What do you use for pole straps (what attaches to the collar and then to the pole)? I know that the chains are reserved for owner/drivers only and seem more formal and too heavy duty for my little ponies. I have a pair harness and only need the straps to become functional. The straps looks pretty generic and I wonder if straps off another harness might do the trick. Thanks.
Now I really have to show my ignorance, but I think it is a dropped pole. It is on a marathon vehicle. Are the fixed poles mainly on antique and reproductions?
I can honestly tell you have I have used heavy duty nylon dog collars for pole straps.
I am not saying its safe, there is a big gaping hole, but it was in a pinch, and they worked. The horses that I used the dog collars on where very experienced and they knew their job. With a pair of green beans or the driver is new to driving pairs, I would not do it.
You ideally want a strap of leather that is going to double back on itself like a hame strap or a breeching strap. A breeching strap is not going to be strong enough.
Just bit the bullet and get a pair of biotane pole straps for less than $20.00 a pop.
Well... we don't know the size of the ponies or the vehicle- so a pair of hold backs from a normal size single horse harness could very well be stout enough for a lighter vehicle- but ideally you'd want to get the real thing from a harness maker.
Our marathon vehicle has a wide yoke on the end, so we just snap the yoke on pole to the breast collars.
Other marathon vehicles have a pole head type end with loops, so they could use straps or quick-release pole straps.
Most marathon vehicles have a "sprung pole, which is self-supporting, but very flexible up and down for the animals in rolling ground or conditions of hazards.
Even with ponies, you should be using double thickness straps for pole straps. Being doubled, the strap is not going to stretch if it is stressed, has more strength than a single layer.
Even with a marathon vehicle, when not having a pole ending in a yoke, you need to have the pole longer than pony or horse bodies. Actually pole head end should stop about even with pony nose, when standing relaxed in front of the vehicle. That length allows the pair of equines to have a good leverage factor to control their vehicle.
Using too short of a pole with a pole head, can make any vehicle control hard on the equines, often pulling them sideways with the pole straps, instead of directly forward. The longer pole straps with the long pole, let the pull all be forward with little or no sideways pull on the chest.
Not really. All depends on the maker, family of vehicles, and sometimes the country of origin.
Originally Posted by JustFive
Can you put a photo of your vehicle online somewhere and post a link? How big are your ponies, do they wear breast or neck collars, and does your pairs harness have britching? Perhaps also the relative weight of vehicle, and type of driving you intend to do on what type of terrain? Asking because a simple britching strap subbing as a pole strap may be perfectly fine for your needs...or not. :)
Goodhors brought up a very good topic about the length of the pole and the way it finishes making a big difference in how the ponies get tied in there! The dynamics of those angles and pole length is a very important thing to understand.
Sometimes there is a seperate piece that fits over the pole- a yoke- which you usually see in farm equipment or as a fixture for a four in hand. The width of the yoke allows the harness to connect straight forward from the horse to the tip of his side of the yoke.
Fancier than farm wagons and lighter vehicles often have a piece of hardware on the end of the pole that does away with the yoke- it's called a crab.
Justfive- there is one more option between a fixed and dropped pole- and it's common on marathon vehicles- that's a sprung/spring pole- which supports itself rather than hanging off the horses... it's connection has some give so the horses aren't going to get fiercly yanked around when you go over rough terrain.
Sorry, I have to get a bit technical here, because you shouldn't use terms in the wrong place and expect people to understand what you mean.
Originally Posted by Plainandtall
A pole head, is used with a Pair. It has loops that may be tight to the pole or arms making the loops stick out for attaching the pole straps/chains that run to the horse. There are any number of options created for pole heads, but they ALL are for Pairs only. Chains are only correct in showing, on certain types of vehicles according to old traditions. Not correct on light vehicles like buggies.
A crab is the hook part on a pole, separate from the pole head, that extends beyond the end of the pole and pole head, for hanging the Lead Bars of a Four or the swing pole of a Six or more hitch of horses. So if you take the crab off the pole, you will still have the pole head left, correct for a Pair.
The yoke is very SELDOM seen on a pole with a crab in CARRIAGES. I have seen ONE on an imported European Dressage vehicle, modern build, very fancy, attached behind the crab, under the pole head. Yoke was fixed on the pole, not easily removed. This allowed the pole to be shorter, kept the Wheelers straighter. Might be an idea done for that driver, not sure if it will get common as an option or be the "only one".
The marathon vehicle yokes on the sprung poles come in a BIG variety of widths, not just short ones. Our yoke is fully the width needed to reach center of chest on our large horses. We didn't care for how harness and horses worked, pulling with very narrow yokes, off the point of shoulder. Horses were crowded/pulled into the pole, had poor vehicle control, so we widened our yoke out. They are quite happy with the wide yoke, which has not ever been an issue in marathon hazards. Doesn't get hung up at all. If you have a 2012 Mischka calendar, there is a clear photo of a modern, wide yoke on a pair as the March picture. The May photo shows a Pair with a pole head with loops and quick-release snaps on their pole straps. Here is the site, still have the 2012 photos up for viewing. Yoke is on the bay Pair, pole head is the Fjords.
