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road cart vs meadowbrook

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  • road cart vs meadowbrook

    I swear I am NOT actively shopping for a cart. I just happen to admire pretty wooden carts with big wheels and curvy fenders and for some reason there seems to be an abundance of them in my area suddenly for too good to be true prices.... tempting me!

    It seems I've stumbled across what might be a road cart (in excellent condition, for an absurd price with a quality harness in great condition). Seller says its not a meadowbrook but forgot what it is.

    It looks identical to the road cart here, except the one I'm being offered has swirly fenders too:

    What is the functional difference between a road cart and meadowbrook? I know some road carts can really differ in appearance from meadowbrooks, but some are really similar looking.

    Thank you, all, so very very much.
    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

  • #2
    Well, many years ago we had the pleasure of having Teddy Williams, who had been the coach driver/trainer for the Brady family who owned Hamilton Farms (USET), give color commentary on the turnouts during cones at the earlier Gladstone Driving Event. He was calling anything 2-wheeled that was NOT a Park Gate Gig, a Roadcart

    Hence a meadowbrook, IS a roadcart, but of a specific design

    Now, however, people call rear entry/flip seat carts Meadowbrooks and front or rear entry using an additional metal step or axle step a road cart. Another collective difference is that Meadowbrook springs are usually parallel to the shafts - one on each side, while road carts may have a single spring perpindicular to the shafts, above the axle.

    Many people call Meadowbrook type carts "death traps" because you sit IN the cart, surrounded by the shafts. The theory is that you cannot get OUT of them fast if there is need.

    Conversely they like the roadcart design that you have to swing between the wheel and seat to get in or step up in front of the wheel to get in.

    Admitting that I have my own prejudice here, but. . . I find the road cart design just as unsafe for easy egress as the meadowbrook design
    In either case you are bailing out and at risk. Better to not have to bail in the first place

    Most of the road cart designs sit you a tad higher than the meadowbrook types. But an interesting thing we have noted in the recent years is that the meadowbrook carts are actually lighter and balance better (lighter weight in the shafts) than many of the roadcart designs. This is said from helping haul around dozens of the carts of both designs

    To this point, Our BO has a Spinner and a Mill Run Roadcart while we have a Carriage Machine Shop "marathon cart/meadowbrook type" Hers are large pony and ours is large horse (not draft) Everyone who moves them around in the storage area has commented on how much lighter and easier to move our cart is than hers - and many of the people moving the carts are NOT carriage people. They expect - from the size - that ours would be the heavier

    Inherently, due to 2-wheels, there is some instability in both cart types compared to 4-wheels with a larger base of support. But 2-wheel carts track behind a horse more closely and you cant jack-knife them.

    So if you are not driving "crazy" its not all that easy to tip the carts. I think the meadowbrook types are a bit more stable, having a lower center of gravity than roadcarts. But if you find a true old meadowbrook or a 20year old flexi-shaft, the nature of the springing makes them less secure cross-country. That design was made to improve the ride on ring and road, but increases the bounce when you bump along XC

    The Heyday of the Road cart - historically - was in the 1880's when American manufacturers tried a lot of variations with designs and spring to improve the ride. We helped with a cart display at the USET where we brought in 6 different old carts. Each was called a Roadcart but all were different in some design feature or spring type or placement


    • Original Poster

      What an informative and helpful post, thank you!

      Interesting about the flexishafts, I was discussing the road cart I found with a friend and she mentioned the same thing, good for riding on the road but thats about it. She also wondered aloud what the horse might feel.

      I'm not interested in it for trail use, though will road carts handle in the sand at all?

      Our trotting lanes are all sandy down here. I'm not in an area that is conducive to going out on the real paved roads, its a farmy area with long straight streets in the middle of a dense suburb so people race like nuts on the roads, not safe at all. I can venture out on the flat lanes around farmland fields, but its sand.

      Neat how they differ. I have a lot to learn. THANK YOU!!!
      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


      • #4
        'I' like the front entry road carts, simply for the ease of getting in the suckers. I dont like climbing over seats or shafts, and i hate climbing in from the rear. I also dont like the meadowbrooks because i feel so set down into the wheels/fenders, maybe claustrophobic? Might be better if you had a wedge seat. I grew up with a friend who's mom bred morgans and all she had was pretty custom painted meadowbrooks. I'm glad i've gotten into driving later in life because i HATED driving in her carts and told myself as a teen i would never drive my own horses, at the time i thought that and jog cart types were the only kind of carts out there...

