Out of curiousity:
In a team of two (side by side) is the better trained horse normally placed on the left or right side? and why?
Is there a name for either the right or left side horse? or both?
In a team of four, two nearest the vehicle, two directly in front of them:
After searching Google, I read that the two horses nearest the vehicle do the stopping, turning, and pulling of the vehicle, what do the horses out in front do? Or is what I read wrong?
I have helped start a few youngsters with a more experienced horse somewhat containing the lesser experienced one. Can’t speak for what others do but generally I would take into account the more experienced horses preferences. So if I always drive the experienced one on the left of the pair when I putting the greener one in harness I’m not going to upset the older one by changing his preferences afterall he’ll be putting up with enough lol…
This is assuming the green horse has already been taught all his basics and has enough driving time behind him to get what this new situation is .Of course also that the older horse is suitable. Usually a boss horse who won’t take any cr*p from a greenie. I’ve a good pair at the moment, but even though they have been a pair now for years, only one of them would be suitable for putting to with a green horse. The other would just use a green horses mistakes as a reason to misbehave himself, he’s a born joker.
Also you’d have to take into account where’d you’d first be driving them, if on the road or somewhere where there are potential spookie things I’d like to see the youngster protected a little from traffic the first few times out by putting the older guy on the traffic side. So really you have to take into account personalities and the unique driving situation
As for driving four in hand the wheelers are closer to the carriage and are the strength of the team, braking and pulling and controlling. The leaders are out in front of the wheelers. They are in front so cannot help with braking, but can of course with pulling. Traditionally the wheeler is a stronger steady type and the leader is the forward going type and a show-off as well as afterall he’s out in front and you don’t want a timid backward type out there. So basically your leaders are you go-go button and your wheelers are your stop-stop button (put crudely) but they all pull so everyone works. It’s crucial that they all get along though no matter where they are
Horses in Multiples in Carriage Driving are called Pairs, 4 in Hand or Team , Tandem (one in front of another) as the most common hitches.
Gets confusing because Draft drivers call a Pair a Team, and then number the additional horses. So you have the Draft Team (two horses beside each other), then a Four, then a 6-Up, and an 8-Up. They may also do a Tandem.
As with other horse things, the left side is the Near Side where you mount him and the right side is the Off Side. So in a Pair, you would call the left horse as the Near Side horse and the right side is the Off Side horse. In a Four, it would be the Near Side (left side) Wheeler or Leader, Off Side (right side) Wheeler or Leader to be speaking precisely.
As already mentioned, where the best trained horse in a Pair goes, depends on a lot of factors. With Draft drivers, the horses tend to stay on their best side, usually not changed around much. Carriage Drivers may or may not follow that idea. At our house, we try to change sides in a Pair each hitching. In the Four, Leaders work on both left and right sides as well, but we do not move Wheelers and Leaders forward or back. We feel horses used only on one side do not develop their sides evenly, are not as athletic in body development. On show day each Team or Pair horse goes into their favorite position, to work to their best ability.
Stopping the vehicle will depend on what kind is behind the horses. Most modern vehicles have brakes, so Wheelers or a Pair may not be doing much stopping of the carriage. Many wear no breeching because vehicle has mechanical brakes. Driver is stopping forward with the brakes, not the horses. Antique vehicles may not have any brakes if light, so horses would use their harness system to brake and halt the vehicles. Harness parts needed would include breeching, collar or neckstrap, pole straps. Horses have to be able to hold the vehicle weight for stopping, take pressure of the harness parts to hold it back on hills.
Leaders help forward pull of weighty vehicles like Mail or Road Coaches. Coaches do have brake levers to help with stopping, but they are not precision things like modern brakes. Horses help, but loaded Coach is a HEAVY vehicle with a full load of passengers or empty, so you need substantial wheel animals and working brakes for halting nicely. Draft horses are not correct on Coaches, though you see them nowadays. Too slow for making time in the past uses of Coaches. Western Stagecoaches are not exactly the same, different mechanical setup, though they do have a brake system with brake lever as well.
Leaders have no way of stopping a vehicle, since there is no pole between them to push back against. A good Driver uses his Leaders while going along, to aid the Wheelers and rest the Wheelers by taking them out of draught (prounounced draft, meaning pull) when possible. Wheelers do more actual work like backing, holding, because they have the pole for leverage to move the vehicle. Leaders and Wheelers both have specialized jobs, not interchangable in the Four. You can't just throw any horse into being a Wheeler as some folks think. Being able to count on your Wheeler/s can be crucial at times. Bold Leaders also have to be fairly fearless, facing whatever you meet on the road. You only have control of them with some thin reins, your voice and whip. Quite amazing that they do things so well for us in real life.
