Horse Hardware – Harnessing a Draft Horse

Written By Rachel Novak

There are many kinds of harnesses used in conjunction with pulling horses. From racing horses who carry a very lightweight cart to large draft horses that pull thousands of pounds, owners must provide working horses with the proper harnesses and equipment to make sure the animal and driver stay safe. Productivity and safety rely upon properly fitting, properly functioning harnesses of the correct style.

How can you keep your horse in place safely? What happens if your horse, donkey, or mule needs to move quickly due to an emergency? Can you get the animal unharnessed quickly?

At Henssgen Hardware, we provide panic snaps and other sturdy horse gear, all with high-quality metal construction. In this article, we’ll discuss common types of horse hardware, what types of materials make the most durable products, and the types of hardware you need for a horse harness.

Equine/Horse Hardware

There are many different snaps, rings, and pieces of hardware that combine to create the right horse harness for your animals based on the activities they need to perform.

. Panic Snap

Panic snaps have quick-release mechanisms so they can detach quickly, as well as a swiveling head that minimizes any unnecessary movement constriction. These snaps provide the animal’s head with more freedom of motion if you need to attach their harness to a wall or gate. A panic snap attached to a lead lets them glance around the area and behind them so they don’t get startled or spooked. This is an ideal attachment if you need to secure the animal in between feeding, cleaning, or exercise.

Panic snaps are also useful in the event of an emergency. Operators can quickly detach the snap and lead animals away from danger, such as a fire, with minimal delay. Each snap has a large moveable bar for easy gripping and release, as well as an engraved arrow to let users know what direction to move the catch to release the animal.


dee steel ring. D-Ring/Dee-Ring

D-rings are the D-shaped, semicircular pieces of metal that straps, snaps, and ropes can attach to. They’re popular components for leads and harnesses because users can securely tie harness elements together. The metal used to make D-rings is resistant to corrosion, withstands physical damage and the elements, and has a smooth finish that won’t irritate horses.

D-ring harnesses are commonly used with draft and cart horses. They’re easy to put on and take off horses because the simple design doesn’t include quarter or pole straps. It only has a belly band along the underside of the horse. D-rings allow for easy wear and adjustment throughout the course of the day.


Other Horse Harness Hardware

Henssgen Hardware designs, manufactures, and distributes a range of additional hardware for securing and protecting horses, such as:

  • Round rings
  • Harness eye bolt snaps with fixed and swivel connectors
  • Bull snaps that offer quick connections and single-handed operation with fixed- and swivel-eye connectors
  • Snaps

Each product type comes in a wide variety of materials and sizes.


Materials Used

We work with high-quality metals that provide long-last performance in outside applications thanks to smooth finishes and high corrosion resistance. The four metals most common for horse-related products include:

  • Welded steel. Stainless steel resists corrosion, making it a safe choice for use in the rain, in exterior applications, and on horse harnesses where the components are exposed to sweat.
  • Die cast zinc alloy. These parts feature a zinc alloy body and nickel plating for additional durability and luster.
  • Solid brass. Brass features a lustrous golden finish, making it a popular choice for visible hardware like gate fixtures and hooks in stables.
  • Malleable iron. Malleable iron parts are made from sand castings and tumbled to a smooth finish.

Horse Harness Basics

Harnesses are a type of tack, typically for a horse, and are designed to help pull heavy loads. We tend to see these horse-drawn vehicles hauling equipment on the farm, such as plows, wagons, or sleighs. The two main types of horse harnesses are breast straps and breast collars, and it’s important to know the difference to ensure the safety of your horse and your load.

Breast strap harnesses are typically used for light work, such as the light carts seen with standard-bred horse racing, or other light hauls. This type of harness delegates the weight of the load to the sternum of the horse and near the windpipe. For heavier loads, it’s important that the weight is delegated to the strongest part of the horse, or you can put the safety of your horse in jeopardy. That’s where the breast collar harness comes in.

A breast collar harness places the weight onto the horse’s shoulders. This is important—if a load is too heavy, a breast strap can damage the horse’s windpipe and restrict air supply. Allowing the horse to pull a load using its shoulders ensures your horses are going to stay safe and optimizes their energy when carrying heavy loads.


Parts of The Harness

Horse harnesses are made up of numerous components:

  • Hames: A metal or wooden strip that takes the full force of the pull. The hames is used in a breast collar harness.
  • Breeching: The strap around the horse’s haunches. This part of the harness allows it to set back and slow whatever is being hauled. The breeching is typically hooked to the shafts or pole of the load.
  • Traces: The straps or chains that take the pull from the breast collar (or hames) to the load.
  • Harness saddle: A small piece that acts as a support for the harness, located on the horse’s back.
  • Girth: A strap that goes around the belly of the horse and attaches to the harness saddle.
  • Crupper: A soft padded loop that is placed under the horse’s tail. This is important because it keeps the harness from slipping forward.
  • Tugs: Loops attached to the back band to hold up the shaft of a wagon or wheeled vehicle.
  • Terrets: Metal loops on the saddle and collar that support the reins.


Contact Us for Your Horse Harness Hardware

For over 25 years, Henssgen Hardware has been designing and manufacturing metal snaps, hardware, and fasteners for a variety of recreational and industrial needs. Contact us today to learn more about our horse hardware or request a quote to get started with your order.