"Drops" are small harness decorations that come in many shapes -- short straps, hearts, circles, initials, etc. They are often decorated with fanciful horse brasses, metal studs, or small bells. Drops have one or more rings, snaps or buckles, so they can be attached in various ways to the horse's harness. Drops also look nice hanging on a doorknob. Common names and locations for drops include:
Hip drop: Hangs from the hip-drop assembly or the back strap. A hip drop will sometimes have a snap at one end and a ring at the other. In this case, a tie strap can be tied to the hip drop ring.
Center line drop: Hangs on the reins where they cross between the horses in a team. This helps keep the reins from tangling.
Hame drop: Hangs from the upper part of the hames. Usually two are used on a single horse.
Neck drop: Hangs from the neck yoke, bottom of the hames, or loops around the bottom of the collar.
Bridle drop: Attaches to the side of the browband where a bridle rosette would be located, to the center of the browband, or to the crown of the headstall.
Photos -- Left: Harness drop with small brass bells.
Middle: A British Clydesdale bedecked with drops, swingers, ribbons and plumes.
Right: Harness drop. No, there are no bells on this example, but one or both of the brasses could be replaced with small bells.
"Swingers" or "flyers" are traditional, highly-collectible harness ornaments in the U.K. They are seldom seen or used in the U.S. A swinger is a delicate, arched bracket made of brass. One or more small open-mouth bells are suspended from the bracket. The top of the swinger may be decorated with a bright horsehair plume.
Swingers are attached to the top of the bridle, the top of the harness saddle or back pad, or the top of the hip drop assembly on the horse's rump. Sometimes the bell clappers are removed from the bells on a swinger mounted on the bridle. I'm sure my horses would be grateful for the courtesy!
Photos -- Left: Two bell swinger with fragile plume made of red and white horsehair. Swinger is 4 inches high, plume is 6 1/2" high from the base to the top of the existing hair.
Middle: Swinger with one bell. 4 inches high overall.
Right: White horsehair plume in excellent shape. Note the narrow brass ring holding the horsehair in place.
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