Help support TMP

"Harnessing a draft horses team" Topic

15 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the 18th Century Painting Guides Message Board

Back to the Napoleonic Painting Guides Message Board

Areas of Interest

18th Century

Featured Hobby News Article

Top-Rated Ruleset

Rank & File

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

28mm Acolyte Vampires - Based

The Acolyte Vampires return - based, now, and ready for the game table.

Featured Workbench Article

Modeling 1:1200 Scale Napoleonic Sailing Ships

Volunteer Fezian shares his techniques for painting, rigging and basing Age of Sail warships.

Featured Profile Article

Herod's Gate

Part II of the Gates of Old Jerusalem.

622 hits since 14 Sep 2020
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

14Bore15 Sep 2020 11:08 a.m. PST

I think I have down how a 4 horses team of draft horses is done, but adding more to 6 or 8 is a mystery I can't find a good picture or diagram anyway. Been faking it on the first few but it would be nice to get it right.
On my first I connected the 3rd row to the limber pole, second I made the 3rd row of horses connect to the 2nd row of horses.

Richard Brooks Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 1:10 p.m. PST

Try link
About half way down the page I the set up for six
Also google how to hitch six horses go to images and scroll down to the drawings

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 6:39 a.m. PST

A bunch of pictures which may help. The stagecoach link above very nicely shows how each of the first four horses pulls through a transverse bar directly behind, a swingle. For each pair of horses this is or course doubled and attached to a narrower but similar cross pole. Eventually all the traction is transmitted through a longitudinal pole. Remember the rear pair have a much more complicated set of straps over their rump (a sort of braking mechanism).

The one difference from the much later stagecoach is that there is only one central, longitudinal pole, which only extends just beyond the rear most pair of horses. Ah, so how do a third or even fourth row of horses pull anything? The answer is; not terribly well actually. Basically they are pulling the horse (or at least his harness straps) directly behind him. In other words your second attempt was spot on for the era!







Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 8:00 a.m. PST

The above was the 18mm version and the ropes were not actually attached at that stage I now see. Try this, Boney's coach in 28mm, obviously based on French Artillery harness system for six.


IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 9:06 a.m. PST

Both of you have provided some good information on traces.
Thank you.

14Bore16 Sep 2020 1:35 p.m. PST


Closest is copy of my Russians in the middle, the 2nd row ropes are cast, I made the front out of thread. The back is Prussians,each horse is cast like the miniature model, I added the ropes.
Thanks for explaining it,making 3 x 6 horses for the position batteries.

Stoppage16 Sep 2020 3:23 p.m. PST

I read somewhere that the Gribeauval limbers used up horses very quickly (one year).

Something about the rear pair not only providing the braking force (see the chains in d-h's sketch drawing) but also having to bear weight vertically because the limber wheels were small.

Which is a shame because the rear ones were probably the most experienced.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 3:58 a.m. PST

Absolutely right. Very hard on the rear pair. They did most of the steering and indeed pulling.

The chain attached to the front of each collar and running to the centre pole will only work for these two critters. Plus they have the far more complex rear harness as modelled by most makers. This spreads the vertical load over their rear but, more importantly, is another part of the way of restraining the carriage on any slope. The vehicle wants to run forward, the driver wants the horses to stop it, so they slow down. The vehicle is now pushing against their rear ends. However many times I read that it still somehow sounds wrong, but it isn't.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 3:40 p.m. PST

I don't think that modern illustration/ interpretation is correct.
I can't find my close ups slides of a limber somewhere, but I believe those chains at the lead are:
-attached to the side of the shaft on a fixed ring,
-attach to the horse collars directly, so the horses neck is the lift AND PULL, not the pull straps along flanks, that also terminate at the lower collar.

