'Domino' a young Shire getting his first lesson in draught work.
To shift any load be it a dead weight or a vehicle, the power of a working horse is harnessed by connecting it to a load through a complicated system of leather, ropes and chains called 'harness'.
Harness differs to suit the vehicle, equipment or amount of horses.
When turning a horse for fieldwork these chains rub tight around the horse's flanks and legs so the first lesson a young horse gets is a gentle build up of both pressure on its sides from the chains, and pressure on its shoulder from a weight.
This is best done by having the horse pull a tyre which is soft on the backs of it's legs should the horse step backwards - a hard object like a railway sleeper might spook a young horse - and a tyre also gives an even pull unlike a sleeper which will hop on uneven ground.
One piece of harness that is always present is the 'collar' which sits just above the shoulder around the neck.Loads are moved by the action of the horse pushing forward into the collar.
Collars are traditionally made of leather and blanket stuffed with straw or hair, and act as a pad to protect the horse's neck from being damaged by the metal 'hames' .
The hames are hooked into the chains running back to the equipment.
In the past the hames were often made of wood.
This pair of Connemara/Thoroughbred cross bred mares I have been training for a client over the winter have a surprisingly good temperament for this type of cross, and are coming along well. Full sisters, 3 and 5 years of age, they are being trained to be driven under a wagonette.