The Draft-Horse Gear and Tools You Need

Linking a horse to farming implements is a bit more involved than saddling up for a ride. A hames, which has small metal or wooden bars on either side, supports the horse’s collar and transfers the pulling power of the horse to the equipment in tow via heavy leather traces and, for some equipment, a yoke. A britchen strap around the rump acts as a brake, preventing wheeled implements from rolling forward when a team walks downhill.

Once a team has been outfitted with the gear detailed above, it can pull a wide range of farming equipment—including many intended for use with a tractor. The most common approach is to invest in a wheeled forecart, which includes a seat for the teamster driving the horses and a “drawbar” to which equipment is attached. Forecarts, as well as many implements designed for draft animals, are available through Amish manufacturers and distributors such as Atlantic Draft Horse SupplyI & J Manufacturing, and Pioneer Equipment Inc. Here’s a run-down of the kinds of tasks draft horses can tackle, along with the gear required for each:

Soil Prep

Moldboard Plow: Simple walk-behind plow used with draft horses since the 18th century
Sulky Plow: Riding version of the moldboard plow
Manure Spreader: Heavy-duty wagon with rotating blades that spew manure onto the field
Harrow: Used after plowing to break large clumps of dirt into a fine seed bed

Planting and Cultivation

Seed Drills, Transplanters: Automate the process of putting plants in the ground
Cultivator: Multi-purpose tool that forms furrows and weeds the space between crops
Digger: Harvests potatoes, garlic, and other root crops

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Around the Farm

Wagons, Carts, Sleds: Allow the horses to haul everything from produce to firewood
Mowers, Power Rakes, Hay Balers, Tedders: All tools that are involved in harvesting and baling hay

The Draft-Horse Gear and Tools You Need