Testimonial: Finding the Perfect Breast Collar

Sometimes we have a pony come along that doesn’t seem to work well in a variety of breast collars. One of the things about Chimacum Tack is we are willing to work with you, exploring options, to find the perfect fit!

This is a testimonial from our customer, Joanne Pue from Canada. Her mare Dove had shown her that the regular style breast collars weren’t working for her. Below is her story!


Dove is a tall, long legged B mini with her front end being an A size and her back end a B size.  She has a tiny chest, low set, slab sided neck and small shoulders.  I have tried 8 different breastplates (Camptown deep V, CF Standard curve, Yonies reg. Curve, 3 straight, neck collar etc.) which I have borrowed or bought and while she does her job she is not comfortable and doesn’t push enough into it or stride out in the front end.  Dove is a very sensitive little horse.  Could the breastplate be squeezing her small chest and shoulders?
So, what am I to do??  I have spent hundreds of hours on the internet searching for an answer.  I suspect that Dove’s front end is similar to a Donkey so I contacted Janie to find out more.
Janie kindly sent me a paper pattern of the Donkey breastplate which Nelson says can be made to my specifications of 2” wide including the leather padding.  She has very little room between the base of her neck and the points of her shoulders.  It seems to fit Dove better because the dip and shoulder curves are minimal.  The only way to know for sure is to buy it and try it.
I found that her issues with the original deep V didn’t show up for some time but she has always seemed a little lazy and that may have contributed to it.  My body work practitioner told me that Dove was shrugging her shoulders to take the pressure off her sternum because the deep V didn’t suit her conformation and that was when the long search for a better fit began.   I only wish I had known why she didn’t seem quite right a lot sooner.

**I will insert here that the Deep V, Deluxe style breast collar, is not suited to EVERY equine. In fact it doesn’t seem to work very well for donkeys especially. I found that for Zorro it didn’t allow him a free shoulder when trotting. He would raise his head and shorten his stride when I used that style breast collar.

I am extremely frustrated by all this and just want to solve the issue once and for all.  Dove usually seems better after I make a change for a while because the old discomfort is alleviated until the new change eventually causes issues.  Occasionally she tells me within a drive or two that she is very unhappy.


Janie called the harness maker and they worked together to come up with a plan. We sent Joanne a donkey style breast collar, made to her specifications, and here is what she has to say!



I have been meaning to write you for months to thank you for your invaluable suggestions regarding finding the perfect breastplate for my mini mare, Dove.
After consultations with you and Janie, I had a custom made donkey breastplate designed for Dove. The shape was exactly like the donkey breastplate but I had it made narrower (only 2” wide) to fit her tiny chest.  I think the slight curves fit her small chest much better. Janie kindly and generously did not charge me for it because of all the difficulties I had had.  She is really a gem.  It was the 10th breastplate I tried and a clear winner!
I am thrilled to say that after several months of driving Dove is still happy with it and I am ecstatic!  We drive on very flat ground with bumps and potholes.  The only “hill” is going up or down from the ocean dyke so a heavy duty breastplate is not necessary.
I also purchased the Shetland Superflex collar you had shipped to me from Ontario.  I had intended to trade back and forth between the two systems if she got uncomfortable but so far it has not been necessary.  If we do hill work I will use it then.  Dove’s chest has expanded a little this year (her blanket fits one hole looser now) and I credit the breastplate with making her more comfortable.
My next purchase will be the shaped girth with 1” buckles to fit her Zilco saddle.  She has a freakishly wide spine and the Zilco pads are adjustable with Velcro.  Dove also has an extra long elbow with a very definite forward girth groove so it will be a custom girth with a slightly modified shape.

I really appreciate that Joanne was willing to take the time to figure out what exactly her mare needed. So often we think things are fine only to have our horse or pony end up not able to be driven later due to them being uncomfortable or even injured by their harness. Poor harness fit can even cause them to be explosive, reactive and “naughty”. Behavior issues are almost always due to pain. Noticing the small things means the world to our equines.

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