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Following not so hard on the heels of the saddle tree bar tip/shoulder clearance discussion I`d like to begin a thread on breast collar design and attachment points. Acknowledging that use of any particular breast collar will depend amongst other things on the intended riding discipline, terrain, saddle design and personal preferences I'd like to focus this discussion at least for now on western trail riding using quarter horse type and draft crosses.

I ride a modified association saddle and use a packer style breast collar with an added over the neck support strap. My breast collar attaches to the saddle via the 7/8 position D cinch ring. Here's a link to the breast collar type I`m refering to:

http://www.sawtoothsaddle.com/large-photo.php?imageName=218.jpg&subFolder=store

This saddle gets used for mainly for trail riding, packing and guiding in mountainous terrain. A while back local long time packers and guides got me started using a packer style breast collar of varying widths. One concern that seems to reoccur is the attachment point. Attaching off the cinch D ring vs a 1" D attached somewhere on the front bar. Some folks even suggest attaching below the traditional D cinch ring directly to the latigo. This to me is too low as well as sloppy. Do you folks have any insights regarding shoulder interaction with various attachment points for this type of breast collar?

The growing trend of more western saddles having flat plate dropped rigging may in part explain the prevalence of pull style yoke breastcollars designed for pommel or horn attachment. This set up however isn't used so much for mountain riding. My question right now is targeted to avoiding shoulder interference in low slung breast collar that come over the scapula as opposed to crossing above it.

Edited by jdalberta1

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The breast collar you posted looks more like a 'tripping' collar than the typical packing breast collar, but I could be wrong. I've spent alot of time with packers, outfitters and guides and found that not only do they have alot of experiences, ideas, and mostly opinions, they also are more (exuse the the phrase, as no disrespect is intended) 'behind the times'. At least the old-timers are...

If you look at the skeletal make-up of a horse, you'll find that although breast collars are meant to keep the saddle forward they also inhibit the shoulder joints full range. When a breast collar is attached via the D ring on your rigging, the tugs come right across the shoulder joint; when attaching via a D ring on the front bars, the tugs also come across the shoulder joint but at a higher angle. However, when attaching via a D ring to the upper part of the saddle, just below the horn and swells, you'll see that there is no interference with the breast collar and shoulder joint (by using a Martingale type breast collar). But using this point of attachment will not allow the breast collar to do its job in a trail riding situation.

I wouldn't worry about interfering with the scapula too much, as the majority of it is up under your saddle, hence the 'withers'. And your saddle blanket will (or should) cover most of the spine of the scapula, so no worries there. Its mostly the neck and base and of course the joint where the scapula meets the humerus (shoulder joint) that will have most interaction with the tugs.

I myself would attach it 1st to the D ring on the front bars, and if there isn't a D there, I'd attach it (last resort) to the D ring on the rigging. But not if its dropped rigging... I don't think your mod. association has dropped rigging though...? I agree, attaching to the riggin D is sloppy and used more by ppl who don't know any better. I'd hate to have those tugs flopping around and run a stick through there and find yourself in a wreck... In the hills, using the martingale type would serve no purpose.

If you were to ask an "old time" outfitter he'd probably tell you to use the packing breast collar, as thats what he's used and its done him no harm. And he probably has 6 spares hanging in the tack shed! But that doesn't make it right.

To me I'd rather have the wider leather, more typical breast collar. In my opinion they are more ergonomically correct (if I can use that term), and don't hinder the shoulder joint as much as a typical packing collar. When going up steep hills etc I'd like my saddle horse to have a freer range of motion, and as my saddle horse I'd probably be putting him in different situations/paths than the pack horses. If I need to get infront of the pack string, or get out off the trail I'd like the reassurace of knowing that a) my breast collar tugs are not flopping around and b> my breast collar is serving its purpose of keeping my saddle forward so I'm not sliding back on my horse and soring him.

If the breast collar is done up properly, there shouldn't be any need for a hobble up and over the neck. But riding different horses will tell you if you need one or not...

