Where to start? Just bought a Belgian.
We just bought a really great 14-18 yr Belgian Gelding that had been left to pasture when his former rider went off to college and didn't have time to ride or play anymore.
He is a very gentle giant and VERY interested in people, esp if he thinks you have "cookies".
We want to ride him occasionally on shorter trail rides (in the round pen he was winded pretty fast so we don't expect allot of long back country rides out of him) and we want to use him to pull some timer out of the back of some property we have where quads and trucks can't go.
Right now all we have is a bareback pad and a bridle w/ reins etc so we are shopping for a decent Draft saddle.
The head scratching comes in when we are looking at harnesses.
I cannot find much in the way of info on types of harnesses and what pieces or styles I would need for pulling narrow loads, like logs etc.
I see lots of really flashy stuff on EBay but most seems aimed at showing or pulling a cart and don't look like that would give much support in direct horizontal pulling applications.
I just don't want to blow $$$$ on a harness, just to find out it's the wrong thing and it is worthless for our needs.
Any info anyone can provide as to what I should be looking for, like if I go to auctions I am looking for a **** style harness or whatever would be great.
Thanks in advance!
Harnesses & such
I am pretty much in the same boat. Just got my Belgian gelding in Dec. and have a bridle only. I am looking for a harness set to use for exactly the same thing you are, light logging with a single horse. I'll let you know if I find something or somewhere that might work for you too. :-) Best of luck with your new boy!
Not sure where y'all are located, but, the Amish will make it or sell it and it'll be top notch.
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For logging, you will only want a traditional collar harness. Some will also refer to it as a "work" harness. Most of the harness on eBay is crap (or breast collar) so unless you know what you're looking for, stay away. Bio, nylon or leather is fine as long as the hardware is of good quality and the integrity of the strap is good. You will need to buy a separate collar too ($80+). For that you will need to measure him to assure a good fit. Collar pads are a good investment as well($25). Your hames must also be the right size to fit the collar (2" larger than the collar another $75+ if the set on the harness is the wrong size). I have bought most of my harness at auction. I have bought the most ungodly red and white nylon draft harness for $55. It has stainless steel hardware, fits the horse like a glove, is reinforced in all the right places but had to spend $100 on hames to fit the collar. Still worth the price. My best purchase was a brand new HD leather harness for $325. It's worth over $1000. Probably weights close to 50# so it is a PIA harnessing an 18H draft. I'll work on getting a picture of that one up later. New nylon will run you around $400+ and bio at least $500. Traditional logging harness will replace the leather tugs with chains that are longer and can't be damaged when working. I like bio lines for ground driving work. You tend to drag them on the ground and no sense in damaging an expensive leather set. Most men like the feel of 1" lines in their hands. Always drive in gloves to start. There is a ton of stuff to know when first starting out and it's really best to find someone who can help you get everything done in person. WA has a rather large draft horse association. I don't think OR has one. They really are your best bet when getting started. They can probably hook you up with some good used harness. There are a few draft horse auctions in ID but you never know what you might or might not come across.
Does he know how to drive? If you don't know, try long lining him and gauge how he responds. See if he responds to verbal commands. Haw means turn left and Gee is right. He will know his name (always start the command with his name) whoa, stand, get up, walk on and trot as basic everyday commands.
You can go to online stores such as My Draft Horse Super Store and you will see what you need. You will want a good work harness, which has the collars, not the breast strap. Be warned, work harness are very heavy and I find it almost impossible to get onto my 19hh guy.
Here is a diagram of a work harness on a horse:
I prefer Bio to leather, weighs less, but neither is light when lifting above your head. Bio is also easier to clean a little 409 and hose it off and hand to dry. Leather is wash and condition and try and keep the mice for eating it up because of the oil.
Has your guy been driven before or just ridden? If he has then it should come back to him pretty quick if he has only been ridden, it a total new concept for him. Make sure he's comfy just walking around in the harness in a round pen to make sure he's ok with the feel and noise of the harness. Also make sure he understands pulling before going in the woods as in pulling a log/post around in a enclosed area.
Not sure if I can give a couple of names and phone # on here or not, so send me a message and I can get you a couple of folks that can help you with a harness.
Your choices are leather, Bio, & Nylon.
Leather- Con. heavy, extra time to clean (unless you use it on a daily basis, then it conditions itself with the horse sweat)
Bio- little lighter, cleans easy with spray cleaner and hose, drip dry.
Nylon- lightest in weight - not the prettiest to me, but I can't say much about them havent ever had a nylon harness, but the cheapest to purchase.
Your going to spend at least $500 on a leather or Bio, nylon you can probably get for around $400. That doesn't include a collar, which depending on what size you need which will run $100-200. You need to know the collar size, the hames on the harness need to be 2 sizes larger than the collar.
If your going to be logging you want a work collar not a driving collar, two different things. A driving collar will be cheaper, but is not for work just pulling a cart on smoother flat areas.
Hope I haven't confussed you to much.
Thanks for all the responses folks.
We were told that he was originally born to an Amish family that used him to "show", so I don't know if that means he just ran around in a circle pulling a cart or what.
I know he is ride able and he behaves well in a round pen with all the basic ground work we have tried. So now we are just looking for a cheap draft saddle so we can take him on a few day rides with our other horses and see how he does. Then as we are able to find things at auction or on CL we will begin amassing a harness.
I think I will follow up with the local WA state Draft community idea and see if they have any groups that get together, maybe I can take him out and let someone with experience take a look at him and see what he knows.
If he was raised and broke by Amish, he knows how to drive. Their drafts must all work in the field from a young age. Typically they are working a full day by 2. They don't bother to teach them to ride. Try finding someone locally who drives a team and swap him out with one of their horses. Most farm horses are a little shaky driving by themselves but are super when with another horse. Play around with putting him on the left or right in case he's always been on one side.
welcome to the forum If you biuld him up he should do fine
I'll second biothane. After a serious shoulder injury we had to make the switch to lighten the load on my shoulder for harnessing. Mine is custom as I still can't lift a full set but that made it nice as I can change out parts and go from show to farm to woods just switching a piece or two. three words - Small Farm Journal. The articles are worth their weight in gold. So is Draft Horse Journal. Go through the ads, look at the pics and have someone that knows what they are doing look anything over before you buy. If you like to travel there is a farm school in Mississippi -google Kenny Russell or russellsworkhorses I think. You can probably find something closer. I met a man from Va that does logging schools and I think has a newsletter that could be valuable. It's been years since I've seen him but I hear his name every so often so I know he's still around doing what he does best.
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