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Which type of pole is appropriate?

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  • Which type of pole is appropriate?


    I have a carriage that is almost exacly like this. It currently has shafts for it but would like to drive my 13hh ponies on it. What type of pole would I be looking for? It has a dropped pole, but that stil gives me many options that I don't know which would be the best. Would I use an evener? A ring yoke or a bolted yoke? Straight pole? Bent? Double bend?

    Would I be able to drive a 4 in hand on this vehicle? I remember hearing something about a dropped pole and a four in hand doesn't work so well....?

  • #2
    A dropped pole would be appropriate for that kind of wagon. The dropped pole requires a neckyoke, which is supported by the harness on horse chest. Neck yoke is traditionally removable, made of wood, holds up the pole end. Pole usually comes back to the steel "yoke" that attaches to the brackets on axle, then rises to the pole itself, where the evener sits. Kind of a wide U-shape of metal. Bends could be involved if wood pole needs to be shorter height for smaller animals or higher for longer legged animals. The curve of the bend would raise the pole length to tip end, up to be more even with animal's midway line on their barrel. You don't want pole riding down below the belly on tall horses or pointed downhill when hitched to small animals. Like this pole. Most of the height is in the iron work shaping by the axle.


    This pole shows the height gained in the bent wood of pole itself, not the attachment yoke going to the axle. Pole is not showing the evener and singletrees on it.


    The dropped pole is never self-carried, always is supported by the animal's necks with the neckyoke. Because of the weight of pole and yoke, "usually" this dropped pole is not used for 4-in-hand, because adding the Leader Bars with their singletrees is adding a lot of weight on the Wheeler's necks. Dropped pole is rather lightweight in build, compared to wagon tongues, which also drop to the ground when the yoke is removed. Heavier built wagons need stronger, heavier built wagon tongues, and you will see "add ons" of poles with eveners needed to make up a hitch of 4 or 6-8 animals. Still puts a lot of weight on the wheeler's necks, but usually used with bigger animals, draft types. Lead pair doesn't have a pole between them. And these bigger hitches are wearing full neck collars to help spread the weight on bigger areas of the horse. I do still see a number of those big horses with white spots in the mane where collar pressure has made the hair turn white.

    You NEED to have some kind of evener with a dropped pole, though you could tie it down so there is little movement until ponies are trained and moving off evenly, SMOOTHLY, when you ask them to walk. With evener tied down, the animals are pulling with singletrees, so if one is not starting evenly, the other pony is not punished for it.


    • Original Poster

      Thank you for that. I've always wondered why one couldn't use a dropped pole and a 4 in hand.

      I'm waiting for my newly rebuilt wheels to be delivered. Once I get them all painted and on the carriage, do I measure how high the axle is and then let the pole maker know? Where would I get a pole made? What information do they need? I know there's Hansen, Oxbow, Witmer and probably a few more. Does anyone have a preference or any input at all?

      What is the difference in this neckyoke and the ring end ones that I'm used to seeing? I've google for hours and wouldn't find anything to attach to that footman's loop looking thing?


      My harnesses have this type front attachment. So I guess I need the ring type neckyoke?


      • #4
        The neckyoke shown, has the strap from horse (usually wearing a light buggy collar, sometimes breastcollar harness), run thru the footman's loop and back to the buckle end of strap near horse. Some folks ran the strap around the neckyoke end and thru the horse collar back to the buckle end. The footman's loop prevents strap from coming loose or falling off the yoke end while driving.

        For your snap under harness collar, you probably will want the ring fastened on the neckyoke end to fasten the snap to. This kind of yoke is usually heavier built, since this is a draft animal style of attachment. Make sure the center of yoke has the right kind of attachment to work on the lighter wagon pole end. AND I would put a safety strap with an anchor D-ring on my pole, so the yoke CAN NOT fall off until strap is unbuckled.

        I expect you do need to measure height of axles when wheels are on. Then you have to figure how much box goes forward of that, to allow clearance of the metal yoke parts and how forward the bend is where it meets the wood pole. Plus height of the animals you plan to use. You want pole running about midway of their barrel, but you will have some drop down using the neckyoke with pole holder BELOW that. So that will mean you need to measure ponies in harness, to where the collar snap is, that holds the yoke on. Could be your pole length height is needing to be rather short, using ponies! You always want the pole running slightly uphill to the neckyoke. This is where the wagon end of pole can't be too high for the animals. Your metal yoke for the axles may need to just be sweeping forward, not much rise at all, to fit ponies. The singletrees and evener will also be rather wide. This is the style for working animals, no traces rubbing them, during all day working. Looks odd now, but ALL the buggies, light wagons are set up this way.

        If you were using lighter Driving harness, light buggy collars, the yoke might be a couple inches taller fastened shorter to the collars, than what you will have using the lower placed snaps. Probably not much difference though, to matter greatly. I haven't really seen many folks using breastcollar harness with this kind of neckyoke. Leather breastcollars don't give enough support to use with this kind of neckyoke, lot of weight on the neck strap over horse mane, so not a good idea for the horses.

        Give the carriage folks a call, ask THEM how they would make measurements to fit animals to vehicle. I bet they get this kind of call pretty often. Husband just eyeballs it, fitted the pole to the horses and vehicle. He started with a good used pole and hardware. Bought a new neckyoke because pole didn't have one. He is VERY good at metal working, so anything that needed adjusting, he just modified. However some metals are hard to change, like cast parts. While steel stock can be more easily heated and bent to fit the shape needed. Real easy to break cast metals, quite unforgiving of any mistakes.

        You can buy a pole ready-made or you can get a "kit" and make your own. I probably would send in my measurements, purchase a ready-made pole and neckyoke set-up. You were quite far from any local buggy shops if I remember. So no local help with putting stuff together and fitting it to the animals.
        Last edited by goodhors; May. 29, 2013, 10:24 AM.


        • Original Poster

          I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to type all of this up. It's greatly appreciated when people of knowledge speak out.

          How would you drive a four-in-hand on a dropped pole? I know that you said it's not ideal. This must be awfully true as I haven't been able to find any information on it at all. If there's a neckyoke, does it stay on as it wouldn't fit over the hook? So you'd just use the bolt on style neckyoke? I know with my light harnesses I have a spring pole, crab and hook configuration. The draft horses have the spreader bar and chains.


          • #6
            You don't drive a four with a dropped pole. The pole HAS to be held up on it's own when you have wheelers and leaders; thus the dropped pole is designed for a pair ONLY because the pair holds up the pole via their collars, AND the yoke merely slips over the tip of the pole and relies upon the horse being properly positioned along the pole to keep the yoke in place.

            If you want this vehicle to be driven to a four, you have to change over the entire undercarriage to support a fixed pole. Can you do that? The answer is: Yes.... BUT it will cost you $$$$$ in the terms of new springs, a new fifth wheel, possibly a whole new undercarriage, and a whole bunch of other structural changes that just don't make it cost effective.

            I know this isn't the answer you want, but....you might be better off just finding a vehicle that is already set up for a four, and save this one for a pair.