Breast collar for huge shoulders - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 06-19-2019, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Breast collar for huge shoulders

So my gelding is a round, stumpy QH/Morgan currently being trained to drive. Even though we're still quite a ways off from hooking up to a cart, I can't seem to get the breast collar to fit quite right... Its either too close to the point of his shoulder, or up by his windpipe.

He currently has a synthetic Smucker harness with a straight breastcollar. I was thinking a deep V style breastcollar would accomodate his huge shoulders and stout body well, but before going on the hunt for a harness maker I'd like to know if anyone else has experience with them on horses with a stocky build.

I've also heard of euro collars working well for freeing up the shoulder and not restricting the windpipe, and I can adjust the line of draft on his breaking cart. Would those be worth looking into over deep V breastcollars for simple pleasure and trail driving?
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post #2 of 23 Old 06-20-2019, 07:37 AM
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Pictures would help. It typically depends on the amount of adjustment as to whether something will work or not. Added holes or ordering custom replacement pieces that are shorter or longer can be an option. And yes, some styles fit better than others. I've never had an issue with my breast collar and it has been adjusted to fit some really narrow animals up to a couple of old time stout (read wide) animals. I did have to change out some of the straps though. All of my harness is made to come apart at every junction though for two reasons - one being an old injury of mine that makes it hard sometimes to lift and the other being I knew I was going to be training and didn't want several sets of different sizes so each set has added adjustments plus completely different strapping pieces that can be switched out.
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post #3 of 23 Old 06-20-2019, 12:00 PM
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Some people like Euro collars, but from my point of view, as a harnessmaker (ret) and author of the book, Understanding Harness, they are a complete fraud.

Throat relief would be good, but some of the deep V collars are also poorly designed in an attempt to make breast collars suitable for low draft marathon vehicles, which they'll never accomplish. There is MUCH fashion going on in the driving world to the sacrifice of well researched design. If you're using something like a meadowbrook with a high singletree, some of the deep V collars point down at the ends, and even if the trace buckles are hinged, the fit is crappy. They also have to be tied down in the center with a false martingale, which can be a rub risk. There are some inbetween designs that offer throat relief, lift the collar off the point of shoulder a bit, and have correctly placed neckstrap uptugs, and have a better angle at the ends.

It's a n equipment selection jungle out there.
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post #4 of 23 Old 06-20-2019, 03:07 PM
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Is a collar an option? Those seem to work better on horses with wide shoulders and a low-set neck than breastcollars.
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post #5 of 23 Old 06-20-2019, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverMaple View Post
Is a collar an option? Those seem to work better on horses with wide shoulders and a low-set neck than breastcollars.

It's really about the angle of draft. If the singletree is high, like on a meadowbrook, the horizontal traces on a neck collar will pull the collar into the throat and grind on the shoulders, and above the trace attachments, the top part of the collar will flap around uselessly. The traces need to make as near a 90degree angle as possible from the hames to the singletree in order to use a neck collar.

Conversely, if you try to use a breast collar with a low singletree, the angle of the traces will force the neckstrap to bear down painfully on top of the neck. For that reason, breast collars are more suitable for high draft vehicles. Impeding the shoulder mobility to a certain extent with a breast collar is an unavoidable certainty.

The Euro collar and the super deep v collars are failed attempts to correct the draft on a marathon vehicle without having to fit a neck collar. But they look cool so people buy them.
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post #6 of 23 Old 06-20-2019, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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His cart is an easy entry with a high swingletree akin to a meadowbrook, definitely made for a breastcollar.

According to the lady I got it from, the line of draft is adjustable, but I'm not really sure how to adjust that nor do I have much interest unless a full collar is really my only option for keeping his shoulder free without blocking his windpipe. However something tells me I'd just want to invest in a different, low swingletree cart rather than mucking about with forces I don't fully comprehend.

If the consensus is that eurocollars aren't worth the money, is there a harness brand that makes good deep V breast plates? Could I take measurements and get a breastplate custom from a harness maker?

Sorry if these are all stupid questions, I'm very new to driving.
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post #7 of 23 Old 06-20-2019, 06:42 PM
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If you want to go with a deep V, you could look at the Comfy Fit harness at Chimacum Tack. They are known for their customer service. If you ask for Mindy, she's pretty keen on collars and horse comfort. Tell her Barb Lee sent you. LOL! I could explain why I think Euro collars are a bust, but it's a whole ' nother discussion. My opinion may be in the minority.
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post #8 of 23 Old 06-21-2019, 02:26 PM
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You could also try Hogbranch Harness in Mississippi. They work with you.
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post #9 of 23 Old 06-21-2019, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QtrBel View Post
You could also try Hogbranch Harness in Mississippi. They work with you.
Ken Bauerle is a dear friend of mine! Yes, give him a call!
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post #10 of 23 Old 06-22-2019, 11:41 AM
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He did all of my custom work when I injured my shoulder. Those harnesses - training, work and show are still in use today 20+ years later. Love, love, love that family. When the Russell's were putting on work horse clinics that was one of the field trips every one would revisit after.


ETA My breast collar from there has a gentle curve to it that combined with placement and adjustability of the straps has meant I have only ever had to have the one.
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