Miniature Horse Driving Harness

Training the Miniature Horse to accept a harness and pull a driving cart is not as hard as you might think.

Their curious nature and aim-to-please disposition makes driving fun and enjoyable.

Safety is important as driving can be a dangerous sport. It is important that you should read some instructional books and attend a clinic if possible to learn the proper methods of driving your horse.

Driving Miniature Horses is for Adults too!

Don't let the small size of the Miniature Horse and Pony fool you. They can do just about everything their larger counterparts can do. Minis are not just for kids! They are fun for everyone!

Don't let the kids have all the fun!

The popularity of Miniature Horses is growing everyday. With the discovery of this wonderful, multi-talented companion, the joy of driving the Mini Horse or Pony has seen a steady gain in popularity.

Does This Harness Come With Instructions?

Many of our harness customers are new to driving their miniature horses. At least once a week, we are asked, "Does this harness come with instructions?" This is one of the reasons we decided to put this website together.

Many people purchase the Miniature Horse or Pony for their children as an introduction to their larger counterparts. The full size horse can be rather intimidating to the small child, while the Mini is just the right size. In no time, the parents are saying, "Why should the kids have all the fun? We want to have fun too!"

Measuring for Your Driving Harness

Before you purchase your tack and equipment, you need to measure your Horse.

    A. First you want to measure for the bridle. Measure from the corner of the Mini's mouth, up along the cheek, go just behind the ears (over the poll) and down the opposite side to the corner of the mouth.
    B. Next measure the girth circumference. Do not measure over the withers, but several inches behind the withers. The harness saddle and girth sits on the horse back.
    C. A final measurement to check is the length of the horse. This measurement goes from where the saddle sits to the dock (where the tail joins the body).

If you are having your harness custom made, the harness maker will  require some other measurements for the perfect fit.

EBAY Offers a Large Selection of Driving Harness

Parts of the Single Horse Harness

The harness used in the Parts of the Harness photo is a Single Driving Harness and the cart is called an Easy Entry Cart. Miniature Horse and Pony harness is also available in a double set for Team driving. You cannot buy two sets of Single driving harness and expect to do any Team Driving without some modifications made to the harness or the purchase of a Conversion Kit. It is easier to purchase Team Harness that is already set up for this purpose. Some harness also  includes a Collar and Hames instead of the Breast Collar. The harness in the photo uses the breast collar.

Harness Pieces & Parts

The Harness Driving Bridle

The Harness Driving Bridle has the cheek pieces and crown piece like a regular riding bridle. Some driving bridles also have the noseband. This bridle has two additional pieces: Blinders (I often call them Blinkers - don't know why) and a Checkrein which is sometimes called the Overcheck.

Blinders sit beside the eyes on the cheek pieces of the bridle. They keep the horse from seeing what is behind and around him. They keep his attention on the road ahead and to your commands. Some blinders are square and some are rounded in shape.  This is a very important part of the bridle as you do not want your horse to become distracted from the road ahead or your commands.

The checkrein goes from the bit, up the front of the horses face, between his ears and down his mane to the saddle water hook. The water hook is the center hook on the top of the saddle. This keeps the horses head up and in place. This also prevents a horse from kicking hard. If a horse cannot get his head down he can't kick quite as hard. With the horse's head in position, you have more control.

Your driving harness bridle should always have the check rein and the blinders for safety.

Driving Snaffle Bit

The most common bit used to drive the Miniature Horse is a Half Cheek Snaffle Bit. The lower shanks of the bit keeps it in place and prevents it from being pulled through the horse's mouth.

The Bridle should NEVER be removed from the horse while the horse is hitched to the cart. A horse can become frightened when he sees something coming behind him....that is attached to him. This could spell disaster.

Some harness driving bridles have a noseband. When properly adjusted, this piece keeps the horses mouth closed, giving the driver more control.

Harness Breast Collar and Traces

The Breast Collar and traces are how the horse pulls the cart. It is important that the breast collar sits properly on the horse. It should lie just below the base of the neck, on the horse's chest. It should not be so high that it restricts the horse's breathing. It should not be near the point of his shoulders. This piece of equipment should be keep very clean and free of any material that may cause an irritation or galling to the horse.

The Breast Collar is connected directly to the singletree on the cart by the Traces. The traces are usually sewn or buckled onto the Breast Collar and have an opening in the center of the leather near the end of the piece. The opening in the Trace slides over the end the singletree on the cart. Usually a piece of leather goes over the trace and holds it in place on the Singletree.  There are several different ways the traces may be attached to the cart as not all harness are made the same.  Go figure.

The traces should lie in line with the shafts of the cart. If you need to adjust the height of the shafts, raise or lower the shaft loops which are on each side of the saddle. The traces are in a fixed position by the breast collar and cannot be changed.

Driving Harness Saddle

The saddle should sit a couple of inches behind the withers on the horse's back. The saddle and girth or bellyband should be snug around the horses belly, but not too tight. It should not be as tight as a girth on a riding saddle.

The center check rein hook (water hook) is on top of the saddle. There are two rings on each side of the hook. The reins go through these rings. On each side of the saddle are the shaft loops which are adjustable to fit the shaft and position the shaft of the cart.

Water Hook Trivia. I believe this term came from days gone by, when you would release the head check rein to allow your horse to lower his head for a drink of water.  Hence the name water hook.  This term is rarely used now days.  If anyone has heard any other interesting trivia, let us know.

Driving Harness Crupper

The Crupper is the piece that goes around the horse's tail. It is a stuffed or padded, oval piece that is connected to the saddle with the crupper straps. The purpose of the crupper is to keep the saddle from shifting up on the withers. The crupper should fit fairly snug, but not too tight. A too tight crupper can gall the horse beneath his tail.

Driving Harness Breeching

The Breeching are your brakes. The breeching goes around the horse's hindquarters and is held in place with the loin straps. Breeching straps attach to the cart, going through the Breeching Dee or Footman's Loop. This is a metal fitting is located on the shaft of the cart. The breeching strap should go through the metal fitting and wrapped around the shaft a couple of times. The breeching should not fit tightly around the horses hindquarters.

LEATHER OR SYNTHETIC?

LEATHER is the first choice of most people when they go to buy harness. Until recently, most driving harness was made of leather. Leather looks good, feels good and smells good. Leather is heavy and is high maintenance. It requires regular cleaning and oiling.

NYLON HARNESS is popular due to its strength, durability, and light weight. The biggest advantage of nylon is the low maintenance. A big plus with Nylon is the ease of cleaning and the low cost and the light weight.

BioThane is another popular material used in making harness. This is a plastic covered nylon webbing material which is used to make nylon harness stronger and easier to keep clean. It is very light weight.

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