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Horse Harness: Types & Variations

Horse Harness Types & Variations

Unlike other important equipment for horse riding, a harness may not consist of that many types as per their names. However, if you need to attach your horse to the carriage, your harness will be the basic requirement. Thus, in this blog, we’ll discuss before you the main components, parts, and variations of a harness.

What’s the importance of a horse harness?

Horse Harness

As we know, a harness is a device that connects the horse with another vehicle that pulls the load. We are not saying there will be a requirement to attach your horse with the carriage in all conditions, yet if it’s so, then using a harness is the best option. Likewise, many variations of a horse harness depend upon the load.

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There are generally two categories of horse harnesses, it includes –

Categories of Horse Harnesses

  1. Breast strap (or breast collar) Design
  2. Collar and Hames Design

Both these categories work differently for the amount of load that the horse has to pull. For example, if you have to ride a horse that is lightweight, you can purposely use a breast collar design harness. Due to its functioning and design, it puts pressure on the horse’s sternum near the windpipe. Furthermore, you must not use a heavy load with this form of harness, for it’s not safe for the animal.

On the other hand, using a collar and hames design will help the horse pull heavyweight, putting pressure on the horse’s shoulder. More so, using this form of harness will not restrict the air supply of the animal. Also, ensure you do not use any type of harness used for other animals, as it may not work effectively.

Part of a Horse Harness

Part of a Horse Harness

While using any type of horse riding equipment, it’s essential to know about its various parts. Moreover, you can use it well and without any issue knowing where to attach the pieces!

Here is the list of various parts of a horse harness –

  • Collar – This part of the harness is placed close to the horse’s neck, shoulder, and chest. There are basically two types of the collar in horse harnesses, they include –
    1. Horse collar – As the name suggests, it’s a padded loop that fits loosely around the horse’s neck. It points at the crest of the horse’s neck and is useful in heavier load pulling.
    2. Breast collar – These are padded straps that run down the horse’s chest area at each side. Moreover, they are helpful in pulling light weights on the carriage.
  • Hames – Hames is the two metal (or wooden) strips that help take the padded collar’s full force. Likewise, they are attachable in a full collar, with the others not in practice.
  • Breeching – These straps sit around the horse’s haunches and help slow down the horse’s speed. The purpose of these parts is to slow down the vehicle from its actual speed. In addition, fine harnesses and carts with brakes may not require the use of breeching in their harness.
  • Girth – These straps go around the horse’s girth and help tie the harness with the saddle.
    Traces – It helps to take the load from the breast collar or the harness onto the load through the medium of chains or straps.

These are some of the main elements that constitute the complete horse harness. Apart from these, there can be some additional parts, including a belly band, back band, fixed back band, crupper, terrets, and others.

See More: Horse Harness Parts

Various types of Horse Harness

Types of Horse Harness

There are some popular types of horse harnesses for the convenience of different riding styles and attaching carriages to the horse.

They are as follows –

  • Show Harness – These are useful for driving light carts with the help of a breast collar. The look of these harnesses is refined with leather and mostly comes in black (highly polished) color.
  • Carriage Harness – They, too, carry light weights but are strong in pulling passengers with light loads and buggies. In this, the harness may consist of a horse collar or a breast collar depending upon the weight.
  • Plow Harness – As the name suggests, these harnesses are helpful in dragging loads in plows, harrows, canal boats, and logs. In addition, they may not have breeching that helps in pulling the animal.
  • Racing Harness – These are somewhat similar to a show harness and come with a breast collar harness. Here, the horses are attached to a lightweight cart and incorporate the rider’s instructions. Hence, they are helpful in riding disciplines.

History of Horse Harness

While looking back on ancient times, only a few harnesses were put into use. To look closely, the throat-girth harness was mainly put on the horses to pull carts. On the other hand, this set a major outlook on using horses where the whole pressure wasn’t on their back. As a result, it excluded the part where the horses might face constant pressure on their neck and shoulders.

There’s a painting of a horse with a harness on a lacquerware box from the State of Chu that dates back to the 4th century. That’s the first image that shows the use of a chest harness from such an old time. Gradually, as people shifted towards more technical changes, more adaptations were coming into use. Likewise, the very first horse collar harness was in use by China in the 5th century.

Earlier use of Horse Harness

At the beginning of the 1900s, people used to carry out loading, transportation, and farm work. They were using draft horses and other animals such as oxen. Not only in the 1900s but before that too, people used to carry out their farm work using oxen and other animals. However, draft horses became known a little later for such work.

The purpose of using draft horses was that they were quite heavy and large in comparison with standard-size horses. Moreover, earlier people used to prefer draft horses as they were stronger, heavier, and smarter than the rest of the lot.

The first horse harness that was in use, was built according to the strong physique of draft horses. There, the structure of the harness used consists of all the straps that form a network to be aligned correctly. It generally used to have – leather straps, buckles, loops, and other fittings that attach to the horse.

Needless to say, horse harnesses today are quite similar to what they used as horse harnesses earlier. Moreover, with additional technicalities, it’s easier to use a harness even if the rider’s not present.

Are you looking to buy a harness online?

There are excellent options and variations that you may choose for your horse riding discipline. We hope the information given above was of help to you in knowing about the horse harness and its other aspects. Thus, you can learn more about how to ride a horse using a harness and relatable information.

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Written by

The author of the article is Alicia Nelson. She is a professional writer who is keenly interested in learning more about horses and their riding essentials. Apart from being a writer, Alicia is interested in equine life and is also a learned person in English riding disciplines. It’s also her profession to gather more and more knowledge about equine life and let others know about it in a correct manner.

1 thought on “Horse Harness: Types & Variations

  1. Spend less time on saddle maintenance and more time in the saddle, as this product is easy to clean and maintain.

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