You'll also notice that pack horses not only have the breast collar in the front they also have the britchin in the back. This helps keep the load centered. Enter the rear cinch....

That being said, its just as important to have your rear cinch in the proper postion and SUCKED UP! Don't be afraid to pull the cinches in him. You won't hurt him and it'll keep you saddle from sliding back and forth. You rear cinch is there for a reason - USE IT! Thats probably the biggest problem with ppl in the hills, and could very well be one of the most important - the rear cinch. Its there for a reason, use it and use it properly, and you'll find your horse won't get sore from your saddle moving or from a sore back, both caused by improper saddle position.

Help your breast collar out by using your rear cinch - your horse will thank you for it after a long day in the hills!

Sorry to be so long winded laugh.gif Hope I helped a little... thumbsup.gif

Edited by Hooligan

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Good reply thanks Hooligan. We're pretty much like minded so far.You're correct in that my rigging is not drop plated but rather double D ringed in 7/8 position. Yeah I've seen a lot of IMHO overly skinny breast collars attached at the cinch D being used in steep terrain. That can't be comfortable for the horse on long uphills and often restrict the windpipe.

Here's an example of the type of breastcollar I use. Doing a bit of web surfing reveals that this type of breast collar is as you pointed out more frequently called a tripping collar:

http://leatherworker.net/forum/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-8118-12671351608_thumb.jpg

Note that it's attached to the cinch D but appears to be too tight and is placed too high on the breast threatens to restrict the windpipe. The saddle may have been slipped back on that long uphill climb but it doesn't appear to be way back. The use of over the neck keeper I find necessary because of the tendency for a tripping collar to slip too low on the breast and shoulder when adjusted properly with about 2" or 3" of slack on level terrain.

Raising the saddle attachment point typically tilts tripping collars too causing it to dig in on uphills. I`m toying with adding 1" D's to my front bars but am not yet sure about placement. Most comercial saddles rig there Breast collar D's quite high either just below the gullet or close by the front concho. That a good set up for roping and ranch work but not ideal for trail riding as you've pointed out. I`m leaning towards a fairly low attachment back to the bar tips mid point.

Any thoughts on a tripper with double tug strap per side set up? Having a high and low pull direction may give the saddle a broader stability range say to cover things like a hard sideways dally pull like when ponying or roping as well as for hill climbing?

I always try and keep my rear cinch snug and vertical or slightly to the rear on a saddle horse.

breast collar.JPG

post-8118-12671351608_thumb.jpg

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I agree that attatching your tugs to the rigging Dees (as in the picture) is not the best, especially with the breast collar you are using. If you look at the horse before you start riding, most times the front of the collar will be below the Dees. As the saddle starts to move back when traveling up an incline, the breast collar will move up the chest level with the Dees. This puts the collar in the wind pipe and can restrict breathing and cause discomfort and often times panic in the animal.

I have used the "old timer", tripping, or pulling collar most of my life and have never had a problem with shoulder restriction. I run my tugs directly to my latigos. The neck strap is adjusted so that the collar "hangs" level. If I know that I will be doing some heavy roping, I will run tugs from the breast collar to both the rigging Dees and the cincha rings. Also, I do not use a center strap (the one from the collar between the legs to the Cincha). If the breast collar is adjusted correctly I do not see a need for it.

While on the subject of breast collars, they are as many styles as there are saddles. Each one has its own advantages and uses. I have talked with other saddle makers and each of us has a different opinion as to which is the best style as well as the best place to rig it up. The best advise I can give is to try different styles and use the one that works best for you and the type of riding you do. Conformation, proper saddle fit and padding will also aid in your choice of breast collars.

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I know of one other person who attaches the tugs directly to the latigo. In my mind this places the pull too low for a couple of reasons. This set up requires very long tugs that can create a hazard in brush especially when the horse bends. Potential musculoskeletal interference may be an issue as well. Thirdly such a low attachment point places strain on the often less than robust underjocky leather used to join the cinch D ring to the tree. The intended directional pull of this critical piece is downward at the girth not forwards. It`ll work but it's less than ideal in the long term. Kinda like attaching a trailer ball hitch to a truck fender instead of the frame.

