Horseback Riding

Function Before Fashion

October 31, 2011

Breast collars do an important job.

Form Before Function

Breast collars have the function that makes this “work horse” a vital piece of tack. Journal photo.

By Dennis Moreland in America’s Horse

A breast collar can dress up a rig, and many of them have a lot of silver or tooling on them. But really, that’s not what’s important. It’s the function that makes this “work horse” a vital piece of tack.

A breast collar keeps your saddle from sliding back, and it stabilizes your saddle on the horse. Usually, you don’t have to ride with your cinch quite as tight if you’re using a breast collar. There are several different kinds, geared toward different types of cowboys. To see examples, scroll to the slideshow below.

1. This is a heavy three-piece breast collar that’s typically used by ropers. It has 1-inch-wide tugs (the straps that fasten to the sides of the saddle), and it’s a stout piece of tack.

2. This is a narrower three-piece leather breast collar, and it fits a lot of horses. When you’re putting on three-piece breast collars for the first time, fasten the right-hand tug to the dee ring on your saddle.

Hold the breast collar up to the horse’s chest and make sure the center of the breast collar hits the center of the chest. Then you’ll fasten the left-hand tug to the dee ring. If you have to wrap your tugs around the dee ring a time or two, your breast collar is too large for your horse. Finally, snap the center piece to the dee ring on the center of your cinch. It’s important to have your cinch centered on the horse, so that the dee ring is exactly between his legs.

If it’s off to one side or the other, the breast collar’s center strap could rub on the inside of a leg and cause a sore. Make sure the center strap isn’t so tight that you can’t get your hand underneath it.

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3a. and 3b. This “tripper” breast collar is used by steer ropers (also called steer trippers). It has two sets of tugs, one that goes through the dee ring on the saddle, and the other that goes through the ring of your cinch.

Those keep the breast collar straight when it’s being pulled on.

4. Ranch cowboys call this a “pulling” breast collar. It fits a horse along his shoulder, just like the collar of a work harness.

The tugs attach to the swells of a saddle, rather than the dee rings. The center piece attaches to the center ring on the cinch.

Dennis is an AQHA member and tack expert who has been making quality work tack since 1976. At Dennis Moreland Tack, Dennis makes high-quality handmade tack, utilizing the best designs possible. Dennis writes for America’s Horse magazine and stars in AQHA’s “Tack Talk” DVD.

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