When starting a young driving horse it can be daunting shopping for the right equipment. So, often we will venture out to social media and ask for some help. That can complicate things even further because it seems there are as many opinions as there are types of horses and each person believes their way is the only way. It can get so confusing!
Should I buy a harness for my young horse or is a long lining kit a better choice? And what is a biting rig?
The long lining kit has been designed for those that love to do in hand work, long reining, ground driving, in hand dressage, etc. This kit has a ComfyFit style saddle, either treed or treeless. It comes with the English bridle, yacht rope long lines, and Yacht Rope buckle adapters. It also comes with a permasoft back pad.
The purpose of this kit is to work in hand, on a circle or in straight lines, helping our horses or ponies learn to properly use their body. This is most often done in an arena or a well groomed area where you can focus on helping the horse or pony lift their shoulder, work on the bit and in collection, go over trotting poles and other obstacles.
Here is a blog about long lining and ground driving: Tuesday Tip – Long Lining and Ground Driving
I also use mine for ground driving, when I take Zorro or Sky out for long walks on the long lines. I like to do this often to mix things up and give them something different to do. When I ground drive I will send them across water, through sage bushes, we climb some rock formations (that are easy for 4 legged animals to climb over!), we walk on the road and go on mountain trails, we explore old logging roads.
The long lining kit can be used to prepare a young horse for the harness but it is absolutely NOT necessary. If you don’t have any intention of doing lots of in hand, ground work then simply purchasing the harness straight off is a perfectly good idea. The harness itself can be used to do all I mentioned above.
The biting rig is used to “help” a driving horse develop a head set. This rig comes with a treeless saddle and an open bridle that has side check rings. It also comes with side reins. **DISCLAIMER!! If you don’t know how to adjust side reins then this kit is not for you. If you don’t have access to a trainer that can hands on teach you how to use side reins and a check rein then this kit is not for you. This should only be used by people who know and understand how to set a horse up correctly.
The biting rig is most often used in a round pen or arena situation where the horse or pony is going around and around, learning where to keep their poll and nose, learning about contact through the side reins and figuring out head set in harness.
It is possible to use the biting rig as you would the long lining kit, but it isn’t designed so much with the horse’s comfort in mind. And it doesn’t offer the stability that the long lining kit does when doing different maneuvers on the ground. The biting rig is missing one of the stabilizing back straps as shown in the photo above. I have used both and personally prefer the long lining kit for the ground work I do!
Should I buy a long lining kit or simply buy a harness?
If you are going to be doing some in hand work, long lining and ground driving, then I do suggest purchasing the long lining kit to begin with. It is a great starting point! And it’s something you will go back to over and over in the years to come.
If your main goal is to get your horse or pony into the harness and then into the cart and don’t plan on doing ground driving and long lining, then going straight for the harness is the way to go. There are many people out there that simply can’t do the hours and miles of ground driving that I personally do, and that is perfectly fine! We all go about this in different ways. Getting your horse or pony into the cart and then putting miles on that way is absolutely acceptable.
The long lining kit or biting rig can NOT be used to hitch to anything, not even a travois. There are no shaft loops and no way to attach shafts to the saddle. There isn’t a breeching or a breast collar. So both of these sets are strictly for ground work.
The harness will come with the breast collar, breeching, shaft loops and traces necessary to attach your horse to a vehicle or travois.
Hopefully this will narrow things down for our beginner drivers! As well as answer questions about what the difference is between the biting rig and the long lining kit.
If you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 224-HAR-NESS (224-427-6377)
The Biting Rig: https://chimacumtack.com/product/bitting-rig/
The Long Lining Kit: https://chimacumtack.com/product/comfy-fit-long-lining-harness/
Our Harness Sets: https://chimacumtack.com/product-category/harnesses/