I’m trying to fit a collar to a new horse I just got and I can’t seem to get it right. It seems close to fitting but the problem is it’s too tight on the sides a few inches below his mane, but it fits okay on the sides down lower. I’m also not sure how it should fit at the bottom of his neck above his chest. I see some horses that have a lot of space there and others with the collar almost touching the bottom of the neck. My guess is it’s a little too long there.
Back in the early eighties, when we were on an extended road trip up to Ontario, Canada and back through New England to Ohio Amish country, we had occasion to visit a small collar making shop where Kristi took these photos. We recently had to move our archives and I found these pictures in an envelope. I do not remember whose shop it was and have lost any notes that I took. But I vividly recall the action in the first photo as it mechanically stuffed chopped straw into the shaped leather tube which would become a work collar. The second apparatus was a size specific press for shaping the stuffed collar form. And the last tool pictured is a stretching table where the anchored, nearly complete collar was gently beat with a wide round hammer to even out any lumps in the stuffing.
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.
Collar fit is critical and the various styles of collars help us to accomplish this. A horse with a flat sided neck will be best served by a full face collar, A horse with a thick upper neck will be best served by a half or full sweeney collar. Notice the apparent dip in the upper section on these styles. This allows the collar to seat down against the face of the animal’s shoulder rather than rocking on a thick neck and causing a sore shoulder.
The work harness prevalent in North America over the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries evolved slowly to its unique design. Stemming in the beginning from European engineering, which may have their origins reaching back to Greco-Roman and even Egyptian and Phoenecian ages, the primary influence has been the demands of function. Rather than get into arguments about what harness type or design is best, the purpose of this work is to build an introduction worthy of harness makers and arm-chair historians.