Hi, I've been "driving" for about a year now. I'm mostly self-taught, but have had lessons here and there. There's a great need for instructors in the area. As I've been learning, I've brought up my Gypsy pony too. Usually this doesn't work out very well for horse and driver, but Extra is a very forgiving and a gentleman of a pony. We're at the level where a good fitting cart is needed. I've been driving him on a Cob sized cart, but the shafts are too long and it's not ideal. I'd like a little advice on what type/wood stain/color cart to get. I'm interested in something I can use for combined driving (dressage and cones) but is still suitable for pleasure classes. Extra is 13 hh, and mostly black. My harness is a breastplate style. I really like the looks of the spindle back road carts. Would this be appropriate? I'm also concerned about what colors would work best with him to give a good turnout. Thanks
For CDE, you probably should make a of list the "modern" things you want to compete well, which the antique designs won't have. First would be flush hubs, or almost flush, so there is not much sticking out of the wheel. Measurements for cones are wheel width, not widest width. So hubs (antique designs) stick out further, almost 4", and can snag a cone to knock off the ball on a tight turn.
Not sure where you are located. Weather might make a difference, but maybe not, on wheel rubber.
For a cart, I like the square rubber on the wheels. The pointed rubber cuts into the ground more, so can be a harder pull on sand, mud or soft going. Cart tires are narrow anyway, so cutting in is a problem, but for us, the square rubber was a bit more fun to use.
You need to have your vehicle metals match the harness metal, bit color is neutral, not counted in the matching. You might also want to paint the metal, should you find a nice cart, but doesn't match your harness metal. We have painted almost all our brass on the vehicles, so we don't have to polish it, and because our harness all is silver colored metal. I think three vehicles, antiques, still have brass hubcaps, with names visible for observers to read. No brass for us on any CDE stuff.
Using a wedge seat on your cart, can improve your posture while seated. Wedges come in any height you desire, you can even make your own. You can position the wedge to one side or center it, for driving. We added straps around the wedge and bench seat, so it was a solid seat for driving. Your feet need a solid anchor to help hold you in position over various surfaces, torn up pasture, gravel road. So if short legged or wedge raises you too much, a foot rail or rubber topped, wood box, is helpful to keep your feet positioned.
If you are Midwest, there are a lot of Amish who build carts to your design. Spindle backs are pretty easy to make. I want my seat up high enough to see ahead of the animal, not looking at his rump or hocks! Bigger wheels tend to roll easier, especially on rougher ground. Most Driving dressage arenas are NOT the super groomed things that ridden dressage uses, so the vehicle needs to be able to manage that. Foot basket design can get in the way of a big moving pony, so you have to figure shaft length to keep him from hitting on his extended gaits. This, even though you don't want him way out ahead of you.
With a black pony, he can go with almost anything in colors, all shades of green, darker blues, even shiny black, though the dark colors may need a hit of color in your clothing, so you are not drab or run together in darkness from the side of the arena. Some nice pinstriping color can also lighten up a darker vehicle. With the painted vehicles, you tend to be a bit more formal, than the natural colored (country) vehicles are in clothing.
Looking at the Mischka Calendars could help your eyes in seeing what other folks do for vehicles, clothing to go with the equine of choice. Click on Detailed Images at the lower part of screen, which brings up the photos for this years Driving Calendar. Scrolling down, you see a pinto Mini and driver, a dressy lady in a tall cart with a chestnut horse, and the roan pony with child driver, appropriately dressed adult with child, as good examples of show type turnout that would also work well in a CDE setting.
A Road Cart can be fine for the lower levels, doing Dressage, Cones. You will be going at slower speeds in those lower levels, so you can probably manage safely with it on Marathon, if you have nothing else to drive.
However CDE has changed a lot over the years, so what was usable, could let you win, in vehicle design, isn't the best choice anymore. Cones is now a real part of the scoring, you need to put in a bit of speed with your accuracy, so the points from all three sections will come up equally for you. Where you compete can make a difference, some grounds are just rougher turf than other places, so a cart can be a bit harder to ride on that ground. A cart should be stable, with their wider axles than 4-wheelers have. However various carts can have individual issues, like being "too springy" or too tall, that only appear in hard practice or at a competition.
