Have you ever watched those historical movies, seeing those horse drawn carriages, and end up saying to yourself that you want to do that too, or how would it be like to experience such kind of horse handling?
While training your horse is a broad category, you can definitely learn a lot about one specific aspect; the horse training harness.
Most horse owners who decide to focus on carriage driving are either those who are not confident riding on horseback, or cannot ride simply because of physical limitations, but still want to experience the fun that horses bring.
Gone are the days when a harness was used on horses that are trained for wars, or for heavy tasks and responsibilities. These days, modern uses include pulling carriages for smaller tasks, such as for special events and weddings.
However, teaching a horse to be obedient and behaved while wearing a harness is actually not an easy task to do. These animals love freedom. They love to gallop around, not confined to anything.
The good news, however, with a horse training harness, you can still achieve a pleasant experience for your horse.
First things first. It is very important to understand that not all horses are actually well-suited for a horse training harness.
When looking at your horse, or selecting one to keep, temperament is one factor that you need to take into consideration. This is because a horse meant for a harness is one that needs a prolonged period of standing.
In this case, fidgety or nervous horses do not really do well, and not to mention they are mostly prone to shying away or becoming startled rather quickly.
As such, it is quite important to make sure that you only choose the best breed to go through with a horse training harness.
How to Choose
Some expert horse owners have looked at particular breeds especially when looking for a breed to undergo a horse training harness.
Even though there are certain breeds such as the Hackney, Friesian, Welsh Cobs and Connemara who are often considered as good horses, reality dictates that any breed is actually suitable for a horse training harness. This is because success mainly depends on its conformation and temperament.
For instance, when focusing on the conformation of a horse, the concept ‘wider is better’, is actually applicable, but not generally the rule of thumb.
Horses that have more width often have more power and are expected to pull carriages easier. As such, some horse owners tend to believe that narrower horses are not as capable.
Reality dictates, however, that they are capable as well. The only difference is that wider horses often look better.
When choosing a horse based on conformation, it is often recommended to look for one that is sturdy, and strong.
Horse Training Harness – The Basics
After selecting the best horse to use, a horse training harness is now the next step that you need to focus on.
Since pulling something is considered strenuous, being hard on the back of the horse may wear them out. As such, it is often advisable to start with a horse training harness once it reaches five years old.
It is also considered as good practice to have your horse backed, and saddled for about a year before placing a harness on them. In this way, your horse will become familiar with hearing voices from behind, and receiving certain commands from the person behind the reins.
The primary stage in training includes long lining, as well as training it to drag a specific object.
When these are completed, you will see good indications that your horse is now ready for advanced work. As a result, it will no longer be alarmed by the sound of objects that it is dragging.
At this stage, your horse should now be partnered with a more expert and experienced horse, and then first be attached to a light carriage along with a responsible handler that is walking right next to the horse.
With this, it is very important to make sure at this point that the fastening of the carriage enables the handler to untie the horse quickly should there be a need for it.
Then, when the horse becomes comfortable even without a handler by its side, it needs to be driven for about a month, at least twice a week. This allows for your horse to feel confident, and eventually get used to bracing against a carriage as it slows down.
After completion, the horse may now be able to start by working alone. By performing the horse training harness this way, you can expect that it will minimize potential injuries or accidents that can happen to both the handler and the horse.
It can also allow for the horse to gain the needed confidence and experience the work before allowing it to finally do the work alone.
Different horse owners choose different types of harnesses as startup gear. However, most horse training harnesses use a single harness that consist of a bridle that is equipped with a bit (commonly the Liverpool bit), blinkers, and reins, which measure about 7.5m.
A collar or breastplate may also be used, depending on the particular design. Another accessory that you can add to the list is a saddle, but not the riding saddle, as well as the bearing rein hook.
You can also add the breeching, or the part which goes round the quarters, which assists and prevents the carriage from bumping the horse while slowing down or stopping.
These days, there are a lot of options when it comes to harnesses that you can purchase. Some of them are even available from different online retailers. You may want to ask for recommendations from your trainer in order to get the best one for your specific needs.