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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.

The 1878 Paris Exposition and Brewster

At the 1878 Paris Exposition Brewster displayed thirteen vehicles.

No. 1. Park Drag. Green and vermilion and black.
No. 2. Landau. Green and vermilion stripes.
No. 3. Brougham, pair horse. Green and black.
No. 4. Lady’s Brougham, single horse. Black and red.
No. 5. Victoria. Double Suspension. Maroon and red.
No. 6. Cabriolet. Green and cream white.
No. 7. Lady’s Driving Phaeton. Claret and bluff.
No. 8. Two-wheeler. Lake and carmine.
No. 9. T-Cart. Maroon and orange stripes.
No. 10. American Trotting Phaeton. Yellow and black.
No. 11. Road Wagon. Green and black.
No. 12. Whitechapel Wagon. Blue and carmine.
No. 13. Racing Sulky. Simply varnished.

Henry Brewster was awarded the Decoration of Legion of Honor by the French government as a special token of approval. Brewster & Company was award a gold medal and five of their foremen were awarded diplomas. Special note was taken of the quality of the painting and combination of colors.

If They Could Only Talk by Randy Solle

It was a beautiful warm, sunny, spring morning in New York City. As I looked out through the large front window of the Repository, on the corner of Broadway and 47th street, the women were strolling by in their lovely spring outfits, with their beautiful hats, and the streets were filled with Hansoms, Broughams, and Commercial vehicles of all sorts. Inside, there were Breaks, Phaetons, and Gigs, all brightly shining, and the smell of fresh varnish was in the air.

A tall, slender young man by the name of Charles, walked into the shop, and as one of the sales agents showed him around the various vehicles, they were soon admiring me. Trap the agent said, “Kensington Trap”. My, that is my name, so dignified sounding, I like it.

Before long, I was hitched behind a tall dashing chestnut, by the name of Nelly. She was a fine high-stepping mare, and we were briskly moving down Broadway, to the admiration of many an onlooker, on our way to Charles’ home. What a fine looking turnout we were.

As we turned onto a side street, we went into the second drive on the right. It was a large white Victorian house, trimmed in green, with a flower garden behind, and a gravel drive that led back to the barn out back. Once we were unhitched and cleaned up, I sat at my spot, in the center isle, which allowed me to look out through the doorway, with two large round top doors. Nelly was in her stall on the right, and on the wall on the left, was her harness, all polished with the brass hardware shining. With my shafts propped up on a stand in front of me, I could look out into the flower garden, with its rose covered arch. Yes, this is MY spot in my new home, and I like it.

Time went by, and Charles, Nelly and I had many enjoyable outings. One Sunday after church, Charles had a friend ride along, her name was Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a very pretty young woman, with long brunette hair and deep dark eyes. Together we would drive out into the countryside, where I would set in the shade of a large Oak tree, and Nelly was free to graze among the wild flowers. Charles and Elizabeth would enjoy their picnic, with a checkered spread, over near the rumbling stream.

Yes, these were good times. One day I could see from the barn, that there was a large gathering of people in the flower garden, and Elizabeth was wearing a large white gown, while Charles stood beside her, under the rose archway. It was a very happy occasion, and it lasted well into the night. Yes, these were good times indeed.

Over the years, we all had many happy trips together, around the city and out into the countryside. But the roads began to get more troublesome to navigate. There was something new on the roads, some kind of smoke belching, erratic driving things. They had no horse hitched to them, but how did they move? Why, who would want to own such a contraption, they had no class. Why, I heard it said you could get one in any color, as long as it was black. Why, even horse drawn carriages could be had in just about any pleasing color combination. Just a passing fad, I am sure.

One day about a year later, while setting in my place in the barn, Nelly was busy nuzzling through her daily hay ration, when Charles and a man came into the barn. They soon took Nelly out of her stall, and after the stranger looked her over, they shook hands, and Nelly was led away. Where were they taking her I wondered? Normally the farrier and the veterinarian come to the barn to do there work. They never took her away. Maybe she’s just going to get some kind of a special treatment, and she’ll be back soon, just as happy as always. I waited and waited, but she didn’t come back. It was very quiet and still that night in the barn, there was no one around. I was all by myself for the first time in my life. Something was wrong, I could tell.

The next morning, I could hear Charles outside with something making a horrible racket. I couldn’t see from where I was in the barn, but soon Elizabeth joined him, and I could hear them laughing and almost acting childish. Soon, Charles came in, and he rolled me back into a dark corner, in the back of the barn. My shafts stuffed overhead in the rafters. Afterwards, this coughing, oil belching thing was pulled into the barn, and sat in the center of the isle. Why, he can’t do that, that was MY spot. What would he want with such a contraption? Why it didn’t even have a dignified name, they called it a “Tin Lizzy”. Can you imagine? I can’t talk to it like Nelly. Why, I can’t even see out of the doors any more. What have I done to deserve this?