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Then again I could be entirely wrong :notworthy: How much relief does your tripping collar have at center? Maybe I should build one with more relief because other than that I still prefer a tripping style to a roping/pulling style breast collar.

Please tell me what you think of this set up as pictured. I started that days ride with a three inches of slack at the windpipe but it looks to be riding too high here. Perhaps slackening the neck keeper would do the trick.

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I'm finding this thread interesting and decided to toss my two cents worth in. I prefer to use a roper style breast collar, both for working and for pleasure riding....partly because that is mostly what we used when I was growing up, partly because I think it does a better job. We did use tripping style collars some while working but most everyone I was around used roper style breast collars. I personally don't see the advantage s of a tripping collar in everyday use.

I think a lot of folks worry too much about shoulder restriction with breast collars. To me the degree of restriction they are worried about just doesn't exist...or...they are relying on breast collars to compensate for improperly fitting and improperly cinched saddles which move way too much... and I think this is more often the case. A properly fitting and properly cinched saddle should not move a lot! I whole heartedly agree with using back cinches and dismiss the arguments against them as pure bunk! Additionally I have seen a couple of folks get in trouble with ill-fitting martingale supports when their horse puts his head down and the martingale falls too far forward...that just isn't my favorite setup. For me a properly fitted and adjusted roper/pulling style breast collar fills the bill.

There is another factor which comes in to play and I don't know how to put this without it sounding bad. That is there are an awful lot of pleasure riders and horse enthusiasts who are just not knowledgeable about their horses or their equipment....primarily because they are constantly mislead down at the local tack & feed store by the delivery driver who is filling in on the sales floor for the gal who normally works there and who learned from the old delivery driver! Consequently they develop opinions and points of few based on false premises learned from other uninformed enthusiasts and shop owners. Well intentioned riders are often sold ill fitting, substandard equipment and when their saddle with one cinch slides all over their horses back and makes him sore they are sold a thicker saddle pad and an ill fitting breast collar to fix the problem! You can see where I'm going here. It's a darn tough deal for someone just starting out!

Anyway, I could get real carried away here, but that's my take on the use of breast collars.....

Bobby

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Then again I could be entirely wrong notworthy.gif How much relief does your tripping collar have at center? Maybe I should build one with more relief because other than that I still prefer a tripping style to a roping/pulling style breast collar.

Please tell me what you think of this set up as pictured. I started that days ride with a three inches of slack at the windpipe but it looks to be riding too high here. Perhaps slackening the neck keeper would do the trick.

Looking at the picture, I don't see anything wrong with the collar. In my opinion the tugs are wrong. By running the tugs to the rigging Dees, they are higher than the collar. Once again when the saddle starts to slide back,the collar will travel up to be level with the Dees. "Slackening " the hanger will only allow the collar to ride lower and it will still ride upward until it is level with the rigging Dees.

The pulling collar is similar to the breast collar used on a driving harness. It hangs properly at the point of the shoulderand is used to stableize the "saddle". The hanger is adjusted so that the breast collar "hangs" level and the "tugs" run strait back.

Running the tugs (two on each side) one to the rigging Dees and one to the cincha ring will make a triangle that will distribute the pull. Running the tugs strait to the latigos (the truck fender) will allow the collar to hang level. Properly adjusting the neck carrier, will put the collar in the correct position and there will be no strain or contact until the saddle moves backwards. The tugs will also be shorter when they are run strait back.

I have (as stated before) used this style of breast collar most of my life. I have also built this collar for many of my customers per their request. Many of these people are packers, outfitters, working cowboys and high desert buckaroos. Four of them work or have worked as packers at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. From the top to the bottom and back there are some of the steepest grades anyone will encounter. Also, when some of the thirteen hundred pound and up pack mules hang back they will stress test any type of rig. I have never had a complaint.

