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.
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).