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Two wheelers with brakes

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  • Two wheelers with brakes

    I have been researching my first vehicle purchase. My only lessons have been in a marathon vehicle and I did like having a brake to assist on downhills or to create a bit of drag in the case of an over-zealous horse.

    My previous trainer preferred marathon carts for a newbie's (both horse and driver) first purchase, but most feel that the possibility of a jack-knife is too much for a newbie to safely handle. So I decided a two-wheeler would be best.

    But now, my current trainer does not like two-wheeled rigs without brakes - she says brakes are needed to back up a half-halt at times. I DO like to have a brake, just in case, but I know they have to be applied in the proper manner on a two-wheeler and it is a hard option to find in a used cart.

    I personally never used the brake as part of a half-halt - she must use it as part of a downward transition.

    So - opinions???

  • #2
    I have been told that you don't want brakes on a two wheeler because they make the shafts pivot downwards. Is there any truth to that? I did train in a fore cart (two wheeler) with brakes that was great for helping my horse with standing. I am eager to hear more about this topic!


    • #3
      I have seen two wheeled vehicles with brakes advertised, so I had this discussion with my engineer husband. He and my engineering student barn help teamed up to demonstrate the principle for me, placing me between the shafts of our village cart and having me pull forward while they applied the "brakes," one on each wheel.

      There is definitely downward pressure on the shafts when brakes are applied.

      "But why can't there be some opposing force?" I asked. Our marriage has a history of husband being able to solve just about any problem.

      "There is," DH replied. "It's the horse."

      Okay, so next question: is that always a bad thing? One of the things I love about two-wheeled carts is the ability to interact with the horse through the shafts, and I can reinforce a halfhalt by gently tipping forward so that weight is applied downward through the tugs. Theoretically, having brakes would do this for you.

      But there are force multipliers at work and I don't know that you could control the amount of downward pressure applied. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that this could become downright dangerous in a panic situation.

      To the OP: can you ask your instructor if she has driven a two-wheeled cart with brakes, and what the effect was?


      • #4
        My thought would be to ask the instructor why a trained horse would need such re-inforcement? My horses transition "down" very well and I just haven't had a big (any?) need to apply brakes from the trot to the walk or the canter to the trot except very rarely in a very green horse

        Is there an occassion or a head strong horse? Of course! But that should be extremely rare unless maybe you are training for hazards/marathon? That might be a different case and I could understand that type of training needing brakes.

        but...but...but. It is all money.
        Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF


        • #5
          having been the owner of a few 2 wheel carts, i would never buy another without brakes. I think they are very important for downward transitions in dressage and for going down hill with young green horses. of course you need to use it responsibly but a tap on the brakes with your half halts or to allow the horse to do his downward transition without having to also hold the carriage back, far outweighs the chance of downward pressure on the shafts. Always make sure to have a properly balanced carriage from the start and use a wide saddle that fits properly with nice flat pads.
          Wendy Ying, DVM,CVA
          Wysiwyg Sportcobs & 5 Elements for Animals


          • #6
            I ordered my gig cart with brakes because of our hairpin curves and steep hills. I was forewarned about their pitfallss and knew to be extremely careful in their use. Claudette told me I wouldn't need them, and she was right. I don't have them on the training cart and never needed them.

            I think they would be a good idea on real training carts if for no other reason than to reinforce the *WHOA/STAND* command when passengers mount or at places you need a 100% stop in relation to car traffic. Cookie was trained on a Pioneer forecart with disc brakes, and I am sure they taught my very forward horse to stop and stand. She is still *forward* undersaddle but a different horse in harness.

            One of my driving books is all about dressage training and the authors are adamant that a brake is necessary even on a 2 wheeler. I am nowhere near that point yet, but I took the plunge on their recommendation. Not sure if I would do it again, since I haven't used them.

            "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx


            • #7
              I've had both.

              Meadowbrook with no brakes
              Village Cart (4-passenger) with disc brakes
              Pioneer Forecart-mechanical brakes
              Easy Entry Cart-no brakes

              I prefer brakes, A well-balanced cart isn't going to put that much additional weight on a horse's back. A harness for a cart should have a wider saddle anyway to spread the weight.
              "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


              • #8
                I've got brakes on all my 4 wheel vehicles (rear wheels only) but I personally don't like brakes on 2 wheelers at all. I don't see them as necessary at all for the likes of pleasure driving vehicles which are light weight. Apply them incorrectly and you've a huge risk of tipping the vehicle over. Seen that too often. I've also made quite a bit of money removing brakes and also inspecting vehicles for insurance purposes that have been written off because of an accident in which misuse of brakes was a root cause and subsequent contributory factor to what then became a serious wreck!