Yoke slid onto pole end could be on the drop-tongue wagon, with a hitch of draft type animals. This kind of yoke is not fixed on the pole, very flexible, used with a long pole. Then crab extends beyond the pole end, to hang Lead Bars or a swing pole for the next Pair ahead of the Wheelers.
The light Drop Pole of light carriages also has a slide-on yoke, with a wide enough yoke to buckle onto chest center of the Pair pulling the vehicle. The pole end STILL goes out to the nose end of the horses. However you need to be tightening the traces and pole straps rather firmly, so horse is "between" the front and rear attachments, to prevent the yoke moving forward and falling off the pole end. A safety strap to hold yoke on pole is helpful. On the light carriages, buggies with drop poles, this does take a bit different hitching tension than what most use for carts or marathon vehicles. As I said, the horse can move about WITHIN his harness, but harness stays tighter to keep the yoke in place. You don't SEE loose traces if it is done correctly, they are ALWAYS snug. Bad wreck could happen if the pole dropped out from the yoke and dug into the ground, so this is "the Why" of the reasoning for constant tightness. Horse himself is not tight in his postition or girthing, just the harness to the vehicle front to back. Driver needs to "keep the horse up" in his correct postion for pulling, so the Pair does equal work while traveling along. Some horses learn to coast along, while partner does ALL the work, if Driver is not paying attention.
Being specific in naming things allows you to better visualize the EXACT idea put forward. We do Pairs and Fours, so we have to be specific in terms to talk to a Clinician or Coach, Trainer, for communication. You come off as a weenie, are not "serious" about self-improvement if you misname things!
Of course doing Drafts, they use the same terms differently, so you have to be able understand that too, in talking hitching and vehicles with Draft folks.
This is NOT meant as a put down to anyone or their style of driving. With horses there is SO MUCH in terms that is used incorrectly, names are local or sorta-like the correct one. They are age-old names passed on from grandparents or even further back. If we can't use the same terms, we can't pass along ideas so the listener understands CLEARLY what is being said. And that would be sad or even dangerous if they tried to use the misunderstood idea incorrectly.
Thanks so much Goodhors- I always thought the pole head was called a crab.
I found a catalog of various types here:
And I can't find anything called a crab. Could you refer me to something that might be illustrated so I can be sure to get this right? I don't want to be a weenie!
Wow, thanks for all the good information. I find it so much easier to get a driving education than to get the nuts and bolts (literally) on fitting carriages and harness. It is such an individual thing for each horse and driver set up. My carriage has a loop end pole that is spring supported. The pole straps needed look like a simple biothane strap so I'll just wait for the orange trailer to get here this next week to buy something.
Picture a shepherd's staff with a curled hook at the end for snagging sheep. Lay that staff flat (horizontal) with the curl pointing upwards just in advance (in front of) the wheel horses' heads ...and you have the image of a fixed pole with a crab. :)
Originally Posted by Plainandtall
Most crabs (if not all) have a leather strap that "closes" the hook opening when the leader bars are in place. That strap keeps the leader bars from being flung off in case of any accident.
If it is spring supported, I'd call it a (modified flexible) fixed pole - one that doesn't need the yoke that would be required with a dropped pole. :)
Originally Posted by JustFive
You don't want chains - your vehicle isn't the right type for them. Whatever harness you use - leather, synthetic, biothane - go ahead and use the same for the pole straps. Just be sure the straps are strong, durable, and up to the job. I can assure you - the stresses can be pretty intensive at times on those straps, and you don't want them to give way at a critical moment.
Good luck! :)
Plainandtall, the site you linked, does indeed show Team of Four pole heads with crabs. The hook part is called the crab, as GTD said. Having the strap to buckle the tip of crab to the pole itself is ALWAYS a good idea for safety while driving the vehicle. Leaves nothing to hook bridle or reins on with itchy headed horses.
The names and descriptions on the site don't CALL the hook part a crab. Perhaps it is presumed you know the names of the parts, so naming them is too obvious or they do not the space to list each part.
Max Pape calls the hook a crab in his old book "The Art Of Driving", as does Sally Walrond in her book "The Encyclopedia of Carriage Driving". We learned of the crab name from reading the old books and talking to folks who drove Fours. AMAZING how much there is to discuss on JUST the hook part!! How they preferred different makes of crabs with reasons for those choices.
When we got our Four going, we found those reasons to have a lot of merit in making our own crab choices. We hated a couple of the crabs we tried. Leader Bars didn't swing freely as needed, didn't drop with Leaders out of draft. Problems like that can CAUSE accidents or damaged equipment, by not working as they should. Leader Bars sometimes also needed some "tailoring" to work on the crab as expected.
Fixed pole is one that stays up when the horses are unhitched. Because it is fixed the horses don't carry the weight of the pole when hitched. You need pole straps of chains for this type of pole.
Originally Posted by JustFive
Dropped pole is one that is hinged at the carriage and will rest on the ground or need support when unhitched. The horses will carry the weight of the pole when hitched. For a drop pole I prefer a yoke in front as this way the weight pulls straight down on the neck instead of sideways toward the pole.
Here is a picture of my ponies with a drop pole with a yoke: