Parts of a Horse Driving Harness

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Parts of a Horse Driving Harness
Parts of a Horse Driving Harness (Image: Illustration released to Public Domain by Pearson Scott Foresman.)

Before the invention of the automobile, driving meant steering a horse-drawn wagon or buggy. Today, horse driving is a sport for both miniature and draft horses. If you are interested in participating in this sport, you will need a carriage and a harness. Puzzling together a harness can be a confusing experience if you don't know what you're looking at.

Bridle

The bridle is used by the driver to steer the horse. Driving bridles differ from riding bridles in that they have blinders to prevent the horse from seeing what is beside and behind him. A horse that can see behind and beside it can become distracted. Blinders keep the horse focused. A bridle may also have a cheek rein, which is attached to the saddle to prevent the horse from lowering its head and kicking.

Collar

The collar is typically a padded loop that the horse wears below the base of the neck, against the breastbone. The collar attaches to the harness to allow the horse to push against it with its chest to move the cart or wagon.

Saddle

A saddle goes behind the horse's withers (front leg joints), where it fits snugly but not too tight. Unlike the riding saddle, the harness saddle has no platform for seating. Instead it holds rings to which other parts of the harness are anchored. The cheek reign is attached to the saddle through the topmost hook, which is known as the water hook. On either side of the water hook are two loops for the reins. Next to them are adjustable loops for the carriage arms to attach.

Breeching

Breeching acts as the horse's braking system on a cart or wagon. Typically breeching is a series of straps that sit on the horse's hindquarters and attach to the cart. When a horse wants to slow the cart's progress, it leans against the breeching .

Traces

Traces are straps that attach from the collar to the actual cart, allowing the horse to push against the collar and pull the cart. The traces attach to the cart through the cart's singletree and follow the lines of the carriage arms.

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