The roper style of collar would be my second choice for work. Properly adjusted, the roper collar forms a triangle that distributes the pull and stress evenly. If the center strap is too loose, the collar will ride up even with the rings where ever the tugs are attathed. The roper collar cut on a contour that is not too narrow is a great tool. Another type of breast collar that is gaining popularity is similar to the roper collar but the tugs are run under the gullet and up over the swell. This, to me, pulls down on the front of the saddle and would cause the point of the bars to dig into the shoulders. I agree with Hidepounder's statement about improperly fitting or improperly cinched saddles. If you can identify why the saddle is moving, then you can choose a collar that will help with a solution.

Please, I would not want anything to get the impression that I am trying to be the last word on breast collars. These are just my opinions backed up by years of practical application.I have owned and ridden a good many horses that didn't need a breast collar. The saddle could be stableized by using both the front and back cinchas. Over the years I have seen horses carrying all sorts of clutter ( tie downs, back cinchas, martingales, breast collars, ect) because everyone else is has one. If you don't need it, don't use it. Tony the pony works hard enough without adding extra weight.

JOE

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jdalberta1, I'm not a fan of your breast collar for the simple fact that when your horse goes to drink it looks like you'll be inhibiting his wind pipe... No? Sorry, just not a fan dunno.gif

When you guys are talking about attaching to the latigo, do you mean the actual latigo or to the latigo D ring? Sorry, little confused here... ! LOL blink.gif

I agree roping-style breast collars are best in the hills. And after climbing a real steep incline, I ALWAYS reset my saddle. It doesn't seem to matter how tight you've got your cinches, climbing sttpe inclines always moves your saddle back. This not only allows relief for my horse as the breast collar will have tightened up putting pressure on his windpipe, but also gives him a chance to catch his breath. Again JMO.

And I futher agree that knowledge of properly fitting, properly used tack is of the upmost importance, starting at what could be the most important part, the saddle pad.

Really great points made on here - glad everyone is putting their two-cents worth.

Edited by Hooligan

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I've never been a fan of using anything more than I needed to and seldom use a breast collar. There are occasional horses/situations that require the use of one.

I see lots of people using them when they don't need one, and oftentimes it's adjusted wrong. Either without a connecter strap for the front cinch or way too loose, allowing some styles to ride high enough to pull into the esophagus, causing problems with not wanting to pull, etc.

I've built quite a few martingale styled collars that either connect across the top with a strap ran through another strap that is buckled around the fork, or sewn D's on the ends of straps that are then ran around the fork and buckled to the collar. The style that the strap runs through another allows the sides of the collar to move with the horses shoulders, and the strap does last surprisingly long if taken care of. I don't have one to illustrate but heres a picture of how the strap crosses over, and use your imagination for the rest.

The style I prefer to use when I need one is this one of mohair with the center ring dividing it. I know it's not leather, but it's what I've found works the best in my situation. Never have I had a problem with it chafing a horse, in the center, or on the shoulder. On plate/skirt rigs I attach a clip rather than use a dee attached to the front button.

Gary

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jdalberta1, I'm not a fan of your breast collar for the simple fact that when your horse goes to drink it looks like you'll be inhibiting his wind pipe... No? Sorry, just not a fan dunno.gif

When you guys are talking about attaching to the latigo, do you mean the actual latigo or to the latigo D ring? Sorry, little confused here... ! LOL blink.gif

I agree roping-style breast collars are best in the hills. And after climbing a real steep incline, I ALWAYS reset my saddle. It doesn't seem to matter how tight you've got your cinches, climbing sttpe inclines always moves your saddle back. This not only allows relief for my horse as the breast collar will have tightened up putting pressure on his windpipe, but also gives him a chance to catch his breath. Again JMO.

And I futher agree that knowledge of properly fitting, properly used tack is of the upmost importance, starting at what could be the most important part, the saddle pad.

Really great points made on here - glad everyone is putting their two-cents worth.