        I too have noticed that an actual meadowbrook can be lighter than the road carts though and i have not figured out the how or why of it. I had a pretty burgundy road cart of sorts, it had a high back design and more enclosed around the body of it i guess, hard to describe it think i've put pics of it on here last year, but it weighed 400lbs... It balanced nice and was pretty enough (though burgundy and i hate burgundy), but blah! I was happy to be rid of it. Though it rode like a dream.

        I would like to find a front entry road cart for cheap, but right now i'm in IL and all i've seen is horse size or meadowbrooks. I'll be in Aiken in March, maybe i'll find something then. I really like the ride on my Kuhnle marathon carriage though, i kinda just want the cart for welsh shows... and maybe the Aiken pleasure show next year... But both i "can" use the Kuhnle, it would just be tacky... And this assumes i have the darn thing painted before then, cause if i put it back together partially sanded as it is right now, well that's not even fit to be in public, lol.

        For sand... My burgundy road cart had narrow flat rubber, it dug in. The Bennington "road cart" i had had wider wheels but fat round rubber and did not dig in nearly as bad, but still did. My mini's 1" wide flat rubber cart dug in terribly that i had to get out and push if the sand was deep in an area... My Kuhnle has 2" flat rubber and doesnt seem to dig in as much as any of the others. And of course, the two pneumatic wheel mini carts i had were the easiest of them all on sand. But i dont know if you have the sand i had in GA where it would get real deep, or just a nice layer over clay that was lovely and easy. So i guess it would depend on the bulk of your sandy driving, is it deep, or not... If you only cut in an inch, you can work your horse up to that easy enough, if it cuts in deeper consistently, your boy is gonna get super fit or super tired!
        Your Horse's Home On The Road!


        • Original Poster

          See now, I covet a burgundy road cart! (and your Bennington made me droooooool!). I saw a lovely antique one recently but its small pony sized... I liked it well enough though that the thought of buying an equine just to fit it crossed my mind!

          Amazing how much driving stuff there is out there if you start looking around, seems like everyone has a cart or a carriage tucked away in their old barn.

          Most of my sand is not terrible, dusting to a few inches over hardpack marl, every once in a while you get a pit of sugar sand but its only for a few paces. Turf is sandy soil too, so its not as easy as regular turf, but doesn't get slippery either.

          I'd love to pick everyone's brains about weight though......

          The road cart I've been offered is solid oak and very sturdily made. Its probably rather heavy. I'm going to go see it after the holiday (I like it a lot, it has a bunch of features I really like including front entry). I plan to bring two bathroom scales so I can weigh it.

          Weight is a consideration. I have a horse with a compromised back. Its the reason I got a 4wheeler in the first place.... which I LOVE, btw. Just a road cart is so attractive and seems like a nice change of pace, and possibly easier on my horse when my schedule only allows for sporadic schooling and he can't maintain fitness. (ok, I'm totally talking myself into a purchase here, because I have NO need for this thing )

          So my question is.... the goal is to float the shafts correct? in theory, aside from going down hill, my horse shouldn't have weight on his back, right? Sooooo, even a robustly built oak road cart should be ok? given that the shafts truly float that is.

          We drove in a pennsbury jog cart for our first 8 months, that was absolutely weight on his back and with his custom saddle he was completely fine with that, but the aluminum cart weighed all of 125# or so. A large oak road cart would be at least 300# I would imagine. Heavy, but lighter than my 4 wheeler.

          What is the dynamic of weight in a two wheeler where the shafts are expected to be floating?
          Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


          • #6
            A lot of carts like these (meadowbrook/road/easy-entry) don't have a simple balance system...pity.

            Anyway, you'll be dealing with figuring out if you'll want it balanced for one or two people. Most meadowbrooks seem to be great for 2 people and sit heavy for a single. You can mount weights under the floor using a wingnut for easy on & off. A good meadowbrook will float with very minimal weight on your horse's back.