Each pair set of horses, Leaders and Wheelers are an integral part of the system for carriage driving. Used correctly, both pairs of horses should be equally tired at the end of a drive. This requires Driver to be driving ALL the time, which is truly hard work on a miles-long drive or the hard pace of a CDE. All Drivers are not equally talented, their horses are not all cooperative, athletic or skilled, to work with a Driver to reach the highest levels of performance on a Coach or CDE vehicle.
I drive drafts, so maybe I can add a little perspective. Usually, the larger of the horses goes on the right side, but with my two Clydesdale geldings, I like to put the one who is a little smaller on the right because of a nunber of factors. Te biggest factor is that the "smaller" horse is more high strung and needs to be reminded with the whip, and it is easier to reach him (I drive on the right side). My geldings have also been used as the wheelers for a 4 and a 6-up. According to them, the wheelers do all the work and the other horses are just there to look good! The other thing I wanted to add is that in a 6-up, the horses in the "middle" are called swing horses. Swing is the place they usually put the horses with less training, as it is a safe place to have them put on some miles. And the fancy movers go in the front of the hitch, and their job is to look flashy. And yes, we do drive tandem with drafts, and my major goal is to drive my two tandem in a show some time. I have driven them tandem a few times but we are "not ready for prime time." Then there's the major issue--both want to be the wheel horse and neither wants to be in front "all alone."
This was very educational, I was looking through pictures of old fire fighting apparatus and these questions came up. Being a horse rider, I knew right where to go to find drivers and get the best answers to questions
This has piqued my interest in driving. I wonder what my splashy paint mare would look like or if she'd enjoy it...hmm!
on that note I have a coachman friend who drives Shires but more in the open carriage and exhibition circles, not in Draft shows. He commented that many times, when he does show draft, he gets pinned down for not having his leaders' traces .....wait, it will come to me..... I can't remember if he said with or without slack. something about the Draft breed shows, they want them one way and he, as a (clears throat) real coachman, would never do it that way as it is wrong!! So which is it, draft breed shows want the leader traces tight or with slack.
Draft shows want more slack to the leaders generally, the wheelers should be carrying the bulk of the load, some to the swing, and the leaders generally float and step pretty.
If you go here http://www.naclassicseries.com/photos.html
you can see the top sixes in the US the past decade or so. I was there in 2006 and 2011, tons of fun. Percherons are not my breed of choice, but I'd trade my husband for the left lead horse in the Flat Rock hitch, swoon!
BTW, in the draft world, we say left lead horse, or right swing horse, or left wheel horse, as the case may be. Not near or far or near or off side.
There are quite a few terminology differences, traces = tugs and so on. Things I have to remember bouncing back and forth between draft shows and CDEs
How do you do this? Do you ask for more speed out of the leaders and slow down the wheelers? It's probably a basic, silly question to you...
With a skilled Team of 4 in Carriage Driving, you will take up the reins of the Wheelers to gather them up and thus putting slack in their traces. While at the same time letting the reins of the Leaders out, allowing the Leaders to tighten traces and pull. Leaders working together, will be pulling equally on the Leader Bar, which is hung from the crab (hook) on the end of the pole. So the pull of Leaders goes straight back to the vehicle, moving it forward in a straight pull. Wheelers are keeping pace, but not pulling at all to give them a rest.
You don't let Leaders do any pulling on corners, in tight quarters, because they would make the pole swing sideways too much, probably knocking a Wheeler to one side or off his feet. When making a corner with a Four or Six or other Mulitple, the Leaders turn first, hinged at the Leader bar and crab. Then Wheelers are allowed to turn, should be following the same tracks as Leaders, not cutting the corner, then vehicle turns. It is a 3-part action. Will have more parts if you have more horses ahead of the vehicle. Driver finesses the horses and vehicle around the turn, not allowing any parts to "drop in" to the corner. Hands must be smooth and quick, reins gathered and let out fast, so horses are smooth and always forward.
Horses who allow this, are well trained, doesn't happen the first time out! Horses we have, are used to "hunting the bit", so they give to pressure, get more in a frame as you take up rein, stretch out to find the bit, stride out when you give rein. Here we don't want much in rein pressure to hold a horse, that gets very tiring when you go for long drives. So ours are fairly light on the bit, but don't hide chin-on-chest if there is some pressure when you take them up. Trained for give-and-take, talking with the bit and reins, for riding and driving.
Other folks want horses to have more pull on the reins, depends on how you like to drive.
Both of us have been Western riders in the past, so we like a lighter feel on our horses, just touching horse and he touches back in the reins until we ask something of him. Not thrown away, but light. We may be spending several hours on a ride or drive, don't want horses hanging on us to hold them together.
Horse needs to have developed self-carriage at the various gaits, so he can respond properly when the reins ask him to "come together" in a frame or for turns.
When we do CDE, we want all of the Four to be having the same respiration, temps at Vet check, showing they ALL worked equally hard. We SURE don't want to kill off the Wheelers by making them do all the work, Leaders never break a sweat! Leaders are used here, not just ornamental in our Four or the Tandem.