Step 1: Clean the horse. After grabbing Chester's curry and brush from its spot along the barn wall, I approached Chester's stall. I called out Chester's name and touched his rear, to let him know I was coming in, lest he be startled. I told him to step over, and gave him a firm shove toward the left side of the stall. Once inside the stall, I went over Chester's coat with the curry, loosening dirt, and using the comb on more sensitive areas such as his face.
Step 2: Collar. I know from past conversations that a good fitting collar -- tight enough but not too tight -- is crucial to a draft horse's comfort while working. The collar goes around the horse's neck and is then clasped tight.
Step 3: Harness. The harness rests on a peg on the wall with the rear of the harness facing outward. Ian showed me how to feed my right arm through each section and then grab the hames, so I was ready to put the harness on the horse in the right order.
Step 4: Hames. I walked to the front of Chester's stall with the harness resting on my shoulder. The entire harness needs to be hoisted to rest on the top of the horse. The hames need to be fitted inside the horse collar and are then buckled as tight as possible. It's important to make sure the hames are even, so that the weight of the harness is distributed evenly.
Step 5. Britchen. Once the hames are secured, it's time to pull the rest of the horse harness back over the horse, finishing with the britchen. The horse's tail needs to be carefully pulled up over the britchen. Chester is sometimes sensitive about his backside, so I worked carefully.
Step 6. Straps. Now it's time to work under the horse. A strap called a "pole strap" is looped through a belly band. The pole strap runs up through Chester's front legs, and then around his collar. Quarter straps along the sides of the horse are fastened. Will need to practice all this a few more times before I feel comfortable knowing what I'm doing.
Step 7. Work.
Step 8. Unharness. When it's time to unharness the horse, everything comes off in the opposite order.