There are so many different types of carriages and turnouts that you can do. You can google some, you just need to make sure if you go with a country type vehicle (meadowbrook, road cart etc) you also go with the same type of clothing.
I can't seem to find any with the painted eagle right now, but it was also dark blue in colour with yellow wheels. I did not need a groom for it as it was just one seat and I could go alone. I pretty much kept it the same with my turn out. Black ponies are easy to dress up
We also do CDE's and my mother in law had a phaeton custom built from an Amish company in our area. They built it off of a picture of a Kuhnle horse vehicle (and they took a few measurements of one down the road from them) and they just sized it down. They did an amazing job! We added breaks (which we love) and kept the brass. We also added a wedge seat which is really nice. It really keeps you in place compared to the bench seat of the Eagle. I love the look of brass and we do not mind cleaning it. I much prefer it over chrome, but that's just personal preferance. Our harness is also all done in brass. Its a lot of work but looks great once its cleaned
I do like driving the meadowbrook as I find it pretty easy to drive. It was the first vehicle that I ever drove and I loved it. But I much prefer driving a 4 wheeled vehicle now...I feel more comfortable and now I find it easier to drive/steer. I have seen a few road carts/gigs roll over on a cones course (some of it due to some hills and some not so careful driving). So if you plan on doing some CDE's keep that in mind.
The calendars are a great source of nice turnouts There are a lot of great books out there as well and check out the ADS (American Driving Society) website as it also has some great info on their site.
Last edited by DiamondJubilee; Apr. 23, 2013 at 10:08 PM.
I also meant to say that our meadowbrook was rolled over...twice. Once while at a pleasure show it hit a root and flipped over, and the other time was driver error when he said go left, no right, no left and it turned over. We have the whole thing in several pictures...It was also one of the reasons that the natural carrige was painted.
For a while it seemed that advanced drivers were required to drive 4-wheel in dressage and cones
but that has changed and MANY of them have gone back to the 2- wheel
the advantages of the 2-wheel is first - its considerably cheaper to buy
it is lighter in over-all weight
it tracks behind the horse
yes you can flip a 2-wheel but usually if you are going to fast or turning too tight
and the same can then be said of 4-wheel vehicles
Thank you all so much for your responses. I'm really love the looks of everything suggested so far. My only concern with a four wheeled vehicle is the weight. Extra is a little smaller and I was wondering if they would be too heavy? Maybe I'm just babying him too much though. He's such a sweetie I feel guilty when I work him hard.
Here are a few more pics of him. The shafts on the cart he's pulling are too long, but it works for now while he's getting used to pulling a vehicle. I plan to get the new cart in the next month or so.
I agree with Christa P. I have had to do this with some of our ponies the pair are ony 13h but the shafts were cob sized. I put the traces out pretty much as far as they could go so when they turned, the shafts would not poke them in the neck.
The pictures of my guys are 13h for the bay welsh and 13.2h for the black cob. For my guys it really depended on the animal as how much they could comfortably pull. The 13h welsh pulled a 400lb marathon carriage (way too heavy for a single pony IMO, but that is what the company told us. They said it was ok for a single 13h pony) plus 2 adults and we did full CDE's (prelim) with him. He pulled more than his body weight and we were quite competitive with him. We did feel bad for him as I'm sure he would keep going until he fell over....So we were either going to sell him (which we could not do) or buy a brother for him to help him out. We now drive them as a pair and the 400lb carriage plus us is easy peasy for them
Now the cob who is taller and had over 200lb on the welsh guy, did not like that idea at all. He did not like to work any harder than he had to. He pulled the 400lb phaeton plus 2 passengers on hard ground. Anything else was too hard for him and he would just want to walk. This is why I liked the Eagle for him as it was very light, around 200lb and I did not have to take a passenger. Again, I just like the look and drive of a 4 wheeled vehicle.
Of course a 2 wheeled cart would be much lighter. There is nothing wrong with a road cart or a meadowbrook. They are super light and I'm sure your guy will have no problem with that. If you look at a 4 wheeled vehicle, just check out the weight and try to keep it as light as you can. I would suggest around 200lbs. We also just bought a single light 4 wheeled marathon carriage that is meant for small ponies and it weighs 200lbs. Our guys pull it with no problem and I love it