by Budweiser Clydesdale Blog Staff | Nov 28, 2013
It’s what everyone has been waiting for. A regal team of eight draft horses come off the trailer and are harnessed. After they are carefully guided off the truck, they are brushed one final time to ensure they are clean and ready to shine with full majesty. The Clydesdales are then harnessed one at a time from wheel team to lead team, meaning the horses closest to the wagon are harnessed first.
Fez is a nine year old West Coast horse being harnessed here for a beer delivery in San Antonio, TX. Each horse is fitted with a harness that weighs an approximate 130 lbs. per horse, which isn’t much when compared to the hefty 2,000 lbs. each Clydesdale weighs on average. It takes five crew members an estimated 45 minutes to harness all eight horses. There are several steps that must be followed in order to ensure that each harness is secured safely and comfortably.
Typically, harnessing a horse can require the assistance of a second handler, but the experienced Clydesdale handlers are skilled enough to harness each horse on their own. One of the most important steps to take when harnessing a horse is ensuring that each harness component is fully functional. These parts often include the breast collar, breeching, bridle, reins, and saddle. It is important to have a clear understanding of the order in which each of these harness parts must be placed on a horse. The order will vary depending on the discipline, type of harness, and the weight of the load or vehicle being drawn.
However, ensuring the proper harnessing of each Clydesdale requires more than just knowledge and skill. Because harnessing often involves contact with a horse’s face, mouth, and teeth, it is of equal importance for a handler to develop a trusting relationship with each horse. Securing a harness in proper fashion and order guarantees that each horse will be able to safely pull the appropriate cart, vehicle, or other load (such as beer barrels) comfortably.