Goats and Bits
#21
We usually drive our goats in 3.5" mullen mouth bits with half spoon cheeks. A mullen mouth bit has a solid curved bar with no joints in it. This is a mild bit which slides back and forth easily in the mouth and can't pinch with a nutcracker action like a regular snaffle. I find it's more than adequate for control. To get the headstall length I just measured over the boys' heads.    
   
   

We also drive in Sopris X halters. They work pretty well but not perfect. For single driving you can generally use a halter but I found that it was difficult to communicate clearly to the goats when we drove in halters as a team. There just isn't enough "release" on the halter, especially in turns. It can be confusing for the goats if they don't feel an immediate release of pressure when they give the right response. 
   

I would love to try a cross-under type bridle someday but haven't had the chance yet. I think it could work really well for driving goats. 

If you want more info, I've written some articles on driving here: 
https://www.goatorama.com/articles/
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#22
Nanno, I thought I was just getting into pack goats but driving sounds amazing! Where should I look for me gear when I'm ready to get started? Can you use stuff made for mini horses or any other animal or does it have to be goat specific? Is it worth trying to build by own stuff?

Any input is appreciated!
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#23
Harnesses made for miniature horses are usually a good fit for full-sized wethers. If there's a choice between Mini A and Mini B size, choose Mini A. Mini A horses are a lot smaller than goats height-wise, but equines are overall much stouter than goats so the Mini A harness generally works a bit better.

I don't usually recommend making your own harness unless you have a heavy duty sewing machine and a good working knowledge of how harnesses function. Some experience harnessing and driving horses is recommended before attempting to build your own goat harness. All the principles of harnessing and driving horses apply to goats as well. If you have a chance to take a horse driving class, take it! It will help you with your goats.

I've written a few articles about harnessing and training goats to drive. The driving articles start at the top:
https://www.goatorama.com/articles/

Good luck! Let us know how you progress!
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#24
Thanks Nanno! Do you have any suggestions on where to buy it all online? If you have a specific suggestion or "buy this stuff" to get started list that would be awesome too. 

There seem to be so many options and price ranges and to have someone just say "get this exact harness, bit, etc" that would be amazing. If that's too much effort I can do my own research like a normal person Smile
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#25
For people just starting out, I recommend the goat harnesses from Hoegger or Caprine Supply. My first harness was a Hoegger Deluxe harness that I bought in 2003 and it's still going strong. It's made from nylon and is sized very well for full-sized wethers. The only problem is that Hoegger's was going through some business problems a couple of years ago and the company had to reorganize. Customers were ordering things and not receiving them. Hopefully they're back on track, but you might want to give them a call and talk to someone in person before ordering anything. The photo is ridiculous. It looks like they put this harness on a yearling and it's built for an adult wether. It fits my big boys very well.
http://hoeggerfarmyard.com/xcart/Deluxe-...rness.html

Caprine Supply also sells a harness and they used to have a photo of it on their website. It looked just like the harness from Hoegger. However, the photo is gone now so I'm not sure if they changed the harness. Once again, might be worth talking to someone and asking if they can send you a photo.
https://www.caprinesupply.com/harness.html

Another option would be the Tough 1 miniature horse harness (lots of different sellers). These are cheaper than the others, but you'd have to do some modifications like remove the crupper and reattach the back strap to the hip strap. You might also have to burn some new holes in places. This brand comes in both nylon and leather. I recommend the nylon! Leather looks nicer in the photos, but the leather quality is usually so bad with these cheap harnesses that they can be pretty much unusable and/or unsafe. It's hard to go too far wrong with nylon. Even if the stitching is substandard in places, you can at least repair it because the material is good. With cheap leather you end up with places so dry rotted, stretched, thin, cracked, etc that it's not even worth stitching back together (and shoddy material may be why the stitching failed in the first place).

That said, my favorite harnesses are the ones I bought from Chimacum Tack. They are betathane, which is a rubber-coated nylon that looks and feels like soft leather but is tough like nylon and cleans up easier than leather or nylon. It's not on their website but you can custom order one. They're not cheap so I don't recommend getting a fancy harness until you're sure you love driving. But if you do get into driving then I highly recommend spending some money on a nice harness. High quality materials and workmanship will last a lifetime and will stay looking sharp. The nylon harnesses are great for starting out and they'll last forever with care, but they don't look very good if you like showboating and driving in parades. Wink

I don't much care for the driving halters that come with the Hoegger and Caprine Supply harnesses. If I'm going to drive in a halter, I use a Sopris X.
https://www.soprisunlimited.com/halters

However, I usually prefer to drive in a bit. I use these:
https://www.amazon.com/Mini-Mullen-Mouth...B0013H1WJC

If you end up using a bit you'll be somewhat on your own with the bridle. Goat heads bear little resemblance to equine heads. I dissected the bridles that came with my Chimacum tack harnesses and used the parts to make something entirely different. Goats with horns (like mine) need fewer bridle straps than goats without horns. Browbands and throatlatches just get in the way if your goat has horns.

