How to Make Harnesses for a Model Horse

Updated November 21, 2016

If you have model horses and carriages, you will also need a correctly fitting harness for a realistic turnout. Harness making kits are available online and these make a good starting point. However, it is cheaper and more satisfying to make your own harness from scratch. If you have a model horse on an unusual scale, making your own harness may be your only option.

Try to use the softest, finest leather you can (old gloves are a good source). If the leather is too stiff, it will be difficult to manipulate.

There are several types of harness available, so find a clear illustration of the type you want to act as a guide.

Use the craft knife and ruler to cut a number of thin strips from the leather. The width of the strips will depend on the scale of the model. You can also use scissors for this stage if the leather is thin enough.

To make the bridle, cut short lengths of wire and twist them into rings. Pass one ring over the end of a strip of leather, fold the leather round and glue it back onto itself.

Hold the bit ring at the level of the model's mouth, and pass the free strip of leather over the head. Estimate the level of the other bit ring, and glue the second ring in place. Trim off any excess leather.

To make the nose band, cut a strip of leather the right length to go around the model's nose. Glue it into a ring, then glue it to the rest of the bridle above the bit rings.

Cut a short strip of leather for the brow band, and glue to the rest of the bridle so that it sits across the model's forehead.

Cut a very thin strip of leather to form the throat latch. If you want to take the bridle on and off the model, you will need to attach a buckle. Otherwise, the throat latch can simply be glued into place.

Make a buckle by cutting a short piece of wire and twisting it into a figure-eight shape with the pliers. Cut a short piece off the throat latch strap, making sure that the remaining piece is still long enough to reach right under the model's throat.

Glue the buckle to one end of the long strap, wrapping the end of the leather through one loop of the figure of eight. Glue the other end to the offside of the bridle underneath the brow band. Glue one end of the short strap to the other side of the brow band. Allow all the glue to dry completely before trying to do the buckle up.

Construct the rest of the harness in the same way, making the buckles larger or smaller as necessary. If you are constructing a harness where the reins need to pass through metal keepers, the best way to do this is to bend a piece of wire into a loop and punch it through the leather. Glue a spare scrap of leather over the sharp ends to prevent them from scratching the model.


Be careful when glueing straps together. Ideally, remove the harness from the model whilst the glue dries, or you may find the leather permanantly attached to the horse.


Take care when using craft knives and pliers.

Things You'll Need

  • Illustration of harness
  • Soft fine leather
  • Craft knife
  • Cutting board
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Wire and pliers, or shop bought bit rings and buckles
  • Glue
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