Breast pull vs. full collar and hames - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 02-15-2013, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Breast pull vs. full collar and hames

I've been driving commercial carriages (city, weddings, etc) for 7 years now and am finally breaking free to work for myself. In my years I have seen carriage horses work in both breast pull and full collar and hames type harnesses. I just wanted to hear a bit for the pros and cons on each, considering we will typically be hauling a 1000lb 4-wheel carriage (plus passenger weight). I also wonder how the weight of the collar and hames (that appears to be sitting on the horse's neck) would affect a horse that may spend most of an 8-hour shift standing, rather than pulling.

The horse I am planning on getting is a 7yo Shire mare, unbroke, so she will not have proper muscle development for the first few months, and from what I gather, even on a mature horse, the addition of muscle from work can make a collar no longer fit correctly, which would mean purchasing a second collar down the road.
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-15-2013, 01:33 PM
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First welcome to the forum, secondly I have no clue but I'm sure there will be others along shortly! :)

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post #3 of 8 Old 02-15-2013, 03:16 PM
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Howdy and welcome to the forum . My family has only ever used a full collar and hames on our working horses, but we had to because used to farm with them. They would frequently be in harness from shortly after dawn until nearly dark and sometimes they spent more time standing than pulling. From what I've seen, so long as the collar fits correctly and is padded properly, then there is no reason for it not to be comfortable for extended periods of time.

The biggest problem I have with the breast collar type of harnesses is that they are harder to fit and keep in the correct position to avoid soring/pinching the horse (granted I am making this judgment based on my experiences with saddle breast collar styles...but there isn't much difference between a working harness horse pulling a cart/wagon and a working ranch horse pulling a 1000 pound cow on a rope). With the strap being right across the point of both shoulders, it limits their shoulder mobility and they can't pull as much or as far like that. I believe that's one of the reasons why I've only ever seen the breast collar type harnesses on horses that are pleasure driven for relatively short periods of time.

As for needing different betcha LOL. We have 2 drafts that we drive as a team. When we first started driving them, the collars fit perfectly. Then, as they began to lose fat and trim down, the collars got a little bit loose. Then, as the work continued and they started to build muscle, the collars got too small. So, we've needed 3 different sizes of collars for them.
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-15-2013, 06:50 PM
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hiya and welcome.
the breast collar is used as long as you have a swingletree as the brest collar would rub the shoulders and make them sore as when the horse sweats and the collar is at a fixted point.
so a swingle tree is a must on that one.
it mite help you to start off in a breast collar to mussle up and tone your mare so like you said not to pay out for collars.
i have opted for an adjustable full collar it is a full one the advantages of a full you are useing the whole of the horses neck for draft so the neck and the full shoulder are used.
the adjustable one you can alter as the horse mussles up so that dispences with buying full collars.
the disadvantage of a breast collar is you are only useing the breast so thats were all your draft will be comeing from so i would use a full collar for that weight pulling in draft my self.
working a long day in a collar i think it would be ok but keep a check on your horses shoulders for sores ect and rember to clean your collar from sweat and also the horse to keep her free from sores wash her as well so you have a good clean horse to work with.
also all ways keep an eye on her and check on her welfair as well and as you build up plenty of good hay and grain to keep her stammanar up to build her mussles up so that will sustain her all day in work.
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-15-2013, 09:08 PM
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What determines if you use a neck or breast collar is the draft of the carriage. If the traces hook low at a downward angle by the axle which heavy wagons should then you use a neck collar. If the traces hook high like on a meadowbrook you use a chest collar. Some gigs have an axle draft for a neck collar and some don't and the use the breast collar.
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-18-2013, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the warm greetings.

Yes, any carriage or training cart I would use will always have a singletree (swingletree). The typical carriage I see the singletree sits about 1 to 1.5 feet below the trace connector on the hames, a little less on a breast pull, with an 18hh horse. I'd say it's about a 10 angle of draft. Would that be enough of an angle to give the advantage to the full collar and hames?

Ultimately, I like the look of a draft show harness with the scotch housing best, but as those are not cheap to come by (even in Biothane) I'm thinking about getting a used breast pull for the first year or so. I would like to be able to get her trained and safe to work on the streets and pay off the other start up costs before investing in a nicer harness. But I don't want to cause any added stress or strain on the horse just to save myself the extra 2-300 in collars.

Do the adjustable collars usually have enough give for my anticipated fat loss and muscle gain variance? Most of the collars I work with now are adjustable, but I've never really looked at how much they give (nor do I know how much variance to expect her to make).
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-18-2013, 04:45 PM
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For what it's worth, the adjustable collars we use will generally give you enough leeway for 3-4 inches of size change.
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post #8 of 8 Old 02-19-2013, 03:45 PM
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hi I use a full collar in a four wheeler ,swingle tree or not,but with a green horse I use both the full and the breast at different times and keep an eye to their shoulders ,because they will be soft ,you can tell this before the shoulder breaks by rubbing your hand across and you will feel. the little ridges under the skin.for working you really need the full collar and the softer the better.i have a set of harness that I gave just short of 2000 with a full collar ,and I,ve never used the collar,I have a big old soft collar that looks mangy but it is pure comfort for the horse
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