Best Horse Harnesses: What are they?
Horses have been used for centuries as beasts of burden. They were originally used to pull wagons or carts, but nowadays horses are being utilized in many different ways. Some people still use them as such, while others prefer to keep them confined inside a stable or barn where they are not exposed to the elements. However, there is no denying that horses require some kind of protection from harm when working outside their stalls. A harness is just what it sounds like; a device that holds the horse’s legs together so he cannot run away.
The first harnesses were made out of leather or fabric, but soon other materials began to appear. These included metal, wood, horn and even plastic! Today, most horse owners will choose one type of harness over another because they all work very well in certain situations.
There are two main types of harnesses:
A rope harness is designed with loops at each end to hold the horse’s feet firmly together. They come in various sizes and lengths. Most horse owners will opt for a size that fits their horse best.
Ropes are usually made from hemp or cotton, although synthetic ropes have become popular too. Ropes can be easily cut if necessary, but they do tend to fray over time and need replacing regularly.
Types of Rope Harness:
Breaks – This is a very popular type of rope harness and is used mainly for light work. It is easy to put on and take off, and fits on the horse’s head just like a bridle. The harness itself goes around the chest and abdomen with two loops that go under the horse’s belly.
Plain Halter – This type of harness does not have any rope breaks. It is designed to be used with a bridle for light work, but it can also be used with a bit and cheek straps for heavier tasks.
Draw – This harness goes over the horse’s head and comes in two parts, one for the horse’s chest and one for its belly that is joined by a strap that loops under the horse. They are very easy to put on and take off, although they are not as secure as other types of harnesses.
Pack – Also known as a bosal harness, a pack harness is designed for packing heavy objects on the horse’s back. It is usually used in conjunction with some kind of pack saddle or cart. The harness itself has two parts; one part goes around the horse’s chest and shoulders and a larger part that goes under its belly.
This is a specialized type of rope harness that only has two loops instead of four. One loop goes over the horse’s head, while the other loop wraps around both the front and back legs on one side. While this type of harness may be useful to control an injured horse, it should not be used as a regular arrangement.
Types of Hobble:
Center-fire – This type of hobble actually has two loops; one that wraps around the horse’s head and one that loops around the front and back legs on one side.
Dummy – This type of hobble has only one loop that wraps around both the horse’s head and front legs. The back legs are completely free.
Pole-a-hoy – This type of hobble clips on to the bit ring and wraps around both the horse’s head and front legs. Some varieties wrap around just the head and attach to the bit with a chain, while others wrap around both the head and legs and clip onto the bit with a snap.
There are several types of collars that can be used on horses, but they are not usually used as a primary means of restraint. They are most often used as training devices for young horses or to prevent dangerous behavior in older horses.
Types of Collars:
Bridle – A regular bridle can be used as a collar to prevent a horse from turning its head one way or another, especially useful for horses that have been trained to respond to bit pressure.
Driving – Driving collars resemble padded bits and are used to prevent a horse from throwing its head up or out. They allow a horse to still use its head, but they prevent it from flipping its head up or to the side. They come in several varieties including single joint, double joint, and e-ring.
Gag – A gag collar is a thick piece of leather that is designed to fit into a horse’s mouth to prevent it from biting or chewing itself. It has no way of closing off the mouth completely, although some gags have small metal bars that go between the teeth to help keep the horse from opening its mouth too wide.
Muzzle – A muzzle can be used to prevent a horse from biting or eating rough objects such as rocks. It does not prevent it from eating regular feed, although horses can easily choke on their food if they are not used to eating with a muzzle. Muzzles are either yoked (connected by a strap that wraps around the neck) or strung (connected by a string that goes over the horse’s head and attaches to another strap that wraps around the neck).
Slick – A slick collar is a neoprene or other synthetic tube that fits over a horse’s head and wraps around one side. The idea is to prevent the horse from throwing its head up, however, slick collars can be dangerous because they can get caught on something and strangle the horse.
In addition to all of the above, there are other types of equipment used for controlling or handling horses.
Sources & references used in this article:
Halters by GC Strawhorn, ER Johnson – US Patent 2,854,800, 1958 – Google Patents
Horse control leader by LM Hart, RJ Hart, GD Hart – US Patent 4,324,089, 1982 – Google Patents
Horse halter with attached lead lines by CF Johansen, ES Lowell – US Patent 4,774,801, 1988 – Google Patents
James s by US Patent 252,500, 1882 – Google Patents
Instant control system using a fixed stud latching system by D Shelton – US Patent 9,427,049, 2016 – Google Patents