                All this "stuff" about having to have them for transitioning down or for the likes of half halts or dressage is just absolute nonsense.

                When you drive a 2 wheeler it should be well balanced and drivers should know as part of basic driving how you put weight on and take it off by altering your weight. In a well balanced vehicle you only need to incline your head and shoulders forward and weight will go on. I teach how and when to put weight on and half halts as lesson one.

                Appreciate I've done a lot of serious hills and serious dressage: No-one ever drives dressage going up and down hills ! So that argument goes out the window. There's never a situation where you should be transitioning down and you're asking the horse to hold the carriage back. If you're driving at speed and there's steep hills down, you should adjust your horse's speed long before you go downhill and your backstepper should be helping with this job by moving appropriately.... no matter whether you've got brakes or not IMO you shouldn't be relying on them for the likes of half halts.
                Last edited by Thomas_1; Jan. 10, 2010, 11:24 AM. Reason: typo....


                • #9
                  I hate brakes on a vehicle of most any kind. The exception is a wagon that is loaded heavy and steep hills. Britchen properly adjusted and a little bit of horse training and you should be able to back or hold most any load. CDE's are a possible exception but even then a good team worth their salt should have enough brakes in their ass to stop the load. It is the sliding that the brakes help out on. Brakes on a 2 wheeler is pointless because there is not enough weight to keep the wheels from dragging.

                  On short, more miles less gimmicks. Maybe the trainer needs to drive a few more horses. Training will trump gadgetry every time. LF
                  Lostfarming in Idaho


                  • #10
                    LostFarmer - are you saying that, because of the relative lightweight of a two-wheeled vehicle, that any application of brakes would cause skidding?

                    Curiously, "Carriage Driving" by Bean and Blanchard highly recommends a brake - always.

                    I am sooooo confused!!


                    • #11
                      Rather than skidding what happens is that the wheels lock and the horses just continue on. Remember that a brake doesn't stop the horse. It merely stops the carriage.

                      So if the horse continues when the wheels are locked then it merely drags the carriage. The bad accidents I've seen are where that's happened and the horse continues on and it just whips the tyre right off the wheel. The worst I've come across is where the tyre then shot off and scared the excrement out of the horse as it slapped it and there was a runaway and a disaster.

                      It's an error of judgement to think the purpose of a brake on a carriage is to stop or slow up the horse.

                      It's not.

                      It's to keep the weight of the vehicle and passengers off the backside of the horse. So you should use your break to hold the vehicle off the horse nothing else.

                      No more and no less.


                      • #12
                        Much will depend on the skills of the driver. Newer, less experienced drivers can try to rely on the brakes for STOPPING a horse. Well brakes are NOT going to stop any single horse on a cart or light carriage! Horse outweighs the vehicle, and will just drag it along as Thomas said.

                        Carriage brakes are not like CAR brakes, for HALTING that vehicle.

                        Many, many CDE drivers, like our Coth MandyWing, are VERY experienced drivers, who use a tool like cart brakes when competing. They know what the brakes are capable of, would not use them for stopping or forcing horse to stop. Also not for trying to hold a nervous horse down, while going down the road.

                        As mentioned, cart brakes can help the green horse on a downhill, some resent the pushing or get scared. Brakes can help hold the cart so he has less push, maybe can stop and rest for a few minutes on a steep or long downgrade. Green is learning, better to help him, than frighten him as he learns to manage weight behind.

                        Even a big forecart, is not going to stop a horse, but might give him a big jolt if brakes are used hard. He can drag that forecart along if he wants to go anyway.

                        Then there is the maintaining of the brake system. Often folks don't keep the fluid up, check for pressure, dirt in the mechanism. Then when the person pushes the pedal, they get NO RESPONSE! You need to keep an eye on brakes, do a pre-check before driving out. Still, well kept brakes might fail you, which is why horse MUST be solid, willing to stop the vehicle with breeching as LF said. Just part of horse driving, mechanics can fail you when you least expect it.

                        If you think a brake option is something you will use as a tool now and again, get it on the cart. If you plan to stop the cart with brakes, don't bother ordering this option. Better to learn driving without brakes as a mind-crutch to "fall back on", because you will get hurt thinking they will save you.


                        • #13
                          A whip can be used by an idiot to abuse or a horse...or by an intelligent driver to give his horse clearer aids.

                          A set of German spurs can dig holes in a horse's side when the rider's legs are sloppy...or give more precise aids to a well trained (or recalcitrant) horse.

                          Brakes, when used by someone who hasn't a clue can makes things worse....

