I am always seeking to learn, trying new things, and experimenting in an effort to make what we do with horses and how we do it safer and better. Since I wrote the previous article I’ve learned about a type of driving bridle design which has a crown piece and throatlatch system that is very different from the traditional driving bridles we use in this country. The bridles are specifically designed to prevent them from being rubbed off or pulled off over the horse’s ears. They are based on a design used for some Australian stockmen’s bridles.
When I first looked intently at harnessed mules and horses and longed to understand how the system worked, it was the harness that confused me even more than the anatomy and movements of the animals, even more than the overall system. I saw a tangled basket of straps, chains, ropes, all seeming to have purpose. Yes, there were some diagrams in dusty libraries and old books and these did offer basic explanation of the structural design of some harness varieties. But those didn’t help me to understand in a truly useful way. It would be a few years before I would have my own first team and a pile of old harness to figure out. The little bit of book learning and diagram scanning I did failed to educate me. I have told the story before of how my innocence and arrogance got me into big trouble the first time I harnessed and tried to drive a team. Some of that tragedy came from the harness being put on all wrong, making it unable to function properly. That does not need to be the case with newcomers today.