I'm seriously considering getting my gelding a euro collar with the harness I'm saving up to get him next year. Most of our driving will be recreational, but I'd love to do some entry level CDE one day. Our cart is a 2 wheel wood road cart (colour TBD). I've heard that a euro collar with a 2 wheeler is a no-no?
Reasoning for wanting to go the euro collar route is that while I love the look of a collar and hames, his neck shape is changing too dramatically for it to be doable for me to have a collar that fits him at all times. Between his "gelded too late" crest slowly shrinking, to his muscle changing, and now the vet has found a considerable amount of scar tissue built up along the underside of his neck (she believes he either had his head stuck in something and struggled, or was tied to something immovable with something unbreakable and he pulled back and tore the muscles), his neck seems to change shape daily. I'm also finding it difficult to get his current breastcollars (I have two complete harnesses that I've had to piece together to make fit him, since he's right in the middle of cob and horse sizes) to fit him right without rubbing, even with the breastcollar well padded.
So the best-of-both-worlds fit of the euro collar seems like it would be a good fit for him and his conformation, and the adjustability will be handy as he changes shape.
My only concern with going the euro collar route is its appropriateness for dressage/cones in CDE. From what I've read, it's more of a marathon piece of tack, but at the same time I haven't seen anything saying they're not okay for dressage/cones.
I've been told that I could use one with my road cart, I'd just need to drop the swingletree to create a lower line of draft. Is there anything else I'd need to take into account when using a euro collar with a 2-wheeler?
I haven't seen the Euro Collars or the various adaptations of a collar/breastcollar designs to work THAT well. They are not all that common in competitons, and seem to work for a little, then Driver changes back to a more common harness design, full neck collar or breastcollar.
You might consider just purchasing the Euro Collar alone, maybe used, to try out. I wouldn't want to have my whole harness made up and dependent on the Euro Collar to work. ESPECIALLY if my horse budget for harness is limited, and this idea does NOT work out for my horse. Not working for you could take ALL the fun out of new equipment. You never can sell new stuff for what you paid.
Some issues mentioned in discussion about Euro Collars are fit. A big point is draught (prounounced draft) point, where the traces come off the hames portion. Often too low on the shoulder, so pull may rock the collar on neck and put pressure on moving shoulder. Doesn't let the equine use his strength well, making it an inefficient design in real life.
You might put a "want ad" on the CD-L to look for a used Euro Collar, with size wanted. Better to buy used, than pay full price if possible! I know my friend bought one, only used it a short time and didn't like it for her CDE horses. Back to breastcollars for her. There is bound to be other Drivers like her, out there willing to sell equipment that didn't work for them. With buckle-in traces, a Euro Collar should be able to just be traded for the breastcollar on your harness to try out.
There is also the deeply cut, shaped breastcollar design, Empathy in the Zilco line, that gives a different fit on a horse. They are popular with certain Single competitors, so you do see them on a number of horses in competitons now. Does seem the Driver loves or hates them, and that is related to the conformation of their animal. We are considering shaped breastcollars for replacements to use on the Pair. Just not many in use on Pairs, where we can talk to the Drivers. Pair breastcollars are cut much longer than Single horse models, anchored at the harness saddle and don't work the same in action. I would buy used, but no one has any to sell at the moment that would fit our horses. Big investment for us if they don't work on our horses, so I am not jumping in yet. Oh well, shopping is always fun!
Interesting that you mention Zilco's Empathy breastcollars, I was actually just looking at them. The two breastcollars my gelding has currently are plain, straight, leather breast collars, one is supposedly "average horse" and is REALLY long but the buckles for the neck strap are in an odd place so no matter how I adjust it the front of the breastcollar is always pointing upwards and pressing right against the bottom of his throat. The other is cob sized and is very thin and narrow, but fits a bit better lengthwise, potentially because of the sewn-in rather than buckle-in traces. but the leather is so thin that even if I add a nice thick pad, it twists and warps and digs into him too. Luckily we haven't quite gotten to where he's ready to put to the cart yet, so it hasn't been too big of an issue with him hooked to the travois, but there's no way it'd work to hitch him with. And then on top of all that, the traces on the larger breast collar are roller bolt (though someone told me they're marathon traces, google tells me they're roller bolts) ends, and my swingletree is for slot ends, so again, good thing he's not quite ready to hitch because our tack is clearly failing.
