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Understanding Harness Parts

Understanding the function of the different parts of horse harnesses:

Single Harness

  1. Bridle, bit and reins join the horse and driver together and allows each to communicate with each other.  This communication system can be complemented by the aid of a whip and your voice.  The focal point of this communication system is a proper fitting bit held in place by a proper fitting bridle.  The driver is connected to the horse by the reins to give comfortable clear directions to the horse.  The brow band on the bridle prevent the crown piece from slipping down the pole.  The throat latch with the help of the brow band will help prevent the crown piece from slipping over the ears and coming off.  Most driving bridles are equipped with winkers/blinkers/blinders to restrict the horse’s wide peripheral vision.  These winkers should be cupped and out far enough to avoid touching the eyelashes.
  2. Breast collar/breast plate is suspended by a neckstap that is split into two billets at each end and attach to the breast collar/breast plate.  The breast collar gives the horse something to push against to move the cart. An incorrect fitting breast collar can cause problems. If its too high it can press against the horses windpipe and covering the point of should will interfere with the horses ability to travel comfortably and freely.
  3. Traces attach to the breast collar with one end and to the cart with the other end.  This is all you need for forward motion.  The breast collar and traces create the draught system.
  4. The Saddle is the main part of the vehicle support and guidance system. The shaft loops/shaft tugs are to hold the shafts from the vehicle in place at the proper height.  The horse steers the vehicle left or right by pushing into the saddle and shafts.  The top of the saddle has rein guides or turrets along with a water hook to attach a set of side checks or an over check.  The saddle also has a Dee on the back to attach the back strap to secure the crupper and hip strap/loin strap/spider which holds up the braking system.
  5. The Breaking System is a breeching seat held up by the hip strap and the hip strap is held in place by the crupper. The breeching seat is attached to the shafts by the hold back straps in the location of the footman loop found on the shafts near the horses flank. The hold back straps pass through the footman loops and are wrapped around the shaft, if done properly the wraps will get tighter.  This stops the vehicle from running up on the horses rear
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