The Forward Cinch Debate – Under/Under or Over/Over & lengthy shaft loops

This is a minor detail in harnessing, but an important one.  Because the difference in either strapping the forward cinch over the primary traces or under the primary traces is subtle, this detail has been thrown to the wayside.  I will be adding more photographs to this particular post to demonstrate the differences.

I have been taught that the forward cinch should be secured under both primary traces.  A number of judges do consider this to be a major issue, and will consider this a failure to harness and hitch properly.  The logic is that the primary traces should be the only straps that give the cart it’s momentum.  In other words, all pull power comes from the traces, and no other straps should hinder or rub on the traces.  The points of pull are where the siwash is sewn together at the top and the bottom of the neck piece.  See photo below for a visual explanation.  Click photo for larger version. 

The over/over method of securing the cinch is disadvantageous for several reasons. Click on photo below for larger picture.

  • The cinch loop pushes on the primary traces, thus hindering pulling power. 
  • The cinch loop changes the point of pull (particularly at the upper) on the traces so that the harness is now inefficient.  
  • The adjusting buckles on the upper primary traces can get caught on the cinch loop.  This can rub painfully on the dog’s back and/or reducing the dog’s pull power.  
I have never been given a logical explanation of why the forward cinch should be over/over the primary traces.  The correct position should be under/under.  Again, some judges won’t check it, but others will.
The length of the shaft loops is also important.  Shafts should be held close to the dog’s body with little up or down give.  A forward cinch that is too loose or too wiggle room between the cinch or shaft can cause bouncing of the shafts or side to side swaying when the dog is moving.  Additionally, going over hills or bumps can cause the shafts to go up over the dog’s back.  Also make sure that the brakes cannot slip through the shaft loops.  This is a serious safety issue, particularly if the cart is loaded.  I’m a safety stickler.  Make sure all pieces are safety put together before harnessing and hitching your dog. Click on photo for large image.

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