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Cart questions

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  • Cart questions

    I've been wanting to get into driving for a long time. I may be striking a deal to buy a cart plus driving lessons for me and my horse (who grounddrives and drags things, but has never been broke to cart).

    The carts I'm looking at:


    or this one:


    Not sure which one would look better with my girl:



    How much should I expect to pay for one of these carts?

    Is this an appropriate cart if I wanted to start doing driving dressage?

    Is this an appropriate cart if I wanted to go down dirt roads?

    Pros and cons of this cart?

    Is there a more suitable cart option for me?

  • #2
    Either cart could work for doing driven dressage. Many people like the lightness of the 2 wheel to allow the horse to move free-er than a heavier 4-wheel for dressage

    Either cart would be suitable for just down the road driving

    IF you have plans on driving CDE, you will be wanting a different vehicle in the future

    IMO the natural wood cart will likely be priced a bit lower than the painted one.
    Price could be anywhere between $750 (not too likely) and mid $1000s - like $1500 or so. Could go as high as $2000. If they are priced higher - you can get new for a similar or better price

    What you need to measure is the height on your horse from the ground to where the tug hangs on the saddle

    Then on the cart - check if the shaft is reasonable level at that height
    if it tips up or more importantly, down
    at that height - then it wont fit your horse

    here is a link to a chart for cart measurements - average measurements for horse size



    • #3
      I can't speak to driven dressage. But either cart would be fine for driving down the road.

      The second cart looks like it needs re-finishing and might be in rougher shape. However, I like the fact that it's front entry.

      However, make certain the carts are sound. You can spend a lot of money getting the carts "up to snuff". We bought a beautiful cart that looked to be in perfect condition. However the third time we drove it a shaft broke. The "patent leather" trim hid the fact that water had managed to seep in and rot the shaft. Fortunately, we bought it at a good price and were able to buy replacement shafts for it. Kenny did the work himself, so we only had the cost of materials.

      Since you are new to driving, I'd get someone knowlebable to go with you to look at the carts.

      Also make certain that the carts are an appropriate size for you horse (who is quite lovely!). A good guideline is at http://www.americandrivingsociety.or...haft_table.asp

      We live in NC and cart prices vary widely. The pricing runs between $800 and $1,200 for carts in better condition than the ones you've shown. You can buy a new one for about $2,100.

      We love the carts we have and have driven them every place. They are very similar to the one you showed pictures of.
      The other female in my husband's life has four legs


      • Original Poster

        Y'all are so helpful!

        I believe both carts are suitable for a 15hh horse. My girl is 14.3. Is that appropriate? Or do I need to get out the measuring tape (as in a size 10 doesn't fit all women size 10)?

        They are asking $1,200 for each, and I was going to try to negotiate the lessons into that price (I've only brought it up preliminary with the person who is not the seller and have not talked to the seller directly). I didn't want to insult him by asking too low, but it looks like I'm right in range I think.

        The wood one is finished that way — so has a seal (?) on it.

        Both seem to have flakes in the finish, but no other structural problems that I can see. I have a guy who makes harnesses and carriages nearby and I may haul it over to him if I get the deal (I used to work for him).

        I think the carts were actually made in North Carolina! I remember seeing that on a plaque in the back.

        I've driven before but only with broke carriage horses. Would you believe I've wanted to break my horse to drive for 7 years! It's just so expensive to get into!


        • #5
          I looked at a cart just like this a few months ago and they were asking $750 willing to take a bit less iirc, including the harness. It was a steal of a price, and the cart and harness were in rough but useable condition. Both required TLC.

          The wheels were too small (44" iirc), and so the shafts ended up being too low for my horse, who is also 14.3h. When the shafts were level, it would have been about 6" below my horse's midline, close to his belly. Though the prior owner did put the cart to a 15h STB, the shafts were not straight, but on an up angle. My horse has broken withers and a very sensitive back, so I would not have been able to make this work for us, otherwise I would have LOVED to have had the cart.

          I had a good friend come with me to check out the cart, and she taught me some valuable tips looking at carts like this.

          Go with a friend and have your friend hold up the shafts as if they were the horse, and you get it. Have your friend walk and jog with the cart with you in it. Make sure it rides well, doesn't wobble or squeak excessively as if something were broken, and have your friend shake the shafts good and hard (as if you were going over roughed ground) to see if there is any play in the shafts. The one I looked at had one wobbly shaft that would have needed repair (and I wouldn't have discovered this had my friend not given it a good shake). It also required all the leather points on the shafts to be replaced, but that is common from what I'm told.

          My friend showed me how to go over all of the major bolts/rivets of the cart to look for excessive wear around the bolt, that will show a weak area, possibly ready to give.

