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Collar Hames and Harness Fitting
Collar Hames and Harness Fitting

Fig. 1 — Henry Marcks pair.

On these next pages we have reprinted a special surprise. With the exception of this writing we are reprinting the entire original, uncut – unedited, content of the 1944 leaflet (no. 276) as produced by the Horse and Mule Association of America. The original of this material was loaned to Small Farmer’s Journal by the kind, generous, and trusting Judson Schrick of Decorah, Iowa.

In collecting this sort of material for 20 years I thought I had come across all of the published leaflets of the Horse and Mule Assoc. I was very surprised to find, during my visit to Schrick’s Iowa farm (see article this issue), that there is quite a lot of material yet to uncover.

You may recall in previous issues of SFJ reading something about a man named Wayne Dinsmore who served as the most active and vocal secretary of the Horse and Mule Assoc. in those difficult decades of the 30’s and 40’s. Dinsmore was an eloquent and persistent advocate for true horsepower at a time when an enormous amount of advertising money was feeding the headlong, crazy rush to the tractor. Dinsmore would have enjoyed viewing the resurgence of the draft horse in the 70’s but I wonder what he would think of how we are conducting business now that prices are soft. I’m sure he would have said that NOW is the time to get out there and let people know! Instead of sitting back and wondering if it will ever get ‘good’ again. Promotion and education are critically important if the draft horse industry is to stabilize.

Some updating notes on the text: The reference to the shortage of leather and the prevalence of fabric collars was due to the effect of the war on supplies. Most of us would be hard pressed to find a harness shop with the time to wash and oil harness for us. And many references in this text take for granted that the reader will be a farmer with extensive horse experience. The statement that collar sizes in Dixie will be smaller than up north will be disputed I’m sure. For the most part, the entire text of this excellent leaflet needs no alteration.

Many thanks to Judson Schrick for bringing this leaflet to our attention and letting us borrow it. LRM

Collars, Hames and Harness Fitting

Leaflet No. 276
(Formerly Horse Association of America)
Wayne Dinsmore, Secretary

Farmers who are good horsemen know everything that is presented here: yet even they will welcome this leaflet because it will refresh their memories and make easier their task when they have to show hired men or boys how to adjust equipment properly. Good horsemen know from long experience that sore necks or sore shoulders on work stock are due to ignorance or carelessness of men in charge, and are inexcusable.

While it is possible to work animals with sore necks or sore shoulders, it is not humane, and the majority of owners will rest affected animals temporarily. This costs money in loss of time and delay in planting, tilling or harvesting crops, and is wholly unnecessary.

Collar Hames and Harness Fitting

Fig. 6 — Scars from collar sores.

In addition, scars often follow which reduce the price when an animal is sold. The mule shown in figure 6 sold for $25.00 less than it otherwise would have brought because of the shoulder scars and the possibility that trouble might start afresh when the animal was put to heavy work.

Keeping the necks and shoulders of work stock in perfect condition is therefore an economic question of practical importance, for there are between 11 and 12 million animals that will be at work in harness in 1944.

Knowledge of the causes of sore necks and shoulders, and avoidance of such causes, will keep work stock free from such troubles. Good farmers know this and are watchful to see that sores do not start.

Collar Hames and Harness Fitting

Fig. 2 — L.J. Smith pair.

The pairs shown in figures 2 and 3, and the pair on the cover page, are present joint holders of the world’s record in pulling contests for pairs weighing 3,000 pounds and over. The photographs were taken at Centerville, Michigan, September 24, 1943, when the three pairs tied for a new world’s record. They exerted a tractive pull of 4100 pounds, equivalent to pulling 10 plows cutting furrows 14 inches wide and 6 inches deep, through ordinary corn belt black loam soil, or equivalent to starting, for 15 or 20 consecutive times, a load of 53,246 pounds on a wagon over granite block pavement.

Collar Hames and Harness Fitting

Fig. 3 — Clarence Harter pair.

The three pictures are presented here because they show excellent fit of collars, hames and harness, under maximum strain. Notice that although the horses are exerting their utmost efforts, the throats of the collars almost, but do not quite, touch the throats of the horses, hence there is no choking. Hames fit snugly into the seams of the collars for their entire length. The belly bands are strong, and buckled at such length as to keep the tugs pulling at right angles to the shoulders, from collars to belly band. Were it not for such proper adjustment of belly bands, the tugs, which are seen to rise slightly from belly band to singletree as the horses pull, would draw the collars upward against the throat and choke the horses. All three pairs have extra hame straps holding hames together across the top. The collars have been fitted closely to sides of neck by collar pads, which also spread the load over a larger bearing surface on the shoulders. On cover, Henry Marcks pair.

Adjust Individually

To avoid sore necks or shoulders, each work animal should have an individual collar, kept exclusively for that animal. This is as important to work animals as individually fitted shoes are to a marching soldier.

Fitting a collar to a new work animal, whether it is purchased or raised, should be done by testing with different size collars till one is found that fits. If it is not practical to take the animal to the harness shop, an approximate preliminary fit can be obtained by testing with collars that belong to other animals, till one is found that seems about right, then measuring for length as shown in figure 4.

Collar Hames and Harness Fitting

Fig. 4 — Collar parts: how to measure.

There are three types of collars: Regular, half sweeney and full sweeney. The first will fit long, flat, slender necks; the second fits the neck that is a bit heavier, slightly thick at the top; the third is intended for a stud like neck, very thick near the top.

Collar sizes designate their length: thus a size 18 measures 18 inches from top to bottom just inside rim, when collar is buckled — size 21 would measure 21 inches — see Fig. 4 for method of measuring. Small animals take size 16 or smaller, very large draft horses size 24 or larger. The majority of collars sold north of the 40th degree of latitude (see any map of the United States) are sizes 20, 21, 22 and 23: south of that they usually are smaller, sizes 17 and 18 predominating in the main cotton raising states.

There are 2 kinds of collars: (a) those made of all leather; (b) other than all leather. The latter frequently have had a ticking (a cotton fabric) face, and split leather back and rims. With the present great shortage of leather, many collars will have duck for backs and collar webbing for rims. These are cotton fabrics of heavier, stronger weave.

Collars other than all leather are serviceable, lasting 3 or 4 years and sell at enough lower prices to justify their use when all leather collars cannot be obtained.

In fitting a collar, it should be put on and so buckled that the sides of the collar are snug enough against the neck to make it feasible to pass the fingers only, held flat, between the rim of the collar and the sides of the neck, when the collar is pressed or drawn strongly back against the shoulders. See Fig. 9 which shows a collar that is too wide; the whole hand goes in, instead of fingers only.

While collar is so pressed back, length should be such that the flat hand can be turned up as shown in Fig. 10. Thus turned, the hand crowds against the throat. If measured, a ruler will show about 2 inches free space between throat of horse and collar, when collar is drawn strongly back against shoulders by pull on tugs — all a man can pull — or by causing the horse to step forward against a load till collars are firmly pressed against shoulders. is a live, ever-changing subscription website. To gain access to all the content on this site, subscribe for just $5 per month. If you are not completely satisfied, cancel at any time. Here at your own convenience you can access past articles from Small Farmer's Journal's first forty years and all of the brand new content of new issues. You will also find posts of complete equipment manuals, a wide assortment of valuable ads, a vibrant events calendar, and up to the minute small farm news bulletins. The site features weather forecasts for your own area, moon phase calendaring for farm decisions, recipes, and loads of miscellaneous information.

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