Dividing and Multiples: A Post on Harness Conversion from Nana Janie
Convert Single Harness to Pair:
Goran and Gerda tell me somebody was asking recently and they want to know if they can take their single harness and use it as part of a pair or team harness. Indeed, you can certainly use a single harness to be part of a team/pair harness! You just need a few parts:
- First, since a single harness has shaft loops and a pair harness does not, you will need to trade in your regular shaft loops for straps which will buckle on to the saddle where the shaft loops used to attach. These straps will be long enough to go from the ring on the saddle down to the buckle on the over girth with no shaft loop. (Goran thinks the name for these is hysterical… they are called cheater straps. Who, he wonders, might be getting cheated?!)
- Second, the breast collars on a pair harness have rings on them which are used to attach the pole straps. A harness which does not have rings on the breast collar – common among singles harnesses – will need to one of these two options:
- Have rings stitched onto the breast collar you already have – which you can easily do by calling us and sending your collar to our harness shop, OR
- Purchase another breast collar equipped with rings to use when you want to drive a pair.
- You’ll also need to have pole straps – one for each horse in the team to go from the pole to the breast collar. Rings on the breast collar are located on each side so that the harness can be used on either side of the hitch.
- You might need pair lines. Gerda already has some with SuperGrip, which she says she will share with Goran.
- Single lines are straight so there is one rein on either side of the horse’s mouth and two lines in the driver’s hands.
- Pair lines are like a Y with two lines in front for the horse’s mouth – joined at a ring to a single strap going back to the driver. The driver has two lines in his hand the horses have 2 in each mouth.
- It is very useful to have trace carriers when driving a pair or multiples to keep the traces from drooping and being a danger to the horses. Not everyone uses trace holders with single harness, but we believe it’s important to have them with a pair.
- A pair harness also needs a way to connect the back-hold or hold back straps. On pleasure harness hold backs wrap around the shafts, forming an X and then buckle back to themselves. A multiple hitch with a pole has no shafts to connect to. There are two ways around this problem:
- Goran likes the idea of using longer hold back straps (called side hold backs) with snaps and attaching them to a ring on the girth.
- Gerda doesn’t like that idea – it reminds her of the look of a work harness. She wants to use Pair Side Rigging which allows the side hold back straps (which are a bit longer) to connect straight along the side of the horse to a ring. Then the front section of the Pair Side Rigging connects to the ring on the breast collar while the last strap connects to the over girth. This way everything is tidy, secure and smooth along the side, essentially blocked from view by the traces.
Convert Pair Harness to Single:
Their friends who also have harness animals (in this case goats) want to know if they can divide their pair harness to drive one goat at a time. Certainly, they can! Any harness made for a pair has almost all the parts needed to use it with one goat, horse, donkey, mini, unicorn, etc. If you want to drive two different goats at the same time as singles and you have a pair harness, you will simply need enough of the parts listed below for 2 animals:
- First, since there are no shaft loops on a pair harness, you need to have a slightly different sort of cheater strap attached to the saddle so that they can buckle on their Shaft Loops – it doesn’t matter what sort of shaft loop is used – Standard Closed Loops, Quick Release Shaft Loops, French Tugs – they all need to buckle onto the saddle.
- Second, you will need to have single lines.
- Third, you might want to have standard length hold backs, rather than longer side hold backs. Not everyone would need these; some drivers like to put an extra wrap of the hold back on the shaft