I may be looking into a career change for my mare. She's a big, pretty saddlebred who isn't quite game enough for the showring, so we may be headed for the pleasure driving/marathon ranks. My conundrum is that she is 17.2h, not overly heavy bodied, but has legs that won't quit. It seems that most vehicles I've seen have a line like "used w/my 15.2 horse" or "used with large pony" I don't think I've seen anything advertised as "used with my 16h+ horse" Anybody have any suggestions?
Just keep looking, they're out there. Just make sure you don't get draft weight stuff for your draft height Saddlebred. You sure don't need shafts to fit the width a round-barreled Belgian for your horse.
If you're going to do marathon, get a nice light marathon vehicle (2-wheeled if you or the horse are beginners, they're safer). Most of these have adjustable shafts for length and they'll also rotate making the shaft spacing variable to fit your horse's beam.
The vehicles are out there. You can always have one built. A new meadowbrook (some love em', some hate em') from School Lane Carriage Shop in Gap, PA (Amish built and beautiful carts) will be under $1,800 with all the bells and whistles...and they can adjust the shafts to fit what you drive. Your horse's height is basically a change in shaft length and wheel height...pretty simple to change shafts for longer ones and to block the body to raise it up. Hit the Martin's Auction if you're on the East Coast, twice a year and some good bargains...bring someone with you who knows carriages.
My 16.3 saddlebred, with legs that don't quit too, used a road cart I bought from Running Brook Farm in Vt. Its amish made, and I believe the same one driving essentials uses.
The road carts are much lighter than the meadowbrooks.
What I have found, is most people drive smaller horses, or drafts, so I am not surprised your difficulty.
I would sell you mine since the horse is retired, but one day, maybe I will get another 16+ horse. I am probably dreaming, but not ready to sell it yet.
Not sure how much you want to spend, or whether you want a 2 wheel or 4 wheeled vehicle, but I'd put the word out and even advertize you are looking if you want used. If new, I'd go to nearest reputable dealer in your area.
Have fun. My sb was a pleasure to drive.
I second the Meadowbrook. I have ASBs that I drive, and it is a nice choice to get started. They are sturdy and balanced enough for some careful cross country driving, as well.
Be sure to get your harness from a good harness maker. I got mine at Driving Essentials, and, even with me giving them measurements, the harness was wrong. You will want breeching- something your horse has not worn before, but will need, and will get used to. The ASBs love the opportunity to drop their heads a bit, and go forward more- you'll have a blast, too!
Prices at Martin's were up and down - the nice stuff still went for decent money - what you would reasonable expect to spend regardless of the economy - but some of the restored stuff (several beautiful pieces) went only for what it took to restore it. Quite a loss to the sellers. I didn't pay any attention to the flock of marathon vehicles up there to be sold, but will say that several were in really nice condition, well worth thinking about if you were involved in that sport. (I'm not, so I don't)
We were only up there for Friday to see a Brewster Coleman Phaeton that was supposed to have been there to be sold - we had used this same carriage as a model for building one for our pony pair. Sadly, it was a no-show. So we spent most of our time chatting with friends, trying on hats (me, of course) and attending the smaller item auction in the other corner of the building, bidding on small things. Don't know what Saturday's auction prices were like, but they didn't have any decent carriages in the field, except for your plethora of sleighs, as always.
I've been driving for quite a few years, and know some over the hill driving folks, so as to harness, etc., I have a pretty good idea of what's what. Let's put it this way, my saddlebred work harness has a britching made to match. A previous saddlebred trainer thought it was the breast collar, which was pretty funny, and sad.
A family friend used to drive a 17H morgan to a Meadowbrookthat was nice (sold when he died of course), but for the most part, I find them pretty unattractive. Functional yes, but there are alot of uglies out there.
I had been thinking along gig lines, but I honestly I've been hoping we could motivate her to something beyond country pleasure. I figure if I'm stuck with CP, I may as well do the carriage thing - they have better hats. Which may almost balance out having to deal with minis. I hate showing around those things.
Almost all the PA cart makers do a version of both carts and the prices are all about the same - just how you customize
My cart seats lower than the spinner and is rear entry, but it suits our needs and is comfortable. I have no trouble seeing over the horses and we drive a 15.2H and 15.3+H draftX
You may need to consider a "cranked" axle to lift the cart body. That is one that has bends in it to raise the center of the axle higher than the axlestubs for the wheels
Largest wheels you can reasonably get are 52 inch. They are made bigger but usually not for he basic carts
The Eaglet cart (IMO) works better for ponies than horses