          She also showed me how to line up the cart and sight down the shafts to see if the cart was bent or skewed at all, indicating a possible flip/wreck in its history. The one I looked at had a bent up dash and was probably in a mild wreck at one point.

          Also inspect the wheel and look at the rubber, make sure its solid and thick and not looking like it wants to come off. In your photos it does look good.

          The natural one seems to have flush hubs which is a bonus from what I understand, less likely to get bumped on a tree, etc, on the trails. It also has a dash and rein rail? I think its called a rein rail anyhow. Both bonuses over the painted one.

          I actually really like the painted one, I'm a sucker for burgundy anyhow, but I like the fenders and round floor/basket, I think it looks sporty. It appears to be front entry too, no?

          Good luck! I wish I had one of those carts, they look so fun!

          Your mare is just lovely and would look great in either I bet!
          Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


          • #6
            and BTW you are going to have SO much fun. Its so neat to be able to enjoy your horse in an entirely different fashion, driving is a great and fun skill to have.
            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


            • #7
              I would suggest you take your friend over to look at the vehicles, before purchase, to see if there are any problems.

              Regardless of them telling you about wood being sealed, the natural vehicle has finish issues. You can tell by the color changes in the photo. If the paint/finish is checking, flaking on either or both vehicles, carts should get some attention in refinishing or repainting. Cracks let moisture and water get to the raw wood, which then will get distorted and crack.

              I would plan to take a used vehicle to a carriage repair person, have them go over it for safety. You don't KNOW what is under those leather or vinyl shaft coverings, until you remove them. You DO NOT want to be driving the vehicle if the weak shaft breaks when horse does a sudden side-step. If vehicle needs some things like new bolts, wheels greased, wheels tightened, they can do that. You could ask what a paint job or new varnish would cost to have done. Time it would take to have completed. Good to have them check wheels when giving cart the once-over checkup. Then you have costs in mind, time delay, should you buy a vehicle needing attention.

              I would have your friend hold the shafts firmly, while you climb in and out of both vehicles. Is one easier than the other to enter and exit? Are you comfortable in those seats, with enough room for your legs, feet CAN REACH the floor? Back rests comfortable heights?

              If "trying them on" doesn't eliminate one vehicle, you might want to talk about lowering the price on the plainer, natural one. The finish is pretty rough, no fenders, not as "stylish" as the painted vehicle. Cart NEEDS to be refinished before much time passes, or moisture damage is going to force wood repairs. On the plus side, cart has easy entry front, flat/flush hubs, nothing to snag on posts!

              The painted cart is pretty, fenders are a nice touch and will keep the dirt down. I like the color, but again, it looks like the paint needs some attention soon, so the wood is protected. You don't get flush hubs with this one. Is the basket area comfortable to feet, easy to get over the shaft to enter?

              Both look like nice carts, IF they are the right size for your animal. You want the shafts riding level, as others have said. Shafts need to be long enough to come to the point of her shoulder, without her sitting on the dashboard. Wheels need to be tall enough to make the level shafts hit the right area on her barrel.


              • #8
                I'll leave the cart questions/comments to others...

                I'm concerned about the seller's training credentials. Read the other thread about the trainer who rushed the horse into cart and ended up possibly ruining him for driving. ANYONE can call themselves a trainer, and they may well have trained their own horses, but are they really someone you want training YOUR horse? I'd want references and a thorough vetting of their background and approach to training.
                They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth


                • #9
                  AMEN to what Susanne says. Check the creditials of any trainer. I've seen horses ruined in almost every sport.

                  Keep a close eye on the trainer too. Visit as often as you can to watch them train.

                  There are a number of great trainers in NC and SC. You have a number of ethical trainers to pick from. Just make certain you do your research!
                  The other female in my husband's life has four legs


                  • #10
                    Hi Azu! I just registered to add something to the mix- harness color!

                    Both of the carts are pretty vehicles- and your mare is beautiful! I just thought I'd mention in case you didn't know- a vehicle that has natural wood parts is considered "casual" while a painted vehicle is "formal"- that means it's proper to use black harness with the painted vehicle and russet harness with the wooden one. The metal on the harness should match the metal on the vehicle. It's funny because russet harness is usually more expensive than black- so it can cost more to sport the "casual" look. They have recently started making some synthetic harness in the brown russet color- so that's still an option if you want to go that way (synthetic harness with a varnished wood vehicle) Do a google image search for russet harness and imagine how it would look on your mare- that alone may help you choose the vehicle style.

                    Of course horses don't care what color the harness is- I just wanted to mention it because you were asking about dressage and I wanted you to know that aspect of getting it right while you mull these choices over and once you commit- it's a big expense to switch.

