Local friend purchased a nice fjord mare several years ago from a draft horse auction. She was shown both pulling a cart and as a riding horse, friend purchased her as a riding horse but is now considering taking up driving with her. When the vet at auction looked her over they found an indentation of about 2-3 fingers width across the top of her neck just in front of the withers, makes her mane wonky in that spot. Anyway vet felt it was probably from an ill fitting collar and was more cosmetic than anything as it didn't seem sensitive to palpating.
Can a collar actually do this to a horse and wouldn't it have to be left on for some time for it to make such a permanent indentation?
Also the mare fiddles with her lead rope the entire time she's tied but if she lets her stand loose to tack up she stands completely still, friend wonders if due to her early cart training?
In any case she is a peach of a mare (she is coming 13 now and she purchased her when she was 9) and she's going to send her out to a local driving trainer to see where she's at in terms of getting started with her, will be interesting to follow their journey.
I picked up an amish trained hackney pony that did a lot of driving hours and he too had an indent in his neck. I dont know if it's exactly from an ill fitting collar, of if some horses have more fat in that area and if driven often, it indents as where others wont. Collars are a little heavier than your breast collar harnesses, so they would put more weight on the neck, and one that might be a little more fleshy in that area, it might just move the fat elsewhere, especially if these ponies were really used for multiple hours a day, 7 days a week.
I dont know what cart training her would do to make her fiddle with her rope or not fiddle. That sounds more like a personality to me. She was likely taught to stand and not move to hitch and so forth, and maybe not tied as often. I've only been driving a couple years now, but i've found i tie my ponies less and less, it's just easier if they'll stand there while i get their harnesses on, since i have to slide stuff over their heads. They also MUST stand quietly while i hitch since i hitch alone, and since i know i may or may not have places to tie them to hitch (which you'll get yes and no answers to on safety anyway) i just make them learn to stand there. It can be very boring training wise, but something that's important.
We had a Morgan mare who, when we sent her out to be trained to drive, came back with a DEEP harness rub on the top of her neck where the collar had chafed. I don't know quite how it happened--ill-fitting collar, wearing the collar too long, or what--but when she came home it was an actual open sore that we could fit a couple fingers in. (Yes, we were livid.) For the rest of her life after that, she had an indentation in the crest of her neck right there and the mane grew in very sparse. So yes, it's totally possible for a collar to make a dent. Our mare was never sensitive there after it healed and went on to wear collars just fine in future.
Lovely that your friend's horse stands well; that is a hard skill to teach some horses but an extremely valuable one. I think drivers emphasize this much more than riders, for safety and convenience when hitching.
The hooves of the horses! Oh witching and sweet is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet. Will Ogilvie