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Two wheels vs four for newbies.Here's why...

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  • Two wheels vs four for newbies.Here's why...

    I had a jack-knifing incident yesterday while driving my pair that could have resulted in a wreck. I thought I’d share it as an object lesson in why we say beginner drivers should be in a two-wheel cart, not a four-wheel carriage. A two-wheel cart will follow the horse and while you might still get yourself into a precarious situation, at least you and the horse will still be headed in the same direction!

    First I should say that I’ve purposely put my horses in numerous situations where the carriage was jack-knifed in order to teach them to remain calm while I get us extricated from the situation. That training paid off yesterday when they balked while heading down into a steep drainage ditch. The horses have crossed this ditch a number of times without incident and I’ve learned that the best approach to it is straight-on, down one side, across the bottom and up the other side. Yesterday, though, there was an unusual amount of standing water in it due to huge rains last week. The sun was shining and glinting brightly off the water and it must have looked very different to the boys because they surprised me by slamming on the brakes halfway down the side and turning sharply left. In a split-second we were firmly jack-knifed with the horses headed north while the carriage was still facing east and dangerously close to tipping over into the ditch. I had just told my navigator to get down and go up to their heads when I got them straightened out and started forward again. Then, just as abruptly, they went to the right and jack-knifed us in the opposite direction. Horses headed south, carriage headed east and humans about to get dumped into some cold, mucky swamp water. I spoke to the boys, FIRMLY, used the whip to straighten them out and send them forward and they responded by inching on down the side of the ditch. We were still in a very precarious, tippy position and any craziness from the horses could have been disastrous. I was prepared for them to jump the water and then do who knows what on the opposite side. I told my nav to hang on tight and on we went. But as soon as their feet hit the water they both said “oh, it’s just water” and walked calmly through and up the other side with no muss, no fuss.

    I was pretty shaken by all of this. I’ve been in some hairy situations but that was the closest I’ve come to tipping the carriage over. In retrospect, I don’t think we humans would have gotten hurt but the horses stood to get badly injured and certainly could have been ruined for ever being driven safely again.

    We went on towards home, talking quietly and telling each other to breathe. But I knew something my navigator either didn’t know or had forgotten. I knew there was a second drainage ditch ahead of us. I just let my nav chatter on about a dog show she’d been to yesterday so she’d stay relaxed. I knew I could avoid the second ditch by turning south and going home that way but noooooo, I decided that would be wimpy and we needed to face down this demon. So on we went. We came to the ditch. I told my friend to hang on because we might have trouble again. And, yes, they did balk again when they headed down into the second ditch! But they remained straight and didn’t jack-knife the carriage and I was able to get them to go on through much easier the second time.

    So, all’s well that ends well and I look at it now as a good training session. But those of you who are new to driving or contemplating taking up driving, PLEASE start out with a two-wheel cart. I drove a cart and a single pony for four years and put in a lot of hours and miles and had a lot of professional training before I went to four wheels and a pair of ponies. And I’m still finding out that anything can and will happen. And I might just ride today instead of drive...

  • #2
    humans about to get dumped into some cold, mucky swamp water
    Darn it. You're no fun at all. I was looking forward to those photos

    Seriously some salient experience that hopefully others will learn from.

    p.s. Here's my wife showing her assets and after a little difference of opinion with her horse. (She'll kill me if she knew I'd posted that one on the internet!)

    Comment


    • #3
      ha ha thomas you naughty man.. .......gonna tell sue ha ha

      nice bit of muddy jods how did she do that did she slip in the dirt or fall as she seems as if
      shes laughing so must have been a bit of a funny whatever

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by RidesAHaflinger View Post
        I had a jack-knifing incident yesterday while driving my pair that could have resulted in a wreck. I thought I’d share it as an object lesson in why we say beginner drivers should be in a two-wheel cart, not a four-wheel carriage. A two-wheel cart will follow the horse and while you might still get yourself into a precarious situation, at least you and the horse will still be headed in the same direction!