The years rolled by, and I would always know what season it was, by either Miss Kitty using my cushions to have her latest litter of kittens, or the mice would settle in for a long cold winter. Why, even the moth’s needed someplace to eat and call home. At times the neighborhood children would come in and jump up and down on me. Oh, these poor old joints just couldn’t take much more of that anymore.

I used to see Charles and Elizabeth once in awhile. They also were getting older and slower. Occasionally, they would come back into the barn, and just look at me and each other, as a small smile would come to their faces, and then they would slowly turn and shuffle away. I’m afraid the years have taken their toll on all of us. I didn’t see them again after that day.

Here I am again, alone by myself. I really don’t like this feeling, but perhaps something will happen. Everyone that I had known is gone. I don’t have anyone else, where will I go now? Within a few days, there were these strange people in the barn. They were looking into everything as though they owned it, but I had never seen them before. Shouldn’t I have been told they were coming, or introduced, since I have been here the longest? They did come over, and after poking thru me, they rolled me outside onto the lawn. My, it was bright, I had not seen the sun in more years than I could imagine. They also brought a number of other items out in to the yard and set them around. Why, what is this, what are they doing? Later on, a young woman came over and put a tag on me. Why, this is not my name, my name is not “Lot”. Surely you have me mixed up with someone else. Who can I talk to and get this straightened out? Why, they acted as though they couldn’t even hear me. These young people show no respect. Why, they have even forgotten to put me back inside. I’ve never been outside at night before. I don’t like this.

The next day, it was very busy as soon as it was light out. There were large crowds of people coming, and soon there was a man with a very loud voice, who was yelling a bunch of numbers together. It all seemed like gibberish to me, but everyone else seemed to understand it. As the day went on, why people would come over and just poke and prod anything they wanted, without any respect. They would shake my poor old tired body and wheels, as though they expected money to fall out. Can you imagine, why some of them even come up and took some of my parts, without even a word. Don’t they realize who I am, do they have no respect? Why after all, I am a Trap. Why if I was younger, I’d,,,, oh, these poor old bones just don’t have the fight left in them.

I watched as the large group moved around the property, and they eventually moved on to me. Lot #593 the loud man shouted out, a “Horse Buggy”. A bit rough, but might make good yard art, he said. At once he started to yell the numbers, and within a minute, he yelled “Sold”, and everyone moved on, as though nothing had happened. Left behind, were a young man and women, with their arms wrapped together, looking at me. They come closer, and gently rubbed their hands on my poor old tired wheels and body, and said “we’ll take care of you, don’t you worry”. But who were they, and why were they saying this?

I was soon loaded onto a trailer, and going down the road faster than even a bird could fly. How is this possible, I have never seen such a thing. I don’t see anything that looks familiar. Why, there weren’t even any vehicles being pulled by a horse, going down the road. My, how things have changed since I was put into the back of the barn. Where was I going? Yard art? It must be a good thing I thought, I hoped.

The young couple put me into their barn, and then they started to look me over. This was bad, and that was bad, did we make a mistake they said. I don’t know what they were thinking, but it didn’t sound real good to me.

The next day, they came out and started to take me apart. Why, what were they doing? I’ve been together all of these years, and no one has done this. They continued until there was nothing left of me in one piece, why I’m naked, don’t they have any respect? Oh, if I could only return to my earlier times, when life was grand. Instead I set here scattered all over a cement floor, with no one around. They have completely stripped me of my dignity.

Over the next few months, my parts were gradually reworked and put back together. Why, they are even putting my original colors back onto me. Afterwards, they were putting the stripping back on my body. It looked pretty nice, why, it even tickled.

All though I was a centurion, once again I was feeling young, as I was back in my original condition. But why? What will happen to me now? There aren’t any horses to hitch to. Why did they do this?

They said it was late, and quickly rolled me into this metal can on wheels. With a load bang, it was dark. I couldn’t see anything, all that was happening, was that I was bouncing around inside of this dark can. Now what, where was I going? Was I being taken back to another barn to set? Maybe there would be horses there?

We bounced down the road for what seemed like forever, when we finally come to a stop. I could hear voices outside, but I couldn’t tell what was happening. Will I stay in here? Will I go somewhere else? Is this another one of those things with the loud man shouting numbers?

Suddenly, the back door opened, and they rolled me out. What was this place? What was going to happen? I started to look around, and suddenly I realized, that I was amongst other carriages. Why, there were Breaks, Phaetons, Gigs, and Sleighs, all shiny and new looking just like me. Why, it was just like being back in the Repository in New York city.

The young couple slowly rolled me into my place, wiped me down, adjusted my lamps, and gave me a final good luck pat. But why was I here?

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny, spring day, as I stood there amongst the other carriages, showing off my new shiny blue first place ribbon. And I like it.