This topic contains 12 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  dominiquer60 3 months ago.

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  • #39335

    Kristin
    Participant

    Can we talk about collars? I worry more about collar fit than any other aspect of harness. And I’m never sure I’m right. Here goes:

    +Our main team came with collars and no pads, which is how they were used by their previous owner. Do you use pads to make a collar fit, or do you use pads because they are better/more comfortable for a horse than a collar alone?

    +Are occasional galls inevitable, or a result of bad collar fit or some other bad decision? We probably get one or two a year, usually disking. What can we do to avoid this?

    +How many collars do you have per horse? We find that neck shape and size change a lot over the course of a season.

    I’ll stop there, though I could go on…

    all best,
    Kristin

    #44996

    Does’ Leap
    Participant

    I fretted about our collars as well. We had an experienced teamster come up and help us measure our horses so that we could buy some new collars (our harnesses didn’t come with any). We all came to the same conclusion on the size using borrowed collars that we were using as a reference.

    When we finally fitted the collars, they were a good 2″ too big. So we used a neck pad on both collars which effectively reduces the collar size in addition to one felt collar pad. We also purchased a deer hair collar which is thicker than the felt – haven’t had to use that yet

    I used the term “fretted” because we had a number of experienced teamsters look at the collar fit during Fairwinds Farm Winter Gathering at our place and all agreed both collars fit well!

    So in answer to one of your questions, we were able to use pads to make our collars fit.

    George

    #44995

    ngcmcn
    Participant

    Kristin, the standard two fingers at the throat and a flat hand along the neck is a good place to start when fitting a collar. Pads are fine to get a slightly better fit, as well as to change out when wet during hot weather. Having a few different collars to try is a good idea. Borrow a few. My mares have adjustable collars that, during the summer i will adjust according how buff they get. You can soak collars in a rain barrel to get a better fit. Jam a bowling ball or something in(like a shoe) to spread it. They can be a lot like fitting a shoe. With a good fit , they take some walking.

    Probably the best way is to with a load, watch how the collar reacts to draft.A tug shackle too low will drive the collar down against the top of the neck and possibly the shoulder. Every step, the collar moves, and rubs, and if its sweaty……….there goes your flesh. the collar needs to seat nicely against the slope of the shoulder. If the tugs angle off funny, can cause problems.

    Good luck

    Neal McNaughten
    Unity, Me.

    #44997

    MuleManDonn
    Keymaster

    yes the fit of the collar is probably the most important fit of the work harness. Here are some observations from other mentors and my own experience.

    I almost alway use a pad. I would happily work a horse with out one but I seldom find one that fits that well. With a pad I like the collar a little closer on the sides of the neck. You still need room to breath at the bottom even when you gently push the collar into the work position, but I don’t want a gap to put my fingers in on the sides. I should be able to easily slide my fingers in at the side but not a gap. another test for the side is, after you push the collar to the shoulders lift it toward the head with one hand at the bottom. It should lift easy, with out resistance, like it was draging on the neck. If it feels tight it is too tight. This from many old mentors. More animals were made sore from loose collars than tight.

    I like adjustable collars for all the reasons listed before, also if you are buying one for a three or four year old you will want to make it bigger next year. I use to use the standard deer hair sweat pad. They would be soaked in the middle of the day. I didn’t have pads to change out. I now use, and much prefer, the foam and vinyl “healing” pad. The vinyl goes against the horse and acts much more like the leather, It doesn’t absorb any sweat. They have the regular blue and white ticking on the out side.

    Finally, make sure the breast strap to brichen connection is the right length. If it is too long the collar will lift with any backing or stoping and this is just like wiggleing around in your shoes, sure to give you a blister. After you put the harness on grab the yoke snap and pull it forward, It should come down in a straight line from the hames but “not” angle in front of the hames. That’s when it will lift the collar. I grab it every time I put on a harness, it let’s me know if I twisted a quarter strap, or if I need to adjust a harness. Maybe I won’t do that all summer but it is a good habit once in a while.

    #44998

    Anonymous

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    #96018

    LarsPrillaman
    Participant

    Hopping onto this thread it would appear about a decade late… BUT!

    Two things this makes me want to ask. Donn, can you clarify your preference for the vinyl pads? Or perhaps that’s changed since this thread started. I would think they don’t breathe well, but I reckon they do wick the sweat away.