Would the cut of the Empathy breastcollar work to offer relief to the scar tissue on his throat, without interfering with his naturally extended trot? I'll see if I can find a video that demonstrates the trot under saddle (and is good enough quality that you can actually see it, haha). For such a little guy he's got a BIG trot, carries his head/neck very upright (partly due to his neck set being quite high, and partly due to the scarring in his neck making it a bit difficult for him to stretch down and out comfortably).
I used a Eurocollar with my Gelderlander. I liked it and it worked well. I usually used a breast collar when driving my light meadowbrook and the Eurocollar when he was hitched to the surrey. I liked it and no wear marks on my horse's shoulder.
Camptown Harness has a breast collar that works very much like the Eurocollar...I've been using it on my new mare. It's an interesting desgin.
I'll jump in here with my Euro Collar experiences.
When I first started teaching my QH to drive 2 years ago, I started him in a "cheap eBay harness". Great for long lining, actually. Kind of wish I kept it for that purpose for the future.
Anyway, that harness had a 2" wide B/C that Chewbacca absolutely would not pull with.
When I was ready to put him to the cart, I got him a custom bio harness with a V neck b/c that was 4" wide. He pulled just fine in it.
Then, last year, I saw someone at a show sporting this odd looking collar. (she was using it with a 2 wheel, by the way). I asked her what it was, and she said it was a Euro Collar.
I looked into it a little and my interest was piqued, but with winter coming, I kind of forgot all about it. Then "my" harness maker, where I get all my stuff from, began carrying them.
I jumped on getting one and had the order in before the horse size Euro Collar was even available. lol.
It arrived in April, and right from the first drive, I immediately noticed a massive difference in how Chewie pulled. I LOVE my Euro Collar, and I believe so does my horse. He immediately moved more forward more easily, made better upward transitions, moved into the canter more easily, and I've noticed that this whole year, his speeds/times are getting better (for him!).
I'm not saying he suddenly became quick, because, well... he lacks a certain thing we all like to call speed around here. However, he moves more easily, and I can see his comfort is clearly more pronounced.
Yes, you can see that is made for a 4 wheel vehicle. Does it work with my meadowbrook? Heck yeah! And I plan to buy one for my pony at some point, and would absolutely get a Euro Collar for any future horses.
(Maybe some day I 'll actually get a 4 wheel to go with it... hmmm.... won't that be nice).
I got my Euro Collar (well, and harnesses, and everything else) from Big Black Horse.
Here's a picture of us out and about earlier this year. ... I really need to get some more recent pics!
You can see in this picture why it's obvious the Euro Collar is designed for a 4 wheel vehicle. However, it does have swivel D's for the traces, so the traces are able to be level for the straight line of draft in my MB.
Chewie: Where on earth did you find lime green tack??!?!?! I NEED a lime green set and a teal set (java's main solid colours, other than those he wears a lot of rainbow, haha)!!!
Looking at your pictures I have a feeling that by dropping my singletree to the underside of where it's currently at, it'll give the lower line of draught it'd need. My trainer has already offered to drop it for me if that's the route I decide to go. She uses a euro collar for marathon and breastcollar for cones/dressage, but her ponies are long and lanky with a slightly more even/bordering downhill build and my guy is VERY uphill. The scar tissue is still a concern (and it makes me so mad to think of what someone had to do to create it!) so she said definite ixnay on the straight breastcollars I have for anything long term (the one with sewn in traces is thinner leather and is about 2.5" wide, the better one is closer to 4" and thicker leather with rolled edges too)
Thanks for the info on the CD-L, I'm signed up!
I'll look into the Camptown breastcollar too, I've never heard of Camptown either so definitely curious to see what they offer vs other companies I've looked at.