                    Personally I think $1200 is high for used carts in this condition. I live in Indiana where there are large carriage auctions to the north and the west 2x per year... and if you went to an auction like that you's see these used vehicles bringing about half that. Of course if you don't have sale like that in your area- it's going to cost you to travel and haul and you won't wind up saving any money anyway.


                    • #11
                      Actually, with the natural vehicle having black trim, a black harness is quite appropriate for use on the horse pulling it.

                      If you are reading the ADS rules, there are LOTS of details, qualifications for the "always" remarks you can hear regarding the Pleasure Driving turnouts.

                      We also have a couple natural colored, antique vehicles. Their trim is all black, metal is all painted black, so the harness used is always black when we drive them. Seen and approved by some of the VERY tough, old school Carriage Judges for correctness.

                      The natural vehicle with BROWN trim, non-black upholstery, painted metals in brown, would require the russet harness.

                      Metals on the vehicle, like shaft tips, seat trim, in silver or brass, should match the harness buckle metals. You can paint metals if you like, so harness could have silver or brass on the same vehicle, still be correct and save a LOT of polishing on your vehicle!


                      • #12
                        Thank you Goodhors- I forgot all about the brown metal detail! I don't have that famous rule book- but I've heard it's a doozy to decode!

                        So am I to understand that the russet harness is only proper with brown metal on a wood vehicle?- and if there is black metal- then the harness MUST be black regardless if the rest of the vehicle is wood?


                        • #13
                          Well I went looking for the information in the ADS Rulebook, and found even MORE information than expected! I am not up to date on my Rules!! This information was found under Article 18-Harness.

                          "ARTICLE 18 STYLE OF HARNESS
                          1. The ADS recognizes specific national types of harness.
                          2. Bridles should fit snugly to prevent catching on the vehicle or other pieces of
                          harness. A throatlatch and a noseband or cavesson are mandatory.
                          3. Black harness is considered appropriate with painted vehicles, with shaft and pole
                          trimmings done in black. It is also considered appropriate with a natural wood
                          vehicle with iron parts painted any color except brown. Shaft and pole trimmings,
                          dash and fenders are done in black.
                          Russet harness is considered appropriate with:
                          a) Natural wood vehicle with brown or black iron,
                          b) Painted vehicle with natural wood panels with any color iron or
                          c) Vehicle that is painted brown with brown iron. Shaft and pole trimmings
                          should match the harness.
                          4. All metal furnishings should match, be secure and polished.
                          5. Breast collars are appropriate with lightweight vehicles. Full collars are suggested
                          for heavy vehicles such as coaches, breaks, phaetons, dog carts, etc.
                          6. A correctly-fitting harness saddle is important for the comfort of the horse. A
                          wide saddle is suggested for two-wheeled vehicles, as more weight rests on the
                          horse’s back. Narrower saddles are more appropriate for four-wheeled vehicles.
                          7. The tying of tongues is prohibited."

                          So ADS folks have changed things from years past, making more options for the exhibitor with their russet harness. Nice, when you can only have one vehicle and harness.


                          • #14
                            There sure are a lot of options! Thanks for looking that up because I had no idea there were so many russet possibilities. (I've always had a soft spot for russet but always though that it was a super limiting choice- now I see that it's not quite so)

                            But brown gloves- no matter what right?


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
                              But brown gloves- no matter what right?

                              Yes, always brown of some shade for Driving. Heck, I remember when we could only wear brown gloves for riding in English tack!

                              Historically, black gloves were only worn when someone in the family died.


                              • Original Poster

                                Does anyone know of any trainers in the Charleston area? Or will it be Aiken/Camden?

                                I'm not into rushing. Actually, as I was talking to the person about the carts, another person said a young girl at the barn breaks to cart. While I was breaking horses and training at 17, I just couldn't imagine having a young girl help break my horse to drive.

                                I know so much more now than I did at 17! (I think she's older than that, but I'd much rather have an old trainer ... I'm such a hypocrit!)

                                In fact, this mare here I broke when I was 18. While she turned out great, I'd love the opportunity to have her as a baby again. So much I would do differently!

                                I'm sure the girl does great work, but I'm weird about who gets to work with me and my horse.

                                Y'all have given lots of food for thought!!! It's all so complicated! Maybe I'm putting the cart before the horse (pun intended), and should find a trainer who can get her broke and THEN go cart shopping?

                                I was feeling a bit impulsive yesterday!

                                Thank you for the compliments on my horse! I love her to pieces!


