Rural Heritage Horse Paddock

Horse Power for Organic Farms:
Harness and Equipment

by Ken Laing

The basic brichen work harness for a draft horse may be made of either leather or nylon. Leather is a natural material, beautiful and non abrasive, but it is more expensive, heavier, and when old may fail suddenly and without warning. Nylon is lighter, strong, easier to clean, and about half the price, but is abrasive, ugly, and made from petroleum. You also need a collar for eac.

Old horse equipment is still available that may be bought at auctions, from dealers, or privately. Although the purchase price may be low, repairs are often difficult or impossible to obtain. On the other hand, horse equipment is usually simple in design and can be easily repaired if you have the skills and tools.

More and more new horse equipment is being manufactured as the supply of old equipment is slowly exhausted. Equipment is often built in small shops and is of good quality at reasonable prices. Sometimes small tractor implements may be used with horses, with little or no modification. A forecart is a two-wheeled cart with a long tongue that enables horses to pull vehicles or implements with short tractor tongues. Three-point hitch forecarts allow the use of some 3-point hitch equipment with horses. Ground driven hydraulic forecarts enable horses to pull equipment that needs hydraulic cylinders for raising and lowering. Motorized forecarts enable horses to pull equipment that requires PTO power and/or hydraulics. A good place to see new horse-powered equipment at work is at the annual July trade show Horse Progress Days.

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Ken Laing offered this information in his presentation at a Guelph [Ontario] Organic Conference workshop on using draft horses for farming. He is a member of the Good Farming Apprenticeship Network, offering apprenticeships and workshops for people interested in learning to work with draft horses.

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13 April 2012 last revision