Mom has taught some of us goats at the farm how to pull a wagon. I haven’t learned because I’m a studly buck, and when I get excited, I sometimes pee on things, like the person holding onto my lead. Mom says that isn’t good manners.
Maybe you’d like to teach your goat (or sheep or big, strong dog) to pull a wagon or sled. To do it, you’ll need a harness, so I’m going to show you how to make one.
This isn’t the kind of harness you’d use to drive a goat. Those are specialized harnesses with bridles and long reins, and they attach to shafts (two long poles that connect the animal to whatever it’s pulling) fitted with a single tree (a bar attached to the back of the harness that swivels as the animal moves). Check out this picture to get a visual:
Instead, we’re going to make a harness like this one:
Here’s a close-up:
It’s a simple pulling harness designed to snap onto a basic set of shafts. There’s no bridle because someone walks alongside the goat and leads him with a rope or leash attached to his collar or halter.
Mom sews this kind of harness using sturdy thread, such as artificial sinew or waxed dental floss, and a sharp, curved, surgical needle.
It’s made of soft 1-inch webbing from a 30-foot longe line designed for horses. Mom uses cotton longe lines, so she finishes the cut ends with a blanket stitch using strong button thread. If you use a nylon longe line, all you have to do is sear the ends with a flame and smooth the rough edges with an emery board. The padding is homemade woolen felt Mom makes by repeatedly laundering pieces of a secondhand wool blanket in hot, soapy water. To cut down on cost and weight, she uses cinch knots instead of buckles for adjustments. Here are Mom’s instructions for making a pulling harness to fit a Nubian wether, like my nephew Edmund. (He’s the handsome guy in these pictures.)
- 30 feet cotton or nylon webbing longe line
- 8 1½-inch welded rings
- 3 5/8-inch quick snaps
- padding material
- imitation sinew or waxed dental floss
- #3 curved surgical needle
- button thread, colored to match webbing (if using cotton longe line)
Step 1: Assemble chest strap.
For the chest strap, piece together A, B and C listed below. Sew padding to the entire assembly using the sinew, and extend 4 inches beyond connector strap No. 2’s open rings.
A – Chest Strap: Cut one 24-inch piece of longe line. Turn under each end 2 inches, and sew to a welded ring.
B – No. 1 Connector Straps: Cut two 6-inch pieces of longe line. On each piece, turn under one end 2 inches, and sew to a chest strap ring. (Add one connector to each side of the chest strap.) Turn under the opposite end of each connector strap 2 inches, and sew to a welded ring (this piece will eventually connect to the shaft).
C – No. 2 Connector Straps: Cut two 6-inch pieces of longe line. On each piece, turn under one end 2 inches, and sew to a shaft connector ring (add one to each side). Turn under the opposite end of each piece 2 inches, and sew to a new ring.
D – Side Straps: Cut two 22-inch pieces of longe line. On each piece, turn under one end 2 inches, and sew to a new ring. Attach opposite end to a quick snap using a cinch knot. (See directions for how to tie a cinch knot below.)
Step 2: Assemble harness.
E – Butt Strap: Cut one 38-inch piece of longe line. Attach padding to the center 16 to 18 inches. Attach to the side straps with cinch knots.
F – Hip Drop: Cut one 26-inch piece of longe line. Turn under each end 2 inches, and sew to the side strap rings.
G – Back Connector: Cut one 20-inch piece of longe line. Turn under each end 2 inches, and sew to the centers of the hip drop and rear shoulder strap.
H – Rear Shoulder Strap: Cut one 34-inch piece of longe line. Attach padding to the center 8 to 12 inches. Sew the back connector to center over the padding. Attach to the chest strap assembly using cinch knots. (Four different pieces will attach to that ring: the connector strap No. 2, the side strap, the girth strap and the rear shoulder strap.)
I – Front Shoulder Strap: Cut one 36-inch piece of longe line. Pad the center 8 to 10 inches. Using cinch knots, attach to the chest strap assembly at the top of the ring between the chest strap and connector strap No. 1.
J – Girth Strap: Cut one 36-inch piece of longe line. Turn under one end 2 inches, and sew it to snap. Connect opposite end to the off side of chest assembly and rear shoulder strap using a cinch knot.
This harness should fit snuggly, with the chest strap assembly lying exactly as shown on my nephew Edmund—no higher or lower in front.
Cinch Knot How-to
To tie a cinch knot, follow these steps:
- Pass the end of the strap down through the ring.
- Pass the end across the front.
- Continue down and back up through the ring.
- Bring the end down and through the loop across the front.
- Pull firmly to secure the knot.
Learn how to select and train a pulling goat, make the simple wooden shafts shown in the picture above and convert your utility wagon for pulling in Mom’s article, "Goat Power,” in the September/October 2013 issue of Hobby Farm Home (on newsstands July 3).
Do you have a livestock or wildlife question you want me to answer? Send me your question!
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