If I remember correctly, I 'hand measured' one of them and that strap was about an inch thick, maybe 30mm double stitched.
Maybe, cheers d

* To be picky- they were nags not thoroughbreds, so hairy!
And BTW, Roustam/ Ali wasn't a driver, he was a personal servant/ valet, so he rode i rider seat or his own mount.**

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 6:03 a.m. PST

Oh certainly Boney's personal Mameluke servant was not a driver or postillion. Tradition often shows him sitting on the coachman's seat, however perilous that arrangement might have been. I put him there on the 28mm version but not on the 18mm one, now in Oz. Perched there he had no control over the carriage as far as I know, not even a brake!

The modern illustration is of course from the Jouineau "Histoire and Collections" series. The chains as a lift is an interesting thought and makes perfect sense if there is no traction from the horses ahead.

Where is the centre of balance of a limber then, with a gun in tow? I somehow imagine the pole would head skywards without the horses, not sink to the ground. I imagined the chains having little braking effect. (they would just pull the collar off the horse's head.)

Bet they were more for steering. It is the only way I can see the rear horses turning the pole right or left.

Michael Head's French Nap Art 1977 confirms your recall of the chain arrangement though. see drawing C and the text with it


Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 4:13 p.m. PST

Whew thanks for that small confirmation. I have 'Head' but didn't think to check, now I will. [I'd been trying to detail my guns years ago, now I have a cheval compagnies in flight I shall do so again].

Without going too 'left field' "The modern illustration is of course from the Jouineau "Histoire and Collections" series"- only purchsed a couple but note they too take compromises in 'computer design' too far.

This same topic in their Artillery part 2 copy, uses the same illustrations for Griibeauval and other system while text clearly stating a differentiation in use/ impact of 'insufficient curvature' in the form of equipment.

Also they state that the 4pdr gun carriage/wheels and limber were 'incompatible' with all others, yet again they've shown identical design and size!

14Bore19 Sep 2020 5:50 a.m. PST

My first Russian team


Have 2 more to go, will try to shorten up the line to the middle team.

14Bore26 Sep 2020 12:50 p.m. PST


Second to last try, 1 more team to go then onto Prussians.

britishbulldog04 Oct 2020 3:21 a.m. PST

For the chains between draught horses not harnessed directly to the shafts. I use a product available from namely steel hawser. If you are interested in checking out this product it is in their scenic accesories section ref no GS 343. This is ideal for 28mm horses and could be used on other scales.
ShaT1984 is correct about how the horse was attached to the shaft, however at the collar end the chains were attached to "aims" by way of plates and then to a hook on a bracket on the shaft. The aims were slotted into the collar and secured by a strap at the top and a chain at the bottom. On the aforementioned bracket was another hook for the rear chain which was fixed to the
"Brichens". the part of the harnes that went around the rear of the horse. When braking, or reversing the vehicle, the horse would push back into the Brichens thus providing some braking force. It follows therefore that unless the vehicle is provided by some other means of applying a brake the horse in the shafts is the sole source of braking. Going back to the bracket fitted to the shaft this allowed some lateral movement a hook to which the chain supporting the shafts was attached to. This chain was carried in a groove in the saddle. Therefore the horse had the weight of the shafts only of a four wheeled vehicle. Horse drawn two wheeled vehicles were constructed with an inbuilt "balance" so that the minimum weight on a horses back was achieved.
Hope the above helps explain the harnessing of the horse in the shafts.
Where you had a pole between two horses and no shafts as such both horses would aid braking. How the harness was arranged on the opposite side of the pole so that the horses could apply even braking I do not know.
Regarding the distribution of pulling power I had always thought that the drivers where there to ensure all horses where in the team "doing their bit".

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2020 10:44 a.m. PST

Somewhere in my library I have an estimate of how little successive teams of horses added to traction, once you got beyond four. If you stuck to pairs, then the horses towards the front were only pulling through the traces of their pals behind. Not through the horses themselves I admit but directly through their harness.

Somewhere, at a subcortical level in my brainstem, I have retained the figure of 10% benefit for every additional pair. No evidence whatsoever mind you.

That driver can, and probably did, flog the horses at the very front, but maybe to little purpose.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.