Museum to open exhibit on horse tack Saturday

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Putnam County Museum presents a new exhibit opening Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. with an informative lecture by Dr. Willis Parker, who will be presenting the history of the hames and how to identify, collect and preserve them. This event is free and open to the public.

Unless you’re a horse person, you may not know what a hames is, or what function it performs. It’s an odd-looking apparatus to be sure; you may have spotted one in an antique store or thrift shop and wondered, what the heck?

Actually, the “hames” is a piece of tack (horse harness or equipment) which was an early invention that revolutionized the way in which horses were harnessed for work. Prior to the hames, farmers used breast collars or breastplates which fit over a horse’s head and rested at the base of the neck of the horse.

Problem was, the collar restricted airflow through the horses’ windpipe. Imagine trying to pull a full wagon load with your oxygen restricted. The hames and collar invention transferred the weight of the load from the horses’ sternum to the hames themselves, releasing the pressure on the horse’s respiratory system.

Prior to the hames, a typical farmer could barely produce enough food for his family, using a horse with a breast collar. After the hames became ubiquitous, the same farmer could produce significantly more food using the same, now free-breathing horse.

The hames is still a necessary component of the harness used today to hitch a horse to a cart, wagon or carriage, but the hames have become somewhat of a collector’s item.

Since 2003, the museum has been helping to preserve Putnam County’s past. The mission of the museum is to collect, preserve and interpret the natural, historical and cultural heritage of the county.

For more information, persons may contact Executive Director Lisa Mock at 653-8419.

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