Neck collars are also made in a variety of styles and with different fillings. The best types are filled with long rye straw, but these have to be hand made and are expensive and difficult to obtain. Another type is machine stuffed with short straw and, if well made, is perfectly satisfactory. Also available are some modern types that may have rims made with metal tubing and the body filled with plastic or other material. The rim is at the front of the collar and is made of a leather tube stuffed tightly with straw or other material. The body of the collar is attached to the rim, leaving a channel on the outside into which the metal hames are fitted. Formerly a horse was measured for a new collar and the collar was made to fit the horse. This is seldom possible today, but it is necessary to obtain a collar that is a good fit and of a size and weight suitable for the work it is intended to do.
A collar should lie properly against the horses shoulders and, when the hames are fitted and tightened, it should fit evenly all round and should not exert any greater pressure on one part than another. At the throat (the bottom part of the collar) it should leave a small amount of space so that there is no pressure on the windpipe. It is better that a collar should appear to be a fairly tight fit when new rather than on the loose side.
Neck collars are usually sold by size, this being the measurement taken inside the collar from the throat to the cap, but a true fit requires that the lateral dimensions must also be exact. These dimensions can be changed to a limited extent by adjusting the hames. If the collar is too wide at the bottom, it can be made more narrow by shortening the hame strap at the bottom and lettiner out the strap at the top by an equal amount. At the same time, obviously, this will increase the width the bottom hame strap is let out and the top one shortened. It may be necessary to bend the hames to bring the collar to the exact shape desired. A special tool is needed to bend hames and, if the hames are closeplated, this must be done with great care, preferably by an expert.
When putting a neck collar on the horse, it is best to take off the hames and open the collar by stretching it over the knee. This avoids having to force the collar past the horse’s eyes, a procedure that may cause a sensitive horse to react violently.
Read part one of the series here – /driving-hints-beginners-collar-breast-collars-part-1/