        First I should say that I’ve purposely put my horses in numerous situations where the carriage was jack-knifed in order to teach them to remain calm while I get us extricated from the situation. That training paid off yesterday when they balked while heading down into a steep drainage ditch. The horses have crossed this ditch a number of times without incident and I’ve learned that the best approach to it is straight-on, down one side, across the bottom and up the other side. Yesterday, though, there was an unusual amount of standing water in it due to huge rains last week. The sun was shining and glinting brightly off the water and it must have looked very different to the boys because they surprised me by slamming on the brakes halfway down the side and turning sharply left. In a split-second we were firmly jack-knifed with the horses headed north while the carriage was still facing east and dangerously close to tipping over into the ditch. I had just told my navigator to get down and go up to their heads when I got them straightened out and started forward again. Then, just as abruptly, they went to the right and jack-knifed us in the opposite direction. Horses headed south, carriage headed east and humans about to get dumped into some cold, mucky swamp water. I spoke to the boys, FIRMLY, used the whip to straighten them out and send them forward and they responded by inching on down the side of the ditch. We were still in a very precarious, tippy position and any craziness from the horses could have been disastrous. I was prepared for them to jump the water and then do who knows what on the opposite side. I told my nav to hang on tight and on we went. But as soon as their feet hit the water they both said “oh, it’s just water” and walked calmly through and up the other side with no muss, no fuss.

        I was pretty shaken by all of this. I’ve been in some hairy situations but that was the closest I’ve come to tipping the carriage over. In retrospect, I don’t think we humans would have gotten hurt but the horses stood to get badly injured and certainly could have been ruined for ever being driven safely again.

        We went on towards home, talking quietly and telling each other to breathe. But I knew something my navigator either didn’t know or had forgotten. I knew there was a second drainage ditch ahead of us. I just let my nav chatter on about a dog show she’d been to yesterday so she’d stay relaxed. I knew I could avoid the second ditch by turning south and going home that way but noooooo, I decided that would be wimpy and we needed to face down this demon. So on we went. We came to the ditch. I told my friend to hang on because we might have trouble again. And, yes, they did balk again when they headed down into the second ditch! But they remained straight and didn’t jack-knife the carriage and I was able to get them to go on through much easier the second time.

        So, all’s well that ends well and I look at it now as a good training session. But those of you who are new to driving or contemplating taking up driving, PLEASE start out with a two-wheel cart. I drove a cart and a single pony for four years and put in a lot of hours and miles and had a lot of professional training before I went to four wheels and a pair of ponies. And I’m still finding out that anything can and will happen. And I might just ride today instead of drive...

        cor that was a bit lucky--------- still you all ok and thats the main thing

        Comment


        • #5
          Oh my! I am glad you are doing okay and nothing happened!

          But I have to tell you all - I had ANOTHER person trying to sell me a 4 wheel vehicle AGAIN yesterday. I let her talk til she was blue in the face, kept the wallet firmly IN the purse, and then walked away okay.

          I'm definitely buying a 2-wheeler, but it's interesting to see some of the dealers out there try to get me in to a 4-wheeler....Gee, I wonder which one has a bigger commission? I hate to say this because I'm a real estate agent - ie: sales - and I would never ever steer someone in a direction I thought was dangerous because of the commission I'd make. Something in me actually wonders if these people think it really is safer in a 4-wheel????

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by joharavhf View Post
            Something in me actually wonders if these people think it really is safer in a 4-wheel????
            Sadly I think you're most likely right in that summary. They clearly are not engineers and don't understand some basic principles of momentum and movement though and I seriously wonder how the heck they can possibly be driving anything vaguely challenging and indeed their experience has to be limited.

