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How "bad" is it really, to get "starter driving equipment"?

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  • How "bad" is it really, to get "starter driving equipment"?

    I share a small Shetland companion pony with my sister (because Tinkerbelle serves to keep our two mares company)

    She's 4 years old, 41" tall, and we want to give her a job to do. She'd be a great driving pony, we think. We've started her long-lining and she is virtually unflappable.

    We will be hooking up with our trainer and some other local driving experts soon....BUT.....

    We are looking into getting a harness (and cart) Problem is, though I tend to want to buy something "once" that is high quality/high comfort/safe, my "other half" wants to spend as little as possible.

    Hard to justify to my sister, some of the nicer harnesses I'm finding....when a "nylon or biothane pony harness" can be had for less than $100 easily (esp. used

    Same for carts....she seems to think you can get a cart for super cheap, but I feel you get what you pay for.

    Is it REALLY BAD to start with cheapy stuff? Her logic (besides being poor..teehehehee) is that we don't know how "into driving" we or our pony will truly be. So why buy the good/$$$ stuff now?

    Our goal would be to pleasure drive for fun, to keep the pony exercised, etc. We are so busy with our riding horses, we don't forsee really going crazy into driving.

    Just want Tinkerbelle to have a job to do, and be able to keep her fit and have fun going down our neighborhood roads, eventually (we are in a private horse community with very safe 'non-trafficy' roads)

    For starting/training - we have a huge arena and pastures we can toodle around in (safe area)

    Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
    **Morgans Do It All**

  • #2
    My thought is that you want to buy good equipment, not cheap equipment. Having a wreck when driving adds a whole new dimension to the ways you can get hurt around a horse. When things go wrong driving, they can get pretty ugly.

    I would not confuse nylon with biothane. Biothane is synthetic harness and its easy to maintain. I love my harness because cleaning it off means getting the hose out and spraying it. I can't imaging having to clean leather harness.

    As for carts, I still remember the day when the wheel of an inexpensive training cart collapsed when Mr. IF was driving. He was pulled the length of the ring trapped in the cart. Fortunately both Mr. IF and the horse were okay, but I bought a Tidaholm cart to replace it because I wanted steel construction and disc brakes.

    I would be prepared to spend the money to get better quality equipment.
    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


    • #3
      I would much rather buy good quality used, than poor quality new.

      Harness: the cheap designs are ill fitting and leathers are just cheap.

      Carts: blow up tires go pop and cheap metals bend and rust.

      Honest. There are great deals to be had in used pony sized harness and carts. Your sister is right in that you don't have to go top of the line but do need to get good quality, whether you buy new or used.

      Do your research, figure out the good brands (peruse the threads here to start). Don't buy stuff that is vintage, antique or old. Buy leathers that are still supple, bio that isn't too old or cheap, no rust and buy brands that are well known and you should be fine. But remember, if you buy new from a reputable seller, you can return if it doesn't fit. Not so with ebay or used stuff. Make sure you have measured your pony before you buy.

      I can't see where you live, but if you are near anywhere near an Amish community, buy direct and save $$$$.
      Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF


      • #4
        Buying cheap is really a false economy for two reasons

        1. Cheap is usually ill-fitting and likely weaker. Think about wearing a really cheap pair of shoes that don't quite fit right. Uncomfortable right? You don't want that for the pony. Makes driving an unpleasant job for her and totally against what you said you wanted.

        2. Cheap is what you buy it for - when you want to re-sell the value will have gone down or it will often be something that is dangerously weak and something you don't want to sell on. A decent set of harness (and there are inexpensive but good ones out there) will hold its resale value so if you decide you don't want to do this any more the harness will sell for closer what you paid for it.

        Same with vehicles


        • #5
          Some of my customers were talking about this a couple of weeks ago.

          In effect they were all agreeing that "Beginners" or "Starters" sets were so labelled and described because their opinion was that only someone who didn't know what they were doing would waste their money buying them.

          I hasten to add that 2 of those in the conversation freely admitted to making mistakes and wasting their money buying cheap stuff which they'd quickly come to realise was useless or not enabling what they wanted and needed. They were stuck with it and couldn't sell it at all.

          I've quite a bit of that sort of stuff which I use to show folks what to look out for and run away from and all of which has been given to me after something has gone wrong.

          Buy good quality and it will last a life time and will retain its second hand value and be saleable. Your and your horses life and comfort depend on it.


          • #6
            I broke my 38" donkey to drive last year. I purchased a nice wooden pony easy entry cart for $450 directly from the vendor so I didn't pay shipping, it is $625 with shipping though. I especially like the 26" wheels on it and it has 60" shafts.
            I paid $250 for a nice Amish made leather harness. I prefer leather to anything but if you don't want to get leather go with biothane and bypass nylon completely.


            Then there is the harness bag for $75.00:


            All & all you can expect to pay a minimum of $700 for cart and harness. Make sure both fit the animal you are buying it for. Your pony is too big for a mini cart so you will need a pony sized cart for him. I could put a larger pony on my cart so I know your 41 pony would probably be perfect.

            Edit: I don't show, will never show and only use the cart occasionally. The cart I purchased is very pretty, hand made by an Amish man but it is not a "show" cart. My husband drives the donkey while I ride my horse. He doesn't like to ride so this is how I can get him to go on a trail ride with me without hearing him whine the whole time. Besides my donkey is really cute when harnessed to the cart

            Last edited by PRS; Jul. 17, 2009, 11:16 AM.
            "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


            • #7
              Personally I like leather but a well made bio and beta harness is perfectly acceptable. I have a set or two and there is nothing at all wrong with it. For carts there are several way you can go. I personally like my steel with motorcycle wheel carts for just hacking and playing. I know some are adamant that you never use a pneumatic wheel on a cart. I do know that the little bike tire type wheels are an accident waiting to happen. Very easy to roll a wheel off the rim.

              I would look for a quality used cart and a good new or used bio harness. Quality will retain the value and cheap will be useless. That said good quality used need not break the bank. LF
              Lostfarming in Idaho


              • Original Poster

                Thanks guys.

                I'm with you. I think I just need to help educate my sister. She has it in her head that you can get a cheap nylon harness for $50, and the woman who sold us our pony said her "neighbor has a cart for $100"!!!???

                So she is balking at even paying $500 total (for cart and harness) which I have been able to find (doing alot of research!)

                Her arguement is that we aren't showing, we don't even know if we'll like it , etc.

                I'll show her the responses to this, as well as continue education process. I'm sure the saddlebred trainer that we plan to take lessons from will help set us straight

                BTW - is there a downside to taking driving lessons from an ASB guy? We want nothing to do with with THAT particular style of driving (showing, park harness classes, etc)...but we figured he could give us driving lessons that would help.
                Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                **Morgans Do It All**