Converting Single to Pairs Driving Harness

Classic Pairs Harness


We are often asked if it's possible to use a single set of harness for half of a pairs harness.

The answer is that quite a lot of the parts can be used in both single and pairs however there are some parts which can't or that need additional parts. The extra parts you need will depend largely on which model of harness you have.

Some of the models of Zilco harness have combo breastplates (that is they have traces which are permanently attached or intergral to the breastplate). These models, listed below are far easier and cheaper to convert to pair driving.

Zilco ZGB

Zilco Brun

Zilco SL Plus

Zilco WebZ

Zilco SL with combo breastplate option


For these models all that is required in addition to your two single sets of harness are the following parts.

1 x set of pair reins

1 x pair of pole straps

2 x pairs of breastplate to saddle fittings

Pretty simple right?!

We’ve made it even easier by having these parts available in a handy kit, click your model to view

Zilco ZGB

Zilco Brun

Zilco SL Plus

Zilco WebZ

Zilco SL with combo breastplate


For the models with a more traditional breastplate you will also need to change your breastplate along with the listed parts, you can save a little by replacing only the front section and using your existing wither strap. These models are

Zilco Classic

Zilco Elite

Zilco SL with standard breastplate


So why can’t you just use your single breastplate?

Pair driving is set up differently to singles. The vehicle has a central pole rather than shafts on either side of the pony/horse. The pole runs down the middle between the two ponies/horses. The breastplate serves the same function in that it pulls the vehicle via the traces however it also has an important function in braking. Since you do not have two shafts to attach your breeching to, there has to be a different system in place to stop the vehicle. This is done via the breastplates and pole straps.

Pole straps detail

The pole straps attach to one of the rings on the front of the pair breastplate, the ring closest to the pole is chosen. The other end of the pole strap attaches to the pole.


So now when the vehicle runs forward and therefore the pole runs forward this pulls forward on the front of the pony’s breastplate. The breeching straps are attached to a point on the breastplate or traces so that as the breastplate pulls forward it has the affect of pulling the breeching seat against the pony’s bottom in the same way that single breeching would work.

Pair breeching detail


It is possible to drive pairs with no breeching in some circumstances but the effective breaking on a breastplate is significantly less than on a full collar. You are relying entirely on the braking on the neck of the horse and consideration should be made in relation to the terrain and weight of vehicle and brakes of the vehicle.


The other difference in the breastplate is that it is attached to the backband of the saddle via uptugs. This is in place of the tugs which are not required on pairs harness. Most single breastplates are not long enough to reach the saddle.

Breastplate to saddle fitting


Happy driving!

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1 comment

  • Margo Smith

    Thank you for this Sanchia, it is so interesting and informative.

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