I would like to know if there are any particular carts that are more suitable for children. I have seen some that have fenders over the wheels and others that don't. We are looking to buy a pony for our children and would like to learn to drive but I want them to be safe. Some of the pony carts have nothing to them. I would love to have one with brakes and air-bags. Any suggestions of where to look?
Also this is the possible pony - any opinions would be great.
are you planning on showing or just pleasure driving for fun.
If showing is not the immediate need, look into simple easy entry carts. They are easy for children and adults to get in and out of plus they tend to be built such that children can touch the floor. Don't let that deter you completely because a riser box can be inserted below the child's feet to take up the difference.
If you are just starting out, do lots of research about cart balance first before buying. I have had many clients buy in the $800 or lower range and the cart construction and balance causes more trouble that the money they saved. Some simple carts can be altered for tweeking fit and balance to driver and pony.
Fenders are not a deal braker if it has a substantial arm rest. You can add armrests or fenders post purchase, too.
One caution, many of the simple easy entry carts, especially metal ones, have terrible suspension and should not be taken over rough ground, lest you want a sore pony and dental bills.
And remember, NEVER turn the children loose to drive the pony without an adult in the seat with them. At my facility, all students are required to have no less than three years of driving experience under their belts and they must be 14 years or older before going solo. Both requirements, no exceptions...you don't like it, buy your kid a bicycle.
Be sure the child can either put his feet flat or that you can construct some way for him to use his feet to help stablize himself. A guard to keep his feet from leaving the basket, getting caught in the axel or wheel would be good.
I take it the pony already knows how to be driven? i would start by looking at what type of cart and harness the current owners are already using as that is what the pony is used to and then weighing from there how that may/may not meet your needs. Also find your driving instructor first before buying the pony, if you have not already, and ask for their opinion on what type of cart would be suitable for your use.
Thanks for the replies so far. We have no intention of showing just driving around the farm. The pony is only 38" tall so would I look at buying a mini harness? Can I find something made of biothane because I am terrible about cleaning tack? Are my cart choices going to be limited because the pony is so small? The woman who is selling the pony runs a children's program and only bought the pony to get the cart he came with. Her neighbor, a few acres over, drives and tested out the pony and said that he knows what he is doing. Which is great but how long will it be before I know what I am doing? Can I just take a few lessons or is this going to be something long term like riding lessons?
Lastly, how many of you have children wear helmets while driving? I am going to look at this pony tomorrow and see if he is as cute in person.
All children should wear helmets whether riding or driving. again, no exceptions.
I know we all grew up bare headed and barefooted but times have changed. What we know about head injuries is a lot more than when we all were scrappy kids. I have a son now and would never let him do the stupid and unsafe things we did growing up.
Your cart choices are only limited by your budget and your patience. I agree with the poster who says see the cart the pony came with. If the seller has the equipment, definately see the pony driven from start to finish. on second thought, if the owner runs a driving program for children, beware of why she is selling the pony. She wouldn't sell her good ones. Is he kid-safe? If so, ask why she isn't keeping him.
As far as your driving skills, get lessons. How long you should take lessons under an instructor depends on your ability to learn. The only thing that makes driving easier is that you do not have to sit on the horse. Athleticism is at a minimum but there is just as much to learn about driving as riding. skill and safety take time and practice.
Perhaps you should get you AND THE KIDS some proper lessons before purchasing anything. I would hate to find out that the kids lost interest soon or worse, got hurt because they will ill-instructed.
Remember, taking lessons is an activity. Owning the horse is a responsibility.
winfieldfarm - I agree on many of your points. There is a bit of a story to the sale of the pony. The owner doesn't run a driving program for children. It is a horse program of sorts and she acquired a driving pony several years ago and realized how much all of the children preferred that to riding. She has her string of horses and ponies and doesn't wish to add to the herd. She only wanted the cart and harness.
We have other horses so this is not a first horse/pony impulse buy. If we end up with this guy he will be with us forever whether or not the children lose interest. But I have plenty of children.
If we take lessons it would be for all of us.
Cart question - I have been looking online at several setups and noticed something - are the shafts of the carts supposed to be parallel to the ground? Some carts when hitched to the horse or pony have the seat jacked up at an almost 45 degree angle. Is this normal? Is the seat supposed to be level?
sorry to assume, just wanted to express concern if need be. my apologies!
Shafts should be balanced. By this I mean that you can check balance by sitting in the cart with someone holding the shafts. Put a kid in with you becuase you will be driving with them. Have the shaft holder lift or lower the shafts with you in the cart until they find the spot where the cart balances itself without them having to hang on for dear life.
If that sweet spot is not in the general vicinity of parallel, then you can have problems. Shaft tips too high for sweet spot means that yes, the cart and YOU are doing a pop-a-wheelie! This arrangement pulls up on the horses tummy, very bad.
If your weight is so far behind the axle that the shafts have to be tipped down, that's bad too. Too much weight on pony's back.
sometimes in the simple design cart, the seat can be shifted forward or back to change the sweet spot of balance.
NOW - Just because a cart has a sweet spot with shafts level doesn't mean that the cart fits the pony. Tug loops are meant to have some adjustment up and down to accomodate some height difference BUT!
If you put a cart to a pony who is too tall, the shafts will be tipped up. If the angle of degree is higher than the cart's original sweet spot, you're out of balance.
Likewise for ponies too short for the cart.
There are some ways to adjust the HEIGHT of your cart such as addind blocks on top of the axles ( some contraversy to this. See the Line of Draught thread)
Or you can get bigger or smaller wheels to keep your shafts horizontal.
Sometimes the seat can be raised without changing anything else about the cart.
Finding a cart can be as exhausting and frustrating as finding a riding saddle fit.
I suggest again, see this pony driving. If the cart fits, offer to buy. IF they won't give it up (the cart) , take pics and measurements so that you have info to shop around on. Same with the harness. Do you have an impartial friend who drives who can go with to help you examine all this as you view the pony?
I will go armed with a camera and post photos and videos here and hopefully COTH will come to my rescue. They are not going to sell me the cart for sure but good idea about pictures and measurements. We are going to ride the pony for starters and then as time permits we will begin the journey into driving. I feel like a little girl all excited about getting a pony. How silly is that!!
Thanks for the explanation about the balance of the cart. I saw a few videos on youtube that were very informative and I can see that this may possibly become addictive.
We had a 40" mini, not too much height difference in the little guy in question. We have a small pony size harness from Country Carriages USA. 52-53" shafts with 26" wheels fit our mini nicely, 48" shafts were just a bit too short, they work nicely on my 36" by normal measures 35" by mini measures. Definately go with a larger wheel 20-24" are going to be too short for the pony in question.