Thank you, it's a wonderful video - but that's no buckboard. It's just a standard hitch wagon, heavy enough to take the beating and to let the horses know there's a load back there. If you hitched a six-up to a real buckboard, it would probably spend a lot of time in flight!
Quote-So what's the difference between a standard wagon and a buckboard?
the difference between a Mini Cooper and a semi-truck - one is meant for hauling people and a few things, and one hauls freight.-Quote Pat9
Size and scale of vehicles is not obvious in photos, but Pat9 is correct.
A hitch wagon is what the Budweiser Clydesdales pull, full of the beer crates. Of course they do make smaller ones for smaller horses, but most hitch wagons are made for draft size horses. The one in the video is a good sized one, weighty, solid, but not draft sized. Enough weight for the 6-up to feel it, build strength and stay fit, but not overload them even with snow loaded in it. Good training vehicle to save wear and tear on the much more valuable stagecoach.
The buckboard was made for pulling by a single horse, usually a small animal because everything back then was smaller. Vehicle is light, so single horse doesn't get worn out pulling dead weight. Probably would almost fit in the back of a long bed pickup truck, and not squat truck down at all. The simile given, of buckboard never touching the ground behind the 6-up, is pretty accurate!
Husband got to see the Wells Fargo Stagecoach at our local Fairgrounds. They were staying there to appear in our local "famous" parade. Husband got to talk to the driver, watch them hitching and working the black team. Husband said they were QHs, not really big, pretty well trained, obedient to the driver. He and driver discussed rein handling, turns, how the stagecoach drove and quirks of handling it. Husband had a real good time visiting with them. And yes, the horses DO know how to do a flat-footed walk, easy trot as well as the more exciting canter and gallop shown in the video. Horses are kept pretty fit to be able to do their work easily.
Fun - and amusing to see all the footage of the horses cantering or galloping. Wouldn't stagecoach horses have spent most of their time in trot? And only galloped when being chased by Indians or outlaws? I mean, how long could a team go at a fast canter/gallop when pulling a full coach?
They used a road trot most of the time. Galloping was for emergencies, or for "springing" up a hill. The additional momentum of the gallop helps you get up the hill more easily. Depending on the terrain, say, crossing a canyon, a driver might gallop down in order to have the momentum to climb the other side. Likely the horses would be at a flat walk by the time they topped out the climb.
Janice Holt Giles in "Six Horse Hitch" did a beautiful job of explaining reinsmanship in her historical fiction book, including the practice of galloping uphill pitches. Caveat - this only worked on climbing relatively short stretches - you did NOT do this climbing the Continental Divide or a major grade.
The WF teams gallop because it's showy, and because the old movies and tv shows always show a gallop. I watched "Mule Train" with Gene Autry on Netflix last night, just to look at the terrain and the vehicles (probable Lane Ranch wagons on the freight teams), and found the posse galloping in a tight little mass to be an absolute hoot. You couldn't track anyone at that pace, and your horses would be blown in a mile. It was also painfully obvious why the movie ranches had to have such big strings of stock, as there was a lot of bit jerking and sloppy riding that caused the horses to fling their heads. Ultimately the horses would get so sour that they'd only be good for mass chase scenes or questionable stunt work.
And how long could a team gallop with a coach - in an emergency, maybe ten or twelve minutes. Of course, if they're running away with you, it will be ten or twelve hours (time is relative). These horses in the stage systems were fit, but a driver who brought his horses in completely blown would not be looked at kindly by the stable crew who would have to cool them out. Too much exertion would break them down and ultimately ruin them.
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