    The other question this made me curious about pertains to your comment about breast strap fitting. I’ve only just started driving a team, so this was great to come across. In seeing myself and the gals in pics and videos, I wondered if I have the yoke and thusly their breast straps too far out front. They SEEM to me to be approximately the same angle as the hames, but I’ll ask the experts. I can’t seem to get a photo to load. I’ll keep trying.

    Thanks,
    Lars Prillaman

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  LarsPrillaman.
    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  LarsPrillaman.
    #96021

    Jay
    Participant

    I have gone to using vinyl covered collar pads. They do actually seem to irritate less particularly as they get older. The tick faced pads seem to trap hair and dirt into the surface while the vinyl stays clean. I’ve heard a couple of Amishmen say that they started using a vinyl pad on horses that already had and shoulder sore under the collar and the sore would heal under a vinyl pad. The vinyl seems to last at least as long as the tickfaced pads, in my experience.

    #96022

    Ron
    Participant

    Hi All
    The collar is a very important subject but not well understood and I don’t claim to be an expert but here is my observations. In the late 1950’s and 60’s it was still possible to get real well made collars but they became almost impossible to find by the 1970’s. As such the use of pads grew and grew as people tried to make poorly fitting and poorly made collars work without blistering shoulders. I happen to still have two collars from that golden era and I look after them like they were gold. I have yet to blister a horses neck with one of them but have done so on more then one occasion with the more modern collars. The type and length of straw used, the way the collar is packed, the leather on the collar face and design all goes into a good collar. Collar making is an art as much as a science. Pads really are a mediation attempt to correct the errors made by poor collars. Now having said all that and sounding really negative and at the risk of upsetting people, I do see that some collar makers are getting better and some of the more modern collars are beginning to display the art. Shortages of the proper straw, access to better leather and most important understanding of the way a horse moves is being relearned by the modern collar makers craft and some of the new collars are quite good. I have a whole selection of collars from the last few decades that have to be used with pads though I hate pads for all the obvious reasons but the collars just aren’t good enough to use without them.
    I think of the collar just as a prosthesis for a war vet or an accident victim. If it is poorly made or ill fitting it is useless and worse down right harmful. I am amazed at the patients and steadfastness of draft animals to put up with some of the collars we use. It is a great credit to them. We should follow this topic with one on Hames as well.

    #96023

    dominiquer60
    Moderator

    Great insight on collar quality Ron, especially those of us not fortunate enough to know those golden era collars.

    We use only marine grade vinyl pads. They don’t adsorb sweat and as a result the sweat flushes all the dirt and crap out from under the collar, it is generally the cleanest part of our horses when we unharness on a sweaty day, particularly shows well on the greys. Without the moisture and grime sticking to and building up like on the old canvas pads, the vinyl offers a surface with less friction, and it is because of this cleaner smoother surface you can work animals with skin injuries. We had a mare with a good bite wound in the worst possible place under the collar, with a little salve and a good pad, she healed up good and fast. The base of the vinyl pads are foam and it doesn’t settle or shift so the padding is always where you need it most. Just my 2 cents from my observations.

    Erika

    #96024

    dominiquer60
    Moderator

    Great insight on collar quality Ron, especially those of us not fortunate enough to know those golden era collars.

    We use only marine grade vinyl pads. They don’t adsorb sweat and as a result the sweat flushes all the dirt and crap out from under the collar, it is generally the cleanest part of our horses when we unharness on a sweaty day, particularly shows well on the greys. Without the moisture and grime sticking to and building up like on the old canvas pads, the vinyl offers a surface with less friction, and it is because of this cleaner smoother surface you can work animals with skin injuries. We had a mare with a good bite wound in the worst possible place under the collar, with a little salve and a good pad, she healed up good and fast. The base of the vinyl pads are foam and it doesn’t settle or shift so the padding is always where you need it most. Just my 2 cents from my observations.

    Erika

    #96025

    Ron
    Participant

    Hi Erika
    Should the face of a modern collar be made out of the same kind of Marine vinyl? Would that be a step forward?
    Cheers
    Ron

    #96050

    MuleManDonn
    Keymaster

    I think it would be hard to make those materials durable enough. A collar needs to be tough enough to hold up to a lot of pressure being dissipated through the collar. A pad can spread it out further, but can also be disposable after 2- or three years depending on the miles. A good collar will there for last that much longer.

    #96065

    dominiquer60
    Moderator

    With the current vinyl quality, Donn is correct, it won’t stand up to the abuse that leather can take year after year. The pads will eventually check and crack as they get old, which is sooner than a collar is ready to be replaced.

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