Good luck, and feel free to keep asking questions!
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#26
(02-19-2021, 08:26 AM)Nanno Wrote: For people just starting out, I recommend the goat harnesses from Hoegger or Caprine Supply. My first harness was a Hoegger Deluxe harness that I bought in 2003 and it's still going strong. It's made from nylon and is sized very well for full-sized wethers. The only problem is that Hoegger's was going through some business problems a couple of years ago and the company had to reorganize. Customers were ordering things and not receiving them. Hopefully they're back on track, but you might want to give them a call and talk to someone in person before ordering anything. The photo is ridiculous. It looks like they put this harness on a yearling and it's built for an adult wether. It fits my big boys very well.
http://hoeggerfarmyard.com/xcart/Deluxe-...rness.html

Caprine Supply also sells a harness and they used to have a photo of it on their website. It looked just like the harness from Hoegger. However, the photo is gone now so I'm not sure if they changed the harness. Once again, might be worth talking to someone and asking if they can send you a photo.
https://www.caprinesupply.com/harness.html

Another option would be the Tough 1 miniature horse harness (lots of different sellers). These are cheaper than the others, but you'd have to do some modifications like remove the crupper and reattach the back strap to the hip strap. You might also have to burn some new holes in places. This brand comes in both nylon and leather. I recommend the nylon! Leather looks nicer in the photos, but the leather quality is usually so bad with these cheap harnesses that they can be pretty much unusable and/or unsafe. It's hard to go too far wrong with nylon. Even if the stitching is substandard in places, you can at least repair it because the material is good. With cheap leather you end up with places so dry rotted, stretched, thin, cracked, etc that it's not even worth stitching back together (and shoddy material may be why the stitching failed in the first place).

That said, my favorite harnesses are the ones I bought from Chimacum Tack. They are betathane, which is a rubber-coated nylon that looks and feels like soft leather but is tough like nylon and cleans up easier than leather or nylon. It's not on their website but you can custom order one. They're not cheap so I don't recommend getting a fancy harness until you're sure you love driving. But if you do get into driving then I highly recommend spending some money on a nice harness. High quality materials and workmanship will last a lifetime and will stay looking sharp. The nylon harnesses are great for starting out and they'll last forever with care, but they don't look very good if you like showboating and driving in parades. Wink

I don't much care for the driving halters that come with the Hoegger and Caprine Supply harnesses. If I'm going to drive in a halter, I use a Sopris X.
https://www.soprisunlimited.com/halters

However, I usually prefer to drive in a bit. I use these:
https://www.amazon.com/Mini-Mullen-Mouth...B0013H1WJC

If you end up using a bit you'll be somewhat on your own with the bridle. Goat heads bear little resemblance to equine heads. I dissected the bridles that came with my Chimacum tack harnesses and used the parts to make something entirely different. Goats with horns (like mine) need fewer bridle straps than goats without horns. Browbands and throatlatches just get in the way if your goat has horns.

Good luck, and feel free to keep asking questions!
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#27
Thank you so much! That is very helpful. I'll be saving up for the great and will have more questions to come. I really appreciate it
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#28
I just got the hogger team harness and I'm looking forward to driving! I have the sopris halters but you say with team driving you suggest a bit?

Can I alter the sopris halter to allow for a bit or are harnesses way too different from bridles (I don't know the difference)

what would you suggest?
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#29
I definitely recommend using bits if you're going to drive a team. Halters are just too confusing because of their tendency to slide before engaging. This messes up the distance between your goats' reins and creates inconsistent signals.

I don't recommend attaching a bit to the Sopris (or any other) halter. Once again, halters are designed to be looser than bridles and would probably make the bit wobble around to much in the mouth. Get a flat piece of 1/2"-3/4" wide leather or nylon and make a strap to go over the head. You can attach it to the bit using conway buckles or Chicago screws. Make sure the headstall has a buckle and closely spaced holes for easy and proper adjustment. If you use nylon I recommend doubling it so it's not floppy. Burn holes with an awl heated on the stove. Leather is easier and quicker to work with so I recommend it over nylon. For the noseband, make a strap with a buckle at one end and holes in the other (like a dog collar). Slide it through the doubled-over portion of the headstall where it attaches to the bit. Make sure when you're making your headstall that this loop is large enough to go around both the bit ring and the noseband. Doing it this way has two functions. It holds the noseband in place and ensures that the bit can't slide through the mouth under any circumstance. It may also put a little pressure on the goat's nose to assist during turns. If your goats have horns then you don't need any other straps to hold the bridle on. The horns do a wonderful job of keeping it firmly in place. Oh, and the top of the headstall (the crown) goes behind the horns and in front of the ears.
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#30
Awesome! My goats don't have horns so it sounds like I'll need an additional strap? Or would I need to add two straps (one under the neck and one over the ears like a horse bridle)?

Also, the link to the bit you sent before says they are out of stock. Looks like this one below is the same though?

https://www.amazon.com/Weaver-Leather-Mi...187&sr=8-7#
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