Experiments in pair harnessing

While I’ve been a driver for a while, I haven’t driven a pair until this year. I haven’t had a whole lot of interest in driving a pair, as I have a single who is going to be phenomenal, now that she has finally grown up, and that’s where I’d prefer to spend my time. The need to hitch a pair evolved out of a client’s desire to drive a pair. She purchased Halflinger full brothers and sent them to me for the basics. While her little guys were being drilled and grilled, she needed to have a pair to practice on so she had a grasp of the skills when she graduated to her pair. As I had a wonderful student horse and his equally marvelous sister, a pair we had.

So, without further ado, here’s what I played with and what I ended up with.

Lyn brought her Zilco harness, which is what she’ll be using on her boys. It is the standard accepted pair setup with the breastcollar fastened to the saddle and the breeching fastened to the breastcollar. The neck strap has an additional strap at the top which fastens to the center top of the saddle. This configuration is the current accepted “how-to” for pairs.

In ordering harness, I needed harness that would work for a single but be usable for a pair. I had some issues with the currently accepted pair harness configuration and wanted those issues addressed. After much discussion with Camptown Dave (Dave McWethy) and Nancy Van Deen, I formulated what I thought would work best for my application. I wanted easy care harness, which Dave was able and willing to provide to my specifications. I wanted harness that would be comfortable used on a single or pair. I also wanted shaped breastcollars, which Dave couldn’t provide for me, but Smuckers could.

The pictures I have to share are interim pictures. The hip strap for the breeching in these pictures isn’t the right configuration for these big horses and the breeching is still about six inches shorter than it needs to be for the size horses I drive, but we’re well on our way!







Okay, here’s what I’ve got and what I like and don’t like. I don’t like the angle of draft. With this angle of draft I really need collars. To be correct and comfortable for breastcollars, the angle of draft needs to be much closer to horizontal, which isn’t possible with this type of vehicle. The amount the neckstrap cuts into Koa’s neck is a graphic illustration of this need, and the picture doesn’t improve once we’re in draft. I love the belly breeching, how it works, how comfortable the horses are and how easily adjusted this complete and total jury rigged breeching is. I may be onto something here! What you cannot see is the breeching strap which is buckled to the bottom loop of the neck yoke. It goes back between the front legs and the cargo strap (my fancy belly breeching) goes through it and hooks to the breeching ring on the off side. On the off horse, the adjustment is on the off side. Now I just need to get together with Camptown Dave and figure how to make this all look good and work in biothane . . .





I also really like how the pole is suspended. This pole is two pieces and is adjustable in length. This is its shortest configuration, as I didn’t have my new longer traces when these pics were taken and had to adjust to the traces I had at hand. The part of the pole which is directly fastened to the vehicle is steel. The front portion of the pole, with the exception of the neck yoke, is aluminum with a hardwood core and is quite light. If anyone else has a pole like this (came on the early model Warcos) and has any comment to make on its performance, I’d love to hear about it. I still have some playing to do with the new wide padded straps Dave sent me. I also want to experiment with the neck strap fastened to the saddle and see what the pair have to say. They, ultimately, determine what works best.

Here we are out on the road. Lyn’s driving and we’re on the Weyerhaeuser 321 in our walk/take a brief break phase. Once I’ve got the correct breeching and hipstrap sizing, the hipstrap lays flat and doesn’t pull the backstrap backward (and tip the saddle backward). I really think neck collars with this angle of draft would be the final major adjustment to make this pair really comfortable. I may experiment with mounting the saddle backward and running the backstrap under the saddle (through the gullet) to try and eliminate the backward saddle tip problem . . . hmmmmm . . . Maybe redesign the saddle/padding . . . hmmmmm . . .