                                • #17
                                  I personally bought my cart before I ever had a notion to drive my horse. My friend who taught me how to drive was selling a jog cart for dirt cheap and I just couldn't resist. I like cob/pony sized horses, she likes the same, I knew she'd used the cart on horses in the 14-15 range so I figured it would work for me someday. I never imagined driving the horse I'm driving now, I imagined I'd get around to using it on some other horse

                                  The day I did decide to actually pursue driving, I had a huge part of the puzzle already in hand and all I needed was a harness. It quickly turned an idea into reality and it kept me motivated and moving forward.

                                  Getting started in driving is daunting. There is a lot to learn, and it takes patience, skill and tact to remain safe and happy, safety being paramount. Like most things though, the more you learn the easier it gets till one day you look back and wonder what you were so frightened of. To me, having the equipment kept me motivated to keep going even when sometimes I was feeling a bit in over my head.

                                  OTOH, there is nothing more depressing than buying tack/equipment and finding out it doesn't fit or needs more repairs than originally thought.

                                  I would suggest going and looking at the carts anyhow just to get a feel for cart shopping, etc., but I don't know if I'd be hell bent to buy at those prices, I think the general consensus agrees its on the high end of normal for the condition. If I were you, I'd go looking at carts, keep the excitement up but reserved and go out and window shop and learn what you like and what will suit your mare size wise, and if you come across a great bargain maybe pounce on that. At the very least, if for some reason you don't pursue driving you can at least part with the vehicle with little chance of taking a loss on the purchase.

                                  FWIW, this ad was on the CDL the other day, sounds like a fair price for such a nice cart (not affiliated with this ad, just posting for comparison how a show ready vehicle is just a few hundred more).

                                  Running Brook Spinner for sale. The details: 44 1/2 in. wheels, 76 in. shafts. Used with a 15-hand Morgan. Originally ordered in a cherry stain finish, but I think the Amishman who stained it was color-blind because it really looks more blonde -- if there's any cherry in there you really have to look hard to see it. Black patent leather and brass fittings. Extras include patent leather dash with rein rail and light taupe-ish bedford cord upholstery. This is a very comfortable and stable vehicle -- those of you who are agility-challenged (like me) will be happy to know that it's a front-entry cart and very easy to get in and out. Ample room for two passengers, or one driver with middle-age spread. Used only for shows and stored inside a garage the rest of the time -- it's in excellent condition. Comes with car cover. I estimate that the same vehicle new would cost almost $2500 -- but this one can be yours for $1800, ready to roll.
                                  Located in upstate New York, north of Albany.
                                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                                  • #18
                                    DNJ2 here

                                    While the painted vehicle is pretty, I would make darn sure it I could get in and out easily over that shaft! Knowing my limitations, THAT would be an issue for me.

                                    The natural vehicle may need refinishing.


                                    • #19
                                      I am not the authority on Aiken area trainers, which is sad as I live among them... Lol. But I know one closer to charleston would be Pam Pruitt in Wagener I believe, or at least keeps you closer to the interstate... Most of your Aiken trainers are here in Windsor or Williston, which gets you a bit off the beaten path. I have a friend who trains with her and really likes her. I like Muffy Seaton in Williston, who I don't believe will start any horses anymore, but you might ask. I've also had lessons with Jennifer Matheson who I also really liked, don't know if she takes in training horses there at Katydid or not. Those are the only two I've taken lessons from here. Muffy has lesson ponies of all sizes, I don't know if Jennifer offers any.

                                      If you start with lessons, often your instructor will know of used equipment available. Of the two carts you posted, I would go with the natural stained one, purely for the front entry aspect, I think the painted one is prettier with the fenders, but I could not get in or out of it. As others have stated, both need refinishing which would make me wonder if the rest of it is sound or not. I'm a metal fan because it's easier to maintain for me, I don't have to worry about it as much.
                                      Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        I've been talking to a driver in Windsor. I'm not sure if I can swing this.

                                        My horse has a laminitic condition that requires special care. Not many trainers willing to take a horse like her (heck, not a lot of boarding facilities will either!). She's sound and healthy, but only if you follow her diet and management routine.

                                        This is one of the reasons I wanted to get into driving with her. At 10 years old, I'm not certain how well she will hold up in dressage with it's tighter turns. Her xrays are clean for arthritis in both fronts, but with the damage of one rotation and two sinkings, who knows how comfy she'll be as a dressage horse 5-10 years from now.

                                        Doesn't seem to be any driving trainers out my way

                                        I appreciate the help! I'm not going to give up. I just need to find the right trainer who is also willing to take care of her the way she needs to be taken care of.

                                        I had the opportunity to break her to drive more than a year ago when she stayed with a cowboy-type trainer who drives (but not competitively). I ended up declining because I figured I'd have the opportunity later! Ugh! That was when we lived in NC.

                                        We're military so maybe our next station will be around more drivers lol