If you want to have your horse pull a cart, a wagon or even a sleigh, you will need one important piece of tack, the harness. A harness connects your horse to the cart or other conveyance and gives you a way to control the horse. There are several harness models, from standard driving harnesses to harnesses for horses that compete in sulky races. Of course, just like with other types of tack, you can find leather or nylon harnesses.
Before you buy any type of driving harness, you should know how many hands high your horse stands. Usually, driving harnesses come in miniature horse, 12 hands to 13 hands, 14 hands to 15 hands, over 15 hands and draft horse sizes. You should also know which size of bit your horse uses with a traditional bridle, since bit sizing for harnesses is the same.
A harness has quite a few parts, so it is no surprise that even the simpler harnesses are a bit pricey. Your harness can have over thirty parts. A few of these parts such as the browband, a nose band, a bit strap, a bit and a throat latch will probably sound familiar to you, since these same parts are found on bridles. Other parts, such as the harne, a breast strap, a pole strap, a belly band, a back band and a line may be completely new.
If your horse has never worn a harness before, you will need to look for a training harness. These harnesses have the same basic structure as other harnesses, but are much simpler. There are no fancy details on the training harness. Of course, you can continue to use your training harness as a driving harness after your horse has learned to pull a cart, but most people opt to shop for something a bit fancier.
For people interested in getting a harness for their buggies or for heavy work, such as log pulling, there is an additional part, the collar. This collar is used to connect the horse to the buggy. Since it is not flexible or adjustable, you will have to take accurate measurements to be sure it fits your horse properly. Measure around your horse’s neck, from the spot where his neck meets his back, to the spot where his neck meets his chest to get the correct measurement. Of course, if someone has a collar that fits your horse, you can also just measure the inside of the collar.
If you want something a bit more elaborate, you may want to take a look at parade harnesses. These harnesses are ideal for shows or just for showing off. They have plenty of brass or stainless steel, fancy stitching and decorative extras. Of course, all of the glitz on these harnesses doesn’t make them any less functional.
Once you decide which harness is right for you and you have your horse’s measurements, it is finally time to start shopping. Of course, you can head to your tack and feed store to buy a brand new harness, but if you aren’t sure you and your horse will enjoy the experience, you may want to opt for a used harness. After all, these durable items have been known to last for centuries.