Hooligan,

I'm sorry that I don't know how to post pictures. I will try to explain.

With the hanger(the strap that goes over the neck) adjusted correctly, the breast collar should be at the point of the shoulder. I use a half breed on the off side of my saddle and the tug wraps around it. After I pull my latigo the near side tug wraps around it. Looking at the breast collar, it should be level with little if any contact with the chest.

Hope this helps.

JOE

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I'm finding this thread interesting and decided to toss my two cents worth in. I prefer to use a roper style breast collar, both for working and for pleasure riding....partly because that is mostly what we used when I was growing up, partly because I think it does a better job. We did use tripping style collars some while working but most everyone I was around used roper style breast collars. I personally don't see the advantage s of a tripping collar in everyday use.

I think a lot of folks worry too much about shoulder restriction with breast collars. To me the degree of restriction they are worried about just doesn't exist...or...they are relying on breast collars to compensate for improperly fitting and improperly cinched saddles which move way too much... and I think this is more often the case. A properly fitting and properly cinched saddle should not move a lot! I whole heartedly agree with using back cinches and dismiss the arguments against them as pure bunk! Additionally I have seen a couple of folks get in trouble with ill-fitting martingale supports when their horse puts his head down and the martingale falls too far forward...that just isn't my favorite setup. For me a properly fitted and adjusted roper/pulling style breast collar fills the bill.

There is another factor which comes in to play and I don't know how to put this without it sounding bad. That is there are an awful lot of pleasure riders and horse enthusiasts who are just not knowledgeable about their horses or their equipment....primarily because they are constantly mislead down at the local tack & feed store by the delivery driver who is filling in on the sales floor for the gal who normally works there and who learned from the old delivery driver! Consequently they develop opinions and points of few based on false premises learned from other uninformed enthusiasts and shop owners. Well intentioned riders are often sold ill fitting, substandard equipment and when their saddle with one cinch slides all over their horses back and makes him sore they are sold a thicker saddle pad and an ill fitting breast collar to fix the problem! You can see where I'm going here. It's a darn tough deal for someone just starting out!

Anyway, I could get real carried away here, but that's my take on the use of breast collars.....

Bobby

Bob, I agree with you completely. While I always make matching breast collars and rear cinches with my saddles, it is because most customers want it that way. Generally, I only use one on my saddle when I am out in public cause I like to show off my work, it is my way of advertising, but; when I am just out for a ride, or excersizing my own horse at home, I leave the extra stuff hanging on the wall. I have found that if a saddle fits right, it will stay put, even without a lot of chinch tightening. It takes extreme use like cutting, roping, or real trail riding in steep up and down trails, before the need is really there, and at that, I am not even sure. Besides, I would rather see the horse. To me , like Tom T. Hall, there is nothing more pleasing than a well put up horse, younger women, older whiskey, or more money---in that order!

Bondo Bob

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Well thanks for all the info so far. Not surprisingly there are a diverse set of opinions coming in and I like that. As with most internet information the answer sought is often found by shifting through the wheat and chafe so to speak and taking the middle road. Again my answer is focused on riding in primarily mountainous terrain so flatish country breast collar usage doesn't factor in so much...I think?

I personally try to avoid overuse of tack and gimicks preferring a clean uncluttered rig. Having said that let me flesh out my particular situation so that folks with similar experiences can hopefully continue to share in this exchange. In packing situations I`ve always run by necessity breastcollars and britchin'. For riding once in a while a crupper will go on a saddlehorse but not unless the snug rear cinch doesn't do the job. So that boils down mainly to saddle fit and conformation issues in my experience thus far anyway.

A few key points:

The horse I currently am riding is a 16.2 Morgan/Belgian cross with slightly uphill conformation. He's a fat fella this winter, low withered and barrelly. My saddle leaves even sweat marks with no signs of bridging or point loading. Without a breastcollar It does move back on uphills. The saddlebags are large which adds up to a rig that weighs around 45lbs. The padding set up for this guy is a 1" felt pad under a thin single layer wool blanket.

