We visit Coblentz Collar Shop in Millersburg, Ohio
The Coblentz family has been making horse collars since 1975 when Robert Coblentz made them by hand. Today, his son Marion and his staff of crafts people produce a wide variety of horse and pony collars.
Marion shows us all the critical parts that are assembled to make a perfect collar. Watch as his crafts people cut the leather to the perfect pattern/size for different size collars.
A press cuts pieces from a large library of patterns to fit any size draft horse. Pieces are held in place with staples and then stitched together. Holes are punched and the laces are stitched by hand. The edges are hand trimmed.
Next the rims are attached which is very tricky. After most of the sewing assembly, the collars are stuffed with straw. The straw is forced through the wet leather tubes to fill the collar. After that, the main cavity of the collar is filled with straw. The straw in these steps is cut to work best for each particular use. Long straw and fine straw are both use depending on the usage. Wheat straw is used exclusively. Collar stuffing machines are very rare and it is fascinating to see them, and the craftsman using them.
After the collars are stuffed, they are placed in a mold/press of sorts to create the hame. The ends of the collars are cleaned of excess straw, trimmed, stitched and finished together with handwork and final sizing. The leather has been treated with oils before beginning the entire process.
A word from Marion explains why this expert shop makes world famous collars for draft horse!
It is important to note that synthetic collar material will not mold as well to the horse’s neck shape. Leather is more flexible and moldable therefore, more comfortable.
Coblentz makes adjustable collars. They explain that these collars should be used for a horse that may gain/lose weight due to winter/summer weight. They should not be used for various sized horses. The ENTIRE load is coming through this collar and it should fit correctly at all times.
The skill and precision of these crafts people is impressive.