Wednesday, March 4, 2015

British in-hand heavy horse harness classes

As I was preparing the photos for yesterday's post about the Cornish heavy horse show harness, I couldn't help but notice that there wasn't a cart.
This was notable, because every harness class I've ever seen involves some horse drawn vehicle. 
And, honestly, a harness class without a vehicle is almost the best thing ever for a performance shower on a budget. 
So I asked the photographer, Jackie Radwanski, for more information about this class.
Here's what she told me:  For In-hand Heavy Horse Harness Classes the horses are led around the arena at walk only.
The judges then inspect each harness very closely, looking at it's condition, and fit as well as the overall 'look' on the horse. 
They also pay very close attention to the way it is cleaned and maintained.
Every part is checked, front... 
and back...
and if any part is not up to 'standard' then it is marked down.
Different regions have different ways the harness is 'made' like the type of brasses or the way they are displayed. Even the way the reins are attached can vary. A Scottish Harness would be different to a Welsh Harness which in tern is different again to a Harness from the South of England.
A lot have evolved due to local legends and superstitions. They are truly works of art with many being past down through the years within the same family, some are well over 100 years old. They can take up to 3 days to strip down and clean! 
The sound of the brasses and bells 'tinkerling' as the horses walk around the rings is one of my most favourite sounds! 
Once again, I'd like to thank Jackie for allowing me share her photos and knowledge. This event is tailor made for the model horse performance ring.  I am so happy to have "discovered" it! 


  1. Oh perfect!! These are so pretty. One would look great on Kitty's new Suffolk Punch I think...

  2. I agree. Woodbridge would be a *perfect* choice for this class!

  3. Very interesting - seems like a tack makers dream class

  4. I recognize that show! Nice to see it appearing here. In the UK, in this part of the country at least, among heavy horses, a "Harness Class" is horse and harness only. Classes with vehicles are referred to as "Turnout" classes and are divided into Agricultural (e.g. wagons) and Trade (e.g. brewery drays).