saddler and harness maker were part of the leatherworking
trade, a large group that included the cordwainer (boot and
shoemaker), hat maker, bookbinder and glove maker. The fitting
of a harness or collar required much skill, as each set was
usually manufactured for a specific purpose and animal. The
advent of the automobile hastened the decline of harness-making
specialists. There has been resurgence in the working horse,
as witnessed by the popularity of the exhibition draft teams
and popular plowing competitions.
collar, or main body, shown here was an improvement from the
early strap-type connection of a pulling animal to a load.
The fitted collar distributed the force in a manner that did
not restrict breathing. It was fashioned as a leather tube
and stuffed with straw that had been crushed and then forced
into the shaped tube, much like a sausage casing is filled.
To maintain the evenness of the fill, a special mallet was
used to flatten out the sections. Used in conjunction with
a stuffing iron, this mallet allowed for controlled shaping
of the straw. Other harness and saddle parts were often filled
with hair and wool, which was softer for both rider and animal.