            A nice and light 4-wheeler is great and the brakes can really take a load off your horse's back when going downhill. My Bennington marathon weighs very little (which reminds me, I need to weigh it).

            I have a nice Amish-built meadowbrook from School Lane Carriage Shop in Gap, PA. It rides great, is comfortable and doesn't weigh that much.

            Good luck!
            "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


            • Original Poster

              Counterweights, what a brilliant idea, thank you! For all of your help, thank you.

              I do have a nice light 4wheeler, which I adore. Brakes are great for going down hill too..... the few (very few) hills we encounter here in the flatlands.

              Only reason I'm interested in a road cart is for aesthetics, honestly I'm just in love with the way they look and I'm getting deals wafted under my nose that I'm having a hard time turning away from. I have no practical need, its just another "toy". I just want to have some sense in making this decision. It might be utterly ridiculous of me to consider a 2 wheeler for my horse to begin with.

              Only place it would be used would be in the ring (which I think would be lighter 'duty' on my horse than the 4 wheeler?) or on flat sandy lane roads. My 4 wheeler is perfectly suited for trails, no need to run the risks that a 2 wheeler brings on uneven ground or twisty trails. My close friend has enough broken bones to have me think twice.

              (In fact, my friend's first question on the road cart was 'does it have flush hubs?' I said, I'm not going whipping around trails in the durn thing, I don't need flush hubs, I have no intention of rubbing trees! )

              2 wheeler is better for tandem though, no? (can't decide whether I want to talk myself into or out of this )

              Thanks really to everyone for taking your time to offer advice. I know I'm just this fountain of questions lately and I hope I'm not trying anyone's nerves. I'm cooped up working and not driving, so I'm spending my days inside daydreaming in between projects very dangerous thing for me.
              Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


              • #8
                Buck, i sold my bennington... I kinda cried when it left... But i couldnt fit both it and the Kuhnle marathon carriage i bought in the truck... So... There kinda lies my problem in getting a pretty road cart while we keep moving. I cant make two trips when we move, so it's all gotta fit in my Tundra or my 3 stall slant trailer with ponies... Though i'm looking at the back rack for my trailer, but i dont want to invest in a good hanger that swings open on this trailer cause i hate it and want to sell it next year (and last year, and the year before, so you can see how long i'm still stuck with the stupid thing...)... But I'm kinda looking at the Fautras 2h with the front flat bed for the carriage then put the cart in the truck bed, that one also helps me keep weight down for my truck with some features i like... OR... I'm looking into a custom trailer which will likely be too heavy for my little truck and would then require two trips when we move because the big truck pulls the big camper... Thus when i get to buy a pretty road cart, well i dont know. I wish i could lease one! But i'm thinking if i wait till i get to Aiken, i can sell it come Aug next year when we have to move again.

                But, enabling i'm good at... So... Go look at it, it may sway you one way or the other when you get there. I'm not sure i'll like a regular wood cart after my bennington. It was so heavy duty. I almost think i might go for a sprint cart and fancy it up when it comes to that or a pacific... or another bennington... Oh to win the lottery!

                For the welsh shows i want an ebony stained, spindle back, front entry road cart with black seats and brass trim... That one is my dream little show cart...
                Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                • #9
                  I'm down to 3 vehicles now...sold the big surrey and my really heavy marathon vehicle and an even heavier pairs Kuhnle. They were nice vehicles (especially the surrey & the Kuhnle), just heavier than my horse was happy with.

                  I love my Bennington marathon, and it's light and easy to deal with. Also have a Bennington very fancy beautiful gig...this one is for showing or picnic drives.

                  The vehicle I use the most is my meadowbrook. It's got flush hubs and cow-catchers...these are mounted on the shafts and if you're ever driving around trees, these will prevent a tree from going between the shafts and the wheels...no amazing dangerous stops, the trees are pushed outside of the wheels. I also had the builder put horizontal slats below the fenders (keeping things from contacting the wheels).

                  I've slowly learned, "Go Light" and then, "Go Lighter" with driving stuff. Your horse will be happier and when it comes time to load it on the truck or trailer you won't be dying trying to move it.
                  "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"