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trace question

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  • trace question

    I have a work harness that has a trace with a chain on the end. I put the chain link on my sword singletree, which has a metal piece that the chain link fits under.

    My problem is that I have a sleigh which has brass hooks on the single tree, which is for a slot type trace. I want to eventually get a breast plate harness with the trace with a slot, but can't swing it right now. But then I wonder if it will fit on my cart with the sword type singletree!

    SO, my question is can I get an attachment to make my trace with the chain fit onto a singletree with a hook? I hope that I have explained this right. I really want to be ready to sleight when the snow flies!
    Jackie and Ollie

  • #2
    I don't really think you can use chain end traces on the singletrees with the small, S-type hooks on the ends. You would need to change the singetree or the traces. Actually, the sword end singletree, should be using slot end traces too, even though the clips are keeping the chains on the ends so far.

    Chain end traces are usually attached to singletrees with large hooks which can take the chain loops and not fall off easily. The hook end comes back around on itself, so the chains stay on, even with no pull on the traces.

    A suggestion, is buying a breastcollar with buckles, which would allow you to own various ends on traces. You just get a new pair of traces, instead of the whole breastcollar that only fits one vehicle. Or change the singletrees, so they are all the same type, to fit your breastcollar chain ends.

    Chain ended traces are more commonly used with draft harness, so animal is ready for heavy work. Chains are not seen much with very light vehicles like a cart or 2-person sleighs.

    Witmer's Coach Shop sells a variety of singletrees if you don't have a local buggy shop to get parts from.


    • #3

      This singletree shows one style of trace hooks for chain traces.

      I think your best/cheapest solution for now is to get a new singletree for the sleigh which has this (or similar) type chain hook for your traces.

      I would get two- and swap out the sword end singletree too while you are at it- as the chains even if they fit- don't really belong in that arrangement either... I'm afraid they would grind and wear the wood.


      • #4
        PS- I'm not suggesting that you get the single tree in the picture I shared- I just grabbed it to illustrate the hooks - The center section of this piece is probably all wrong for your shafts.


        • #5
          Thanks Plainandtall, I didn't have time to find an example singletree showing the correct hooks for chain traces.


          • Original Poster

            Thank you for the responses. I guess, I really need to get a breast type harness with slots. The sword single tree is thick. Is there different size slots in the traces? It would seem like I need different size slots for the hook type single tree and the sword type single tree.
            So many choices and decisions, it's hard for a newbie to navigate. Any suggestions between leather and biotin?
            Thanks guys for your help.


            • #7
              Single trees are really inexpensive in the grand scheme of things.

              Here is a source I just found when I was looking for a picture of a type of end I wanted you to know about-


              The ends labeled "premium ends" are intended to use with chains so you won't have any chain/wood contact.

              If your sword end tree isn't going to work for your favorite harness- switch it out and enjoy what you are using. Switching the singletrees on all your vehicles (aside for paint hardships if you have a fancy or unusual color vehicle) to suit your favorite harness is probably much better than trying to make the harness work with a variety of singletrees.

              There are also hardware upgrades that might make the whole thing work better for you-I've seen sword ends that just have a leather thong for security and some sword ends just have a strap of spring steel with a foot on the end that boings down to hold the trace securely- and some have a nice jointed clip that clicks down into a receiving hole. (marked "brass trace holder" on that website)

              I think you should eventually get slotted leather or synthetic (I know you meant biothane not biotin) traces regardless if you keep your collar or go with a breast collar. It's just "wrong" to use chains in light pleasure use- unless you are going to do logging, farming or are showing a draft hitch horse or a big coach.

              The new traces will make your harness lighter to carry, nicer to hitch and quieter to drive.
              You can get new hames and traces and keep your current collar.


              • Original Poster

                Wow, very helpful. So, I think that my best bet is to get a singletree with the premium ends and install it on my sleigh. Do you think that would work? I called the company, but no answer. I sure hope they are still in business.
                Again, a big thank you to all your help
                Fondly Jackie and Ollie, who hopefully will be sleighing this winter!


                • #9
                  I tend to like the S-shape hooks on the end of light singletrees, because they don't make the slots enlarge, like the various types of sword end singletrees can do.

                  The trick using the S-shape hooks, is they need to be almost vertical, not laying in the same direction as the wood of the singletree. This means you have to lift and slide the slot over the S, then push the trace down level with the wood in hitching the horse. With the S-hook upright, the trace can't wrinkle if loose and come off the hook.

                  We learned this when a couple "old guys" asked why we had a bungee going across the singletree? "That is to hold traces on, one will wiggle off it there is slack" I said. They laughed, said we hadn't reset the hooks from "factory settings" which are flat for shipping! Just a little crank on the S-hook to change it to a more upright setting with a pair of channelocks, and we NEVER had a trace come off again!! S-hooks screw into the end of their singletree, so it is an easy fix.

                  I would agree, in getting all your vehicles the same style singletree, so your harness goes well whatever you choose to drive that day!

                  Word of warning, do your sleighbell practice UNHITCHED, get horse calm and quiet with the noise before you hitch him with bells on.

                  Second bit of warning, is that your sleigh runners MIGHT freeze to the ground while hitching or stopping and standing for a little time. Teach STANDING horse to STEP LEFT, then STEP RIGHT with a gentle touch of whip on barrel of horse, before asking him to "walk on". Doing this sidestep will break the runners loose, so he can move forward easily. I have seen some UGLY scenes with NICE horses who had never pulled a sleigh and couldn't go forward with frozen runners. Rearing is common!! Few horses are used to really taking loaded weight and leaning into it to move ahead. SAFER to do the side step and break the runners loose, THEN ask for forward. You can practice the side step in a cart, so horse learns the commands well, ready when you need them!

                  Sleighs run on a layer of water over the snow, caused by friction of the runners. So when the sleigh stops moving and it is cold, the water layer freezes the runners to the ground. You do NOT want to surprise your horse with a frozen sleigh, so do your sidestep to help him free the load before moving off. Sleighing is FUN, sounds like you have a great winter coming up!!


                  • #10
                    My horse is out in the pasture right now wearing a few bells. (cheapies that I can afford for him to trash) I will add bells a little at a time. I was going to introduce him to his new strap- first by me just walking around with it- and then leading him while I wore it- and then me leading him with him wearing them... but his pasture buddy blew that whole plan by acting like an idiot and making him think that there might be something to fear. So I had to scale the whole thing back and we'll take it a lot slower. He wore some bells last year- but apparently he forgot.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you for all the thought provoking responses! My brain is still trying to comprehend your post about the hooks Goodhors. LOL
                      That was one of my concerns, that the slot end of the trace would be stretched out by the thick sword type singletree. I was then concerned that it would be too stretched out for the hook and slip off.
                      I have asked many drivers about my problems concerning this trace dilemma for about a year and I finally have some GREAT help.
                      I would have never thought about the runners sticking. Great advice. However, my haffy has been hearing the bells ring and me singing jingle bells for a year. I was unable to hook him to the sleight last year because of the trace problem. I hope that Daves is still in business and responds to me.

                      Again, thanks for all the great info.
                      Fondly, Jackie and OLLie