What models of breast harnesses are there?

The width of the chest strap of a chest harness depends on the weight your horse or pony has to pull. The heavier the load, the wider the chest strap will also be. On average, the breast strap is 10 to 12 centimetres wide, say a hand width. This is wide enough to distribute the load of the carriage properly across the horse's chest.

Much narrower is the competition harness for harness horse riders. Those horses only have a competition carriage to pull and the breastplate is therefore often no wider than 5 centimetres. Besides this narrow chest for harness horses, you basically have 4 different models, namely English harness, French harness, the straight chest and, since a few years, the anatomically shaped chest.

English harness

English harness is used in traditional riding and for presentation in dressage. If you want to appear very chic, take English harnesses. And if you want to get your bearings on traditional harnesses, carriage rides are the way to see many of them. Then also pay attention to the location. You will regularly see a harness where one or both horses have the harness hanging like a chain around their neck. In that case, optimal traction and pressure distribution are out of the question! Traditional harnesses are very beautiful, but also very expensive, and every horse has its own fitting one.

French harness

French gareel was traditionally not very popular, mainly because it was very plump and actually much too coarse for a luxury KWPN or luxury pony. As a result, you saw French girth mainly on draft horses, haflingers and fjords. However, a new model came on the market, developed from Germany. Also Ideal Equestrian has recently added this model to its range. It is somewhat cut up at the shoulder and tends a little towards anatomical breasts. As a result, the French girth has become more popular. For example, you see it more often these days with four-horse riders, where the rear team runs with French girth and the front team with a regular breast harness. A French harness also allows the horse to pull more with the shoulder than just the chest. The pressure is distributed more over the shoulder, neck and chest, making it more horse-friendly at the same time. The French harness is therefore very suitable as a competition harness for today's driving competitions. Especially in the marathon, because a French harness pulls comfortably. It allows the horse or pony to accelerate optimally when needed.

Standard chest harness

In addition to the aforementioned English and French threads, we of course have the old-fashioned, standard chest harness. The advantage of this breast is that it fits your horse quite quickly. English girth comes very precisely, which is not adjustable and may or may not fit. French girth also listens a bit more precisely, but is adjustable. A regular breast actually always fits, if bought at the right size.

Anatomical chest harness

Because such a standard wide chest harness runs over the shoulder, the anatomical chest harness was also developed. At Zilco This type of anatomical breast is called the Empathy and at Ideal this is called the Freestyle. These anatomical breast harnesses are very popular. The anatomical chest is cut up at the shoulder, which, especially in short turns, gives the horse more freedom of movement than the standard, straight chest. Recently, I did hear that the anatomical chest can put a bit more pressure on the horse's neck. Therefore, you see a development in that too. You used to just have a slightly wider strap as a neck strap and now a kind of mini withers/necks developed as a neck strap to distribute pressure even more.


The Menner is a dealer of Zilco as well as Ideal Equestrian. We can supply all harnesses from both manufacturers. Even a combination of the 2 brands is possible (such as a leather bridle with a Zilco harness).

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