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Breast collar draught line (B) _ _ _ _ _

As illustrated the breast collar lies uncomfortably close to the windpipe and sits below the optimum
point of draught. (A1 & A2) The line of draught passes below the centre of gravity and can interfere
with shoulder movement. Although perfectly adequate for draught with either a two or four-wheeled
well maintained vehicles over flat, even surfaces, it fails to exploit equine energy to the full. Up to
25% of draught is lost.

Optimum Point of draught (as currently recognised) if using a full collar.

In the above illustration the optimum points of draught are represented by A1 & A2.
If working with adjustable hames, A1 would be preferable for ground work i.e. ploughing, harrowing
etc. with the line of draught again running through the centre of gravity to the point of impact at
ground level. A2, which sits approximately 2 to 3 lower is preferable for cart/wagon draught.
The centre of gravity is as important as the optimum point of draught. With the forces of draught
running through it, it centres these forces giving the horse a sense of balance as it pushes into the
T. Davis.

Saddle, Harness & Horse Collar Maker

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The Four principles of animal draught.

The four unchanging principals of animal draft are: steering, transmission, weight distribution and
braking. Correspondingly, there are four component parts of harness designed to accommodate these.
They are: the bridle, collar, pad and breeching. Independently, each of these component parts plays a vital
role in harnessing the forces of draught.

Steering is conveyed through the reins and bit. The bridle is simply a devise to carry the bit. The use of
blinkers has always been controversial. Debate still continues as to weather there use is effective or not.

Transmission is effected through the use of a collar and hames to which traces are attached. Collars are the
area of greatest concern and least understood. It needs to be taken into account that when animals are
subjected to draught they are in fact PUSHING. In doing so there are two types of collar to consider: the
breast and full collar.
Breast collarsSee figure 1
The breast collar is the most commonly used and consists of a wide band around the breast and held in
place by a neck strap. They can be used to good effect with 2 or 4 wheeled vehicles. The traces are attached
to either end of the breast collar and energy is transmitted through these to the point of impact. This type
collar is best suited to light haulage work over smooth, flat surfaces. Not recommended for tillage.

Breast collars are cheap and easy to manufacture, and are interchangeable. One size fits

Disadvantages: By being positioned below the optimum point of draft, maximum draft cannot be achieved.
Therefore approximately 25% of the draft is lost. To avoid serious injury they must be
used in conjunction with swingle trees. There is a tendency for shoulder movement to be
restricted. (See figure 1 below)
Full collars..See figure 2
Made from leather and stuffed with straw. They are designed to carry the hames onto which the traces
attach. In effect, the collar acts as a cushion between the hames and the animal. The size and shape of
collars is of prime importance. They must be stuffed in such a way as to allow clearance to the throat and
withers and to keep the traces clear of the animals sides.

Full collars allow the animal to achieve maximum draft by dispersing the applied forces
evenly over the shoulders and neck without causing hindrance to movement. This is
highly desirable in terms of efficiency.

Disadvantages: Collar making is a highly skilled craft and labour intensive. It requires many years of training
to perfect. Its important to emphasis that size matters. Therefore they must be made to
measure. As a rule: one horse, one collar applies. Collars that are too big will move and
the resultant friction will cause injury. If to small, will cause choking and difficulties with
breathing. Collar widths are important. (See figure 2 below)

Weight distributionBack Pad

The weight of the vehicle (loaded or unloaded) is taken across the animals back and requires a framed and
padded cart saddle. It must allow for complete clearance of the vertebra and be held in place using a girth.
A back band and shaft tugs are also required as is a bellyband. This is attached to the shafts and goes under
the belly stopping the shafts from lifting when a vehicle becomes unbalanced.

There are two types of breeching: false or full. Full breeching consists of a broad band around the
hindquarters (similar to a breast collar) and is supported by the use of hip straps. It is attached to the
vehicle shafts and takes the full weight of the vehicle when going down hill or reversing. The false
breeching is a strap attached between the shafts, (from shaft to shaft) behind the animal and performs the
same function. Care needs to be taken in size of animal in comparison to the vehicle when considering the
use of false breeching.

When the above four principals are fully understood and complied with all equine can be
harnessed effectively and proficiently.
Component harness parts can be adapted to local and cultural conditions and allow for
the use of alternative natural, locally sourced, materials. With the reported increase in
the use of equines in developing countries, it is more important than ever to provide a
better understanding and training initiatives in the use and welfare of equines.

Terry Davis

Points of Animal Draught

(B to R2) Breast Collar point of contact
resistance. (G) Centre of gravity.

(A1 & A2 ) Optimum points of draught. (R1 & R2) Centre of

Illustration from Terry Keegan: The Heavy Horse, American edition, Published by Barnes & Co. 1973

Figure 1.

Breast collar draught.


Point of draught. (G) Centre of gravity.

Horizontal draught.

Ground draught

Figure 2

Full neck collar draught

(A1 & A2) Optimum point of draught. (G) Centre of gravity

Ground draught.

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Horizontal draught