Tag Archives: carriage driving

Four Things to Know about Showing in the Pleasure Driving Ring

Summer is here and so is the pleasure driving show season!  Just getting started in carriage driving?  Here are a few things to know before you go to your first carriage driving show.

  1. “Brown or russet harness is appropriate for vehicles of natural wood finish, black harness with painted vehicles.”¹ In all cases your lines are not dyed.
  2. The metal on the harness should match the metal on the carriage. For example, the brass turret rings on your harness saddle should be matched with a brass rein rail on the carriage.  The horse’s bit is not required to match the rest of the metal.
  3. There are three things that every driver should have – an driving apron or lap robe, gloves and a hat.  Your gloves should be brown leather.  Helmets are encouraged.  “A driver’s summer apron is made long enough to reach from a little below the waist to just above the ankles and wide enough to be tucked under the legs at both sides.”²
  4. Driving whips are required.  A proper whip should reach the horse’s shoulder when the driver is seated.  The whip should be in the driver’s hand, not left in the whip holder. ³  (A well balanced whip is worth investing in!)


  • Be sure to clean and polish your harness, carriage and horse!  Even if you don’t have the most expensive turnout in the ring you can catch the judge’s eye by having a really polished turnout.
  • Read the show’s rules.  They can and do differ from organization to organization.

Good luck and have fun!


  1. Driving the Horse in Harness by Charles Kellogg
  2. Carriage Turnouts: Guidelines for the users of horse-drawn vehicles edited by Tom Ryder  Available for purchase here.
  3. American Driving Society Rule Book – Article 8: “An appropriate whip should be carried in hand at all times while driving. The thong on the whip should be long enough to reach the shoulder of the farthest horse.”


Some Driving Hints for Beginners: The Collar, Breast Collars (Part 1)

The Collar

The harness collar has been defined as that part of the harness against which the horse pushes to move a load. There are two main types of harness collars; the breast collar which consists of a strap that passes horizontally around the horse’s breast and the round or neck collar which is placed at the base of the horse’s neck and follows the line of the horse’s shoulders. Traces are attached at each side of both collars to connect them to the vehicle.

Because the breast collar lies close to the join between the shoulder and the upper arm or humerus, it must be able to move with the movement of that joint; therefore, it should only be used with a whiffletree or some similar device on the vehicle that can swivel about a center coupling.

Breast collars are made in a number of different types and sizes, of which the following illustrations show the major styles and benefits.

Breast collars for use with fixed pole carriages are provided with a heavy-metal dee for the attachment of the pole pieces.

Folded Buggy Collar
Folded Buggy Collar with trace buckles. this example has a folded lining that covers the edges of the collar and is secured with a straight layer on the outside of the collar. The buckles are of west-end wire pattern and there is a leather safe under the buckle. A waved layer on both the collar and the neck strap is an alternative pattern.

Curved Front Single Strap Collar
Curved Front Single Strap Collar cut from solid harness leather and the edges are beveled. It has a layer along the center and safes under the buckles.

Double Harness Breast Collar
Double Harness Breast Collar has buckles in front of the tug buckles for a breast collar iron to which the neck-yoke is attached. this type of collar is not suitable for use with a fixed-pole carriage and pole pieces.

Surrey Harness Breast Collar
Surrey Harness Breast Collar, 2 1/2 inches wide, this collar is made of either enameled or grain folded leather with safe at the end of the fold under the buckle. There is a straight layer sewn along the center between the loops. It has two buckles at each side for a split neck strap. The folded collar is much to be preferred, especially for heavier work, as it offers greater protection for the horse’s skin.

Swiss Breast Collar
Swiss Breast Collar, 2 3/4 wide, this pattern is made of fairly heavy leather folded along the center so that the two edges meet at the bottom. It has two buckles at each side for a split neck strap and a straight layer along the center between the loops.

Straight Buggy Collar with Traces Attached
Straight Buggy Collar with Traces Attached This example is made of a single strap, two inches wide, with 1 1/4 inch traces which have three adjustment slots at the ends. The edges of the leather should be rounded to avoid rubbing the horse’s skin.

Read part two of the series here – /driving-hints-beginners-collar-neck-collars-part-2/