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Vehicles - Lines of Draft and Pull Points

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  • Vehicles - Lines of Draft and Pull Points

    If anyone needs ANY extra clarification on my question, please ask. I'm having trouble wording this.

    I'm not sure if there's a specific word for the point the horses pull from/where singletree is attached so bare with me. Please also keep in mind my questions/your answers can refer to 2 wheel, 4wheel, or sled style vehicles.

    So, I've noticed on any kind of cart/wagon/sled the swingletree or point they pull from is nearly always at the bottom of the vehicle (excluding tires if there are any). If the point they pull from were to be placed higher on a vehicle, would that change how it pulls? Make it harder/easier to pull? possibly tip it forward if you pulled it from too high? What would the pros/cons be of having a vehicle with a higher/lower pull point placement? Have you ever had a vehicle modified to change this point? How does this line of draft affect the usage of a collar and hames or a breastcollar style harness?

    Lots of odd questions I know, just have way too much time to think about these things and wonder haha. If you know the answer to any of them please let me know, but I am definitely interested on the pulling point ones! Also note, these are just questions to see how different style vehicles work and why they're made the way they are. I know a lot of people enjoy jumping on the bandwagon of random conclusions. Thanks ya'll!

  • #2
    I think this was covered in Maurice Tillman's Draft Horse Primer --I recall pictures of different heights of single trees and lots of numbers and x things like from algebra class that helped the person who owned the draft horse figure out the best length for tugs and I think height of single tree. There was something about the lower the single tree, the greater the force the horse could produce against the collar -- so a big log should have longer tugs than a small log . , , but I kind of skipped that chapter because of the math. Looked a lot like physics to me and I didn't do so well in that class --would have failed if some handsome fellow named Jim who sat beside me hadn't let me copy from his paper for tests. I would go to the library and see if they can get that book on inter library loan --or you can still buy it. It's got some driving information in it, but mostly about owning, training, and using draft horses.

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    • #3
      the horse is the most efficient and comfortable pulling at a 90 degree angle from the shoulder, this picture illustrates it. https://smallfarmersjournal.com/wp-c...e-of-draft.jpg
      that said like most things in life it is a compromise, when pulling a cart normally the amount of pressure you are putting on the horses shoulder is insignificant so you almost throw this rule out the window, but when plowing you will see that the rule is followed pretty strictly. the other important thing to remember is that the trace be in a straight line for most harness, this prevents putting downward pressure on the horses back when draft is applied

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      • #4
        btw Draft Horse Primer is a great book and I recommend everyone have a copy

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        • #5
          You have great angle differences in using a breastcollar or a full neck collar with hames. Draft horses use full collars most times because they have more surface to "push" against, moving big or heavy loads, than a breastcollar gives them. Driving horses are actually pushing into harness to go forward, not technically 'pulling' their loads. Drafts are often sold with their well fitting collar, so new owner doesn't have to figure what will work well on that horse. Hames fitted on full collars need their trace setting to be placed over shoulder correctly, to get the best angle of draft, to use the horse power most efficiently moving the load. Collar does not rock with traces properly placed.

          Michigan State University did many studies years ago to learn those best effective angles, for plowing, dragging logs, pulling farm wagons. Sometimes lengthening traces would get you the needed angles. I am sure the Equine Department there would share the information with you. It may be online too, if you do a search.

          Breastcollars should not have such acute trace angles down to their singletrees. You want it down slightly, not straight back or uphill, that is incorrect, even on very light carts. Horse has less surface than full neck collar to push against. We moved a singletree on our Road Cart to below the crossbar, to get that slight downhill angle. It was recommended by two very well known horsemen at a clinic. I felt pretty good that this was their only critism of my turnout! They had plenty to say to other folks!! Whew!

          There are other factors that can come into play, width of breastcollars, straight or V cut, padded or single thickness, style of shoulder straps. English or UK carts often have chains from singletree to axles, aiding horse to "pull low" yet not affect his line of draft on traces. This is called axle draft. Many of those 2 wheel carts are quite heavily built, along with seating for 4 people. They may have adjustable seating for balance or maybe not.

          Size of the equine affects how you set them up to work. So many modern Draft Horses are HUGE! Not going to succeed well as farm workers on such long legs. An inefficient design for that job. Showy in hitch classes though, which is a big market for young horses. My Grampa seldom owned anything much over 16h. Said they ate more than the work you got out of them. Had to get more hay and grain to work well, than smaller horses he could grain lightly and graze on pasture free. Then there was the extra work heaving harness way up on them daily, unharnessing. He bought the taller ones for resale after he got them going well. They sold easily then and made him a profit.

          One thing to mention, was a past fad for light marathon vehicles a while back. Trying to reduce the load for better recoveries. We saw MANY bad combinations, horses hooked to pony carriages, hooked too close to vehicle with short shafts or poles, kicking the vehicle when extended or carriages hitting horse hind legs, traces hooked below hock level, lifting front wheels almost every stride!! Force of large horse breaking welds, front ends while going forward. Folks totally ignoring all the older horse, angle, weight of vehicle, rules of hitching. We seem to have gotten over that now, but always is someone who thinks to "reinvent the wheel" to gain competition advantages.

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