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Parts of a Harness


1. Liverpool Bit 2. ThroatLatch 3. Breast Collar 4. Girth
5. Tug 6. Trace 7. Breeching 8. Rein
9. Crupper 10. Backstrap 11. Saddleback Pad 12. Terret
13. Neck Strap Terret 14. Neck Strap 15. Head Piece 16. BrowBand
17. Winkers,Blinders 18. NoseBand 19. Hold Back Strap 20. Hip Strap
21. Overgirth

Certain points should be considered when checking the “fit” and suitability of harness for your pleasure driving horse.

Single Breastcollar Harness

Easier to fit for the novice horseperson and is preferred over full collar harness.


Broad and padded to provide support and comfort since narrow breastcollars cut into the chest and cause the horse pain when pulling.
Around 2-3 inches in width and no more than 4 inches.
Top neck strap is wider, may be padded, and lies on the neck just in front of the withers and a little behind the perpendicular.


Should be of the slot-ended variety used with a moveable singletree and buckle on to the breastcollar.
Sewn-in traces cannot be adjusted for length and if they break, the whole collar must go in for repair.
With buckle-in traces, the buckle must lie in front of the back pad and it is important that the shafts on the vehicle are wide enough so that they don’t rub on the trace buckle.

Back Pad

The pad, which sits on the horse’s back, is built on a rigid tree made of metal, leather or synthetic material.
Wide enough to cover the back, about 3-4 inches, and padded right down the sides so that the top doesn’t rest on the withers.
Fit of back pad is crucial for support and comfort.


At least 2 inches wide, well padded and should be buckled on both sides.


The cart is attached by an overgirth which buckles on and holds onto tugs in which the shafts rest.
For safety, the back band should be made out of a single piece of leather. Unattached to the top part of the back pad, it is free to slide through from side to side. This enables absorption of sideways movements of the vehicle, reducing jarring on the horse’s back.
Wrap straps are another option, however, the overgirth is preferred since it transmits less movement to the horse’s back.


For a two-wheeled vehicle, open tugs consist of heavy-duty loops made of several layers of leather sewn together and connected by the girth.

Backstrap and Crupper

The backstrap is attached to a “D” ring on the back of the back pad and holds the crupper under the horse’s tail.
Crupper must be well padded for the comfort of your horse and should be the buckle-on type which is easier for the novice to use.
The buckles must be designed to ensure that the reins cannot become caught in any way.


Acting as your brakes, the breeching must be wide enough to enable the horse to hold back the cart without digging into him. About 2-3 inches in width.
Breeching straps or holdback straps work with the breeching to hold back the vehicle and must be long enough to wrap around the shafts preferably three wraps and then buckled together.


Black with tan hand parts or all tan and of a width that is comfortable in your hand.
One end buckles on to the bit and the hand parts buckle together.
Reins must be long enough to reach behind the vehicle’s seat.


Must be complete with adjustable blinders and have noseband which attaches to the cheek pieces to prevent gaping on the side of your horse’s face.
Tighter than a riding bridle, gullet strap preferred for safety.


Either a snaffle or curb type.
Liverpool is recommended, but not mandatory.

2 comments to Parts of a Harness

  • Robert Jackson

    A fellow came in to the store today looking for a “Trigger Snap”. The only thing we had that was close to what he wanted was sister snaps that swivel. He said it should not have a swivel. Can you shed some light on what he was looking for? He has been driving a team for a long time.

    We looked in the Weaver catalog and they all swiveled.

    Best Regards,

    • Jac

      I’m not familiar with the term, however a Google search shows several examples .. all I found did include swivels. A typical example of use would be to connect the reins to the bit .. I actually have a set of reins with this type snap.

      I suspect the snap the fellow is referring to is similar but without the swivel. It is simply a heavy duty snap used frequently in the Amish community near me to connect the hold back strap to the breeching. I use this type snap but I don’t currently have a clear photo of one.

      The 17th photo on this page shows the snap on a hold back strap hanging on a cart.
      Hope this helps.

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