Making harness for horses and other animals is a complex art, but it is a skill of interest to those who seek greater self-sufficiency or those who just want to learn to work with leather. Here are two public domain resources to help you get started.
The first book is Harness Making by Paul Hasluck. It is a heavily illustrated book that starts out by introducing topics and techniques of key importance:
- Hides and how they are cut.
- Applying wax, paste, and similar materials.
Then comes instructions for making collars and harnesses of several different types.
The second book is The Harness Makers’ Guide by the Office of “Saddlery and Harness.” This one starts out with some hints on choosing and cutting leather, but it mostly consists of specifications for harnesses of many different styles, from gig harness to plowing harness. Special harnesses for ponies, donkeys, and goats are also covered, as are riding bridles and dog collars.
Obviously some of this information is outdated (most notably the price estimates), but these books may pique your interest and give you some insight into the old-fashioned art of making harness.
Includes more information on collars and harnesses for draft horses, as well as tips on choosing a bit for a mule, putting a harness on a goat, and much more. Free sample pages are available.