds)

Is Your Donkey Comfortable? Are You?

There is no one size fits all of anything for equine or rider. The rest of the tack.. cinches,, bridles, etc.. matter too!

And how you rig it all matters … for the comfort of the donkey and the stability of it.
Then the last thing I worry about is my comfort.. that’s usually the easiest thing to fix!
One of the most FAQ I get… seriously.. all the time!!!
” What kind of saddle is that?”
💕Me: “vintage McClellan. I have 5 of them.” 🤗
🤔”why do you ride in a McClellan?”
💕Me: “Cause it fits my donkeys” 😁🥰
😠”ugh but I heard the seat is hard?”…. 🤦‍♀️
💕Me: “well, I add a little thing called a seat saver or seat cushion and then I enjoy a nice ride because my donkey is comfy in his tack… it’s not really ALL about me here… after all, he is the one carrying my ass around!” 
so… I guess you could say I’m very concerned with the comfort of my ass… just not only my ass! 😆
Jasper taught me a valuable lesson about listening to my donkey in tack. If Jasper likes his tack, he moves out nicely… if he doesn’t, he balks! Now if I whipped him, spurred him and had the attitude of ‘your MY donkey, so do what I say right now’ as in traditional equine training mindset, I would miss that he’s just trying to tell me he’s uncomfortable.
For the riders’ comfort, as mentioned, there are seat savers, different stirrups (I usually refer irons), different reins and so on! So much can be adjusted for the rider!

Trying out saddles for riding donkeys

I’ve had the privilege of being able to try out MANY saddles on my standard riding donkeys. Few standard donkeys are built wide. Most are built with a ridged, narrow, flat back. Hard to fit in a modern horse or even a mule saddle since many mules have wide quarter horse or draft mothers, most mules tend to be on the wider side these days. The exception would be a gaited mule since a lot of gaited horses are narrow and large spotted standard donkeys are often used for breeding to gaited horses in my area.

Alot of people think a mule saddle will fit a donkey but I’ve never had a mule saddle fit my standard donkeys. I’ve had some small seat, older semi-quarter bar saddles, other vintage saddles and some paso fino saddles fit them. Never a mule saddle, although they do seem to fit the larger, wider mammoths ok.

I’m talking about standards here because that is what I prefer to ride. 

Yes, I’ve spent A LOT of money on saddles that did not fit. Even if they seemed to fit, I let the donkey have the final say. I’ve compared how they move out and ride in many different saddles. They consistently move out well in McClellans. 

Keep in mind, rigging properly is everything though! I have a video in my Donkey Training Membership group on rigging a McClellan so it stays put! When my McClellans are rigged proper, I don’t even need a breeching! They don’t slide to the side when I mount and they don’t slide forward on hills. I still use custom donkey saddle breeching or saddle crupper on public trails, just in case though! 

McClellan Saddles are not for everyone

The McClellan is NOT for everyone.. nor is it for every donkey… as stated before, there is no one size fits all when it comes to saddles!!!
but so far it’s what I ride in to get the best movement from my guys… that speaks volumes me.
🌼The saddles are actually not uncomfortable to me.. the seat saver is good for long rides!! You can order a seat saver designed specially for a McClellan from my shop here: Custom Made Fleece Seat Cushion for McClellan
If you are a larger person, a McClellan might not work out for you. In fact, if you are a larger person, not height wise, but weight wise, you might need to be riding a bigger donkey anyway. Check out my article on donkeys and how much they can carry here: Can You Ride a Donkey? {How much weight can a donkey carry?}

More things I love about my standard Donkey Saddle of Choice for Standards!

♥️it’s very close contact (I like!!)
♥️Extremely lightweight (me and the donkey likes)
♥️ It doesn’t slide all over the place, nor do I have to tighten the cinches that tight… once I rigged it up proper .. yay!🥰

Want more ideas, inspiration and tested tried-and-true donkey tips from someone who lives and breathes donkeys?

Just my Donkey Lovers List.. the DLL!

I want ALL donkeys to have a great home… for that to happen, people need to be successful with their donkeys in training and care. It’s important to me I help others with donkeys. Well trained donkeys that enjoy activities with their owners bring much happiness!!!