Horses have been domesticated for thousands of years. Throughout the centuries, horses have been used for pulling carts, hauling heavy loads, for ploughing fields and for pulling barges along the canals. Their muscular backs and powerful hindquarters made the heavy horses perfect for such duties and to cope with the awful conditions of the paths and roads.
With the rise of motorised transport and the arrival of the railways, the need for heavy horses decreased over the years. Today heavy horses like Shires have become more popular as working on small farms, used instead of tractors, and driving horses, often entered in competitions called “heavy horse trials”.
There are a number of breeds with different sizes and characteristics but they all share common traits of strength, patience and docile temperament, often described as gentle, friendly giants, perfect for driving competitions.
However, driving heavy horses requires a strong and sturdy harness and as horses don’t come in standard size, it is extremely important that your horse is equipped with the right harness for the best possible performance while carriage driving.
Zilco offers a wide range of harnesses especially designed for horses of sturdier proportions and can help creating a bespoke fit to suit any type and size of horse.
Zilco Elite and ZGB are the most popular and robust harnesses in the Zilco range for horses with sturdier proportions. Both harnesses are strong but lightweight, only weighing around 13kg, with wide load bearing surfaces, thicker strapping and parts to suit larger animals. Both harnesses are suitable for commercial driving and driving trials. The only difference between the two is the style of the breastplate. In the Elite model, the traces buckle into the breastplate in the traditional way, whilst the ZGB model comes with a combo breastplate and traces allowing for easy conversion between singles and multiples.
All parts are available in different sizes and can be mixed to suit individual horses.
Made from Zilco’s PVC coated synthetic webbing, these harnesses are of very easy maintenance, warm soapy water is all you need to keep them clean; unlike leather products, they can be disinfected in a mild solution of multi-purpose disinfectant to keep bacteria at bay, with no damage to the materials, maximising your driving time.
They are extremely robust yet very comfortable and can be used all day long. For those who prefer to use a full collar, with only a few minor adjustments, Zilco harnesses can be fully compatible for use on all occasions.
For those who are looking for a more economical harness, Zilco offers two lightweight models made from high quality multi-ply woven webbing. The WebZ harness weighs around 10kg and the Tedex, the lightest harness of the Zilco range weighs around 7kg. Both models are available up to Extra Full size for larger animals and again, all parts can be mixed between cob to extra full size to obtain a bespoke fit.
The WebZ is a light, flexible and resilient harness, easy to fit and extremely versatile with a combo breastplate for easy conversion of single-pair driving.
Zilco WebZ harness | Courtesy of Serge Armenian
The Tedex has been one of the most favourite models among pleasure drivers for over 30 years. With girth, breastplate and breeching made from soft waffle texture anti-gall PVC with a padded foam core, it is very light and easy to handle. However it is available for single driving only.
Despite the different material, both harnesses are still robust and suitable for competitions. They represent a more affordable option for heavy weight working and driving activities without compromising on safety and strength. The soft synthetic webbing and padding are perfect for comfort and easy maintenance; you can clean them in the washing machine or with a pressure hose.
Since 1962 Zilco has been making lightweight racing products from revolutionary synthetic materials marrying high quality, ingenious design and traditional skills. This philosophy continues to form the basis of Zilco’s product development activities today. This knowledge and experience, coupled with constant market research is the driving force behind Zilco’s innovative products.
Today Zilco is a recognised world leader in the equestrian market for a variety of disciplines such as endurance, carriage driving, racing and harness racing. With its headquarters in Sydney, offices in Christchurch, NZ and Shennington, Oxfordshire, UK, Zilco continues to export to over 20 countries.