            I had someone telling me exactly the same on the phone which is going to be "interesting"

            (They're bringing a horse to me for a residential instructional week's holiday)

            Comment


            • #7
              Anyone who has had the pleasure of driving a four wheeler ATV on the side of a hill can have the thrill of their life as it feels as if it going to tip over and kill you. haha I am sure a four wheeled cart feels the same way. Infinitely less maneuverable.
              “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
              ? Rumi






              Comment


              • #8
                Karen,

                So glad all ended well and you had a good schooling session instead of a wreck! Although we didn't spend as much time as you with the 2-wheeled cart, our trainer (Bill Long) wouldn't hear of us starting in anything else. Of course we were not only green drivers but both Joe and I started with green equines, and the way Phoenix loves to spin it would've been disastrous! We've had a few situations with the 4-wheeled carriages where we've been jackknifed but fortunately both Phoenix and Maggie will listen when they get in that position and we've always gotten things put to right with no mishaps.

                We both very thankful that Bill was adamant about starting with 2 wheels. We all learned a lot and got some good experience before going to 4. Thanks for sharing an excellent example of 'why'.
                Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

                PnP Distributors - KUTZMANN Carriages
                Ashemont2@gmail.com

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks, Pat. We pulled through the experience OK and I added another notch to my belt and maybe another gray hair or two.

                  Isn't driving a pair just a heck of an experience?? There's such a big difference in having two brains out there in front of you instead of one. It seems to work for the driver in most situations because usually one horse will object to something while the other horse doesn't even notice it and so they both carry on. In this case, though, we were going down that ditch head-on and both horses mutually decided it was something they didn't want to do. Man, they were just all over the map there for awhile! Both of my horses are quite young but fortunately Major, the older one, has good reasoning ability and I do count on him to get us out of the really dicey situations which he did in this case. On the other hand, he also got us INTO the situation. And so it goes...

                  Karen

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just wait

                    Just wait 'til you try it with a four. I have an interesting little feature at my place called "in The Groove." Two weeks ago the Groove was full of 12 to 18" water and both Triumph and Onyx decided it was not for them. Amazing how fast they can jump up the bank. It took three attempts to get them "in The Groove" and all three required good weight transfer by the navigators to keep us right side up. One attempt also required putting a 'gator on the ground and and another involved getting seriously hung up in some saplings as I tried to find a way around to start again. Had to do some backing up there.

                    It all adds to the training and it's great fun 'til somebody gets hurt. The boys thought driving in the Steeplechase Parade on Sunday was pretty ho hum after the adventure in The Groove. Onyx pranced and danced the whole 1.5 miles much to the delight of the crowds. That little fellow must have been photographed a thousand times.

                    Dick

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I had my Gelderlander out yesterday hitched to a meadowbrook...(yeah, I know, death in a bucket). I hadn't hitched him to a 2-wheeler in 6 months...I'll admit it, I love the comfort of a 4-wheeler. What a simpler way to drive, no matter what, I wasn't worrying about jack-knifing, playing "snap-the-whip" or driving by some new and very potentially scary construction and flapping things near the barn.

                      4-wheelers are more comfy...2-wheelers are simpler and therefore have less to go wrong or become quickly "interesting".

                      Glad your story didn't result in "film at 11:00" on the news.
                      "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm so glad you're all ok and the wreck was averted.

                        Don't worry about me! My first cart will most definitely be a 2-wheeler!

                        I have also been on the side of a hill on my Kawasaki 4-wheeler and had that unforgettable feeling of *almost* flipping. Gee, on my John Deere too. Our terrain is hilly all over. The only level spot has the house on it.
                        "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Four of the little beasties...hmmmm

                          Dick- I don't foresee a four-in-hand in my future but I will happily ride along with you and your team one of these days. I am assuming that "Nerves of Steel" Giles is there, egging you on during some of your
                          'moments of truth'! Has he ever told you the story of how I split Major and Mickey right around a palm tree in his dressage arena the first time I drove my new marathon carriage? HA! better let ME tell you the story, so the truth gets out.

                          Trak- I agree with you 100% about preferring the four-wheeler once you have some experience and mileage. Of course it's a necessity with me driving a pair but it's my vehicle of choice with a single now too.

                          Wendy- sounds like with your terrain, you will need to learn how to "do" hills with Cookie!

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