I`ll try out a roping collar to see how that compares. I`m curious to see how that style of breast collar with the high attachment points will work on hills. Could anyone explain the difference between the old school martingale breast collar which buckles over the the neck and attaches to the saddle up high via a small tug on either side and your typical roping collar which does not go over the neck but also attaches high on or nere the pommel? I like the look of the way those old martingales sit. Go figure?

My understanding thus far is that high attachment points are in general designed for horn stability where as low attachment is better suited to pulling or hill work.

Chances are I`ll be riding more typically conformed quarter horse types this spring and summer so i`m hoping that once I can settle on the breast collar esign that works for hill riding , I`ll be able to use it on both draft crosses and smaller quarter horse types...seems reasonable.

Here's a pic of the horse and tripping breast colllar I`m using right now. I just added a doubled over vertical strip of latigo with 1" D's for a cinch connector and tie down if ever need. So far I haven't used the breast collar/front cinch connector but I`ll try this the next ride so as to judge it's effectiveness in keeping the collar position level and keeping the esophagus unrestricted on uphills. Hopefully a riding partner will be able to take a few shots so all this is a little less subjective.

Please keep the viewpoints coming folks. I really appreciate you sharing your hard won insights. The longer I can consider myself a green rider looking for answers the longer I`ll remain open to learning. Is there such a thing as an overly unoppionated horseperson? :whistle:

ben front.JPG

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Edited by jdalberta1

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I personally like the hard elastic polo type breast plates that I covered with thick sheep's wool. I've attached both off the rigging and the cinch using a heavy duty made English type girth loop. Worked great every time I used it,and when riding up steep hills,the breast plate wasn't able at all to dig into his windpipe.

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Not having read all the posts, I apologize if I am just repeating what someone has already offered. From what I have read I would say that it sounds like there are a wide range of opinions and experiences and so why not add one more. All, of course, is IMHO. When I was younger and packed quite a bit I made my packsaddle breast collars like the ones I used with my working saddle not the other way around. How was that you might ask. Sorry no pictures but I promise not to take a thousand words to make up for it. Well, before I go on, let me share a few observations from long years of using, making and repairing things. I only remember 1 or 2 BCs where the body broke, it was always the straps so I have turned to lighter collars with stronger straps though I do make some collar bodies bigger than they need to be just to have room for tooling to match a saddle or space to put letters; next generality, I've seen a few things sore horses and have eliminated them from my bag of tricks. Packer breast collars made straight with 4 inch webbing bodies dont stay flat very long. They get countoured in front by the horse's neck. Lesson: wide and flat doesn't cut it even if there are a dozen extras hanging in the barn. The breast straps used by polo players, 3 day eventers, etc are pretty lightly constructed, attach very high up on the saddle, have a ring in the middle and the strap from that ring that goes between the front legs to the girth is kept snug. So what's my conclusion. The preceeding observation that a well fitting rig with the right kind of pad stays pretty well put was very pertinent. If a breast collar can just help that all out a little in a balanced fashion it doesn't need to be very heavy. Hint: Stand your favorite pony up with a saddle on and take a magic marker and draw lines from the front conchos down in a V that converges just enough below his windpipe to let him put his head down then draw a straight line from the V point back between his front legs to the dee on your cinch. Now walk him around including up and down some steep little pitches and keep your eyes on those lines. You will notice that his legs move freely as does his neck. Voila, you have designed a well fitting, functional collar. A dee ring (without the so called chafe) goes in the middle and the collar body ends up on the large, relatively flat, pretty much non-moving part of his anatomy. You will probably have to have attachment dees put on your saddle up that high unless you have one of the newer rigs that already feature them there. NOTE: they dont need to be super stout either if they're canted down to match the angle that that line you drew meets your saddle at. AND besure to keep the cinch connector snug, not hanging down so the rig will maintain a balanced 3 point alignment. That's what I think about this.

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