                          But they aren't "gimmicks", no more than a bucking strap or blinkers are. They can be a safety item, e.g. when the road is wet and you wish to keep the weight off your horse's butt so he can walk more easily downhill. They can give your horse an easier time of it going downhill when pulling a heavier vehicle. If you stop they can take a load off the britching...and there's no reason why you shouldn't give the horse a break.

                          Brakes are a tool to be used when appropriate, and not when inappropriate. To totally decry their use is just as ignornat as the bleeding heart who says a whip is only cruel and should never be used....
                          "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


                          • #14
                            ^ I haven't seen where anyone suggested brakes were just a "gimmick".

                            Nor have I seen anyone totally decry their use.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by goodhors View Post

                              As mentioned, cart brakes can help the green horse on a downhill, some resent the pushing or get scared. Brakes can help hold the cart so he has less push, maybe can stop and rest for a few minutes on a steep or long downgrade. Green is learning, better to help him, than frighten him as he learns to manage weight behind.
                              On my 4 wheelers I always use the brakes to keep the weight off the horse/s going downhill.

                              Then when the person pushes the pedal, they get NO RESPONSE! You need to keep an eye on brakes, do a pre-check before driving out. Still, well kept brakes might fail you, which is why horse MUST be solid, willing to stop the vehicle with breeching as LF said. Just part of horse driving, mechanics can fail you when you least expect it.
                              Often drivers don't use britching with pairs when they're put to a 4 wheeler with brakes. I ALWAYS take a "belt and braces" approach and have britching AND brakes.

                              But then, I've got some serious hills!
                              Last edited by Thomas_1; Jan. 11, 2010, 03:18 AM.


                              • #16
                                no one ever said to stop a horse with the brakes

                                come on thomas...

                                no where was it ever said to stop a horse with the brakes or use the brakes for half halts....the brakes are used to keep the carriage from pushing the young, green horse or less powerful horse through your hand during the half halt. Obviously you would use brakes on a 2 wheel the same as you would on your 4 wheel.

                                here is the scenario...use the reins for a downward transition, horse responds, then carriage keeps going, horse has to use muscle to lower his haunches for the down transition and now even more muscle to stop the forward momentum of the carriage. with some horses, you may not notice anything, while others may toss their head or show some resistance. Why not set your self up for success and make your horse's job easier ?

                                The same goes for hills. Why not make your horse's life easier and help him hold the carriage back on the hills. Not lock up the brakes of course but like putting your truck in low gear down hills to hold back the trailer.

                                You are making it sound like with a 2 wheel the brakes are either on or off...you would use them just like your brakes on a 4 wheel.
                                Wendy Ying, DVM,CVA
                                Wysiwyg Sportcobs & 5 Elements for Animals


                                • #17
                                  ^ I don't think so and would suggest you might want to again read the entirety of my postings here.

                                  Neither did I even imply that you thought brakes would stop the horse. In fact I wouldn't know what you thought, though from the level you're driving at I'd have hoped and anticipated that was never in your head. My comment re that was specifically in relation to a question from a novice and about "skidding"

                                  On the other hand though you absolutely asserted that in your opinion you'd NEVER buy one without brakes because they're so important for downward transitions.

                                  I merely started by saying that the reason I don't like brakes on 2 wheeler carriages was because with a 2 wheeler the carriage is more inclined to tip if they're applied even slightly incorrectly. Whilst you and I may well be advanced drivers, truth is, the majority aren't.

                                  It's a fact, not an opinion, to be kept at the forefront that braking on a 2 wheeler is intrinsically more likely to render the vehicle unstable and tip it. Even if you're the most advanced driver in the world this fact remains a fact because of simple engineering.

                                  I then expanded and presented an alternative view by explaining that a 2 wheeler carriage is ordinarily light and should (must!) be well balanced. Indeed for me personally there's an assumption that the horse is not going to find it uncomfortable or difficult and particularly not for doing the likes of dressage on a level surface.

                                  I also well know though that a lot of drivers who are in 2 wheelers are not advanced drivers and haven't had lessons and the experience of correctly using a brake on the vehicle. They should be aware that far from being "essential" brakes can be intrinsically a problem for many drivers and for most they're an unnecessary additional cost.

                                  I'd assert again, particularly if you have a well balanced, correctly fitted and appropriately sized and weighted 2 wheel vehicle and are driving dressage on the level that they're absolutely unnecessary and there's no evidence at all that they would contribute to higher scores at all, ever.

                                  Trust me I would personally NEVER use brakes on a 2 wheeler as I do on a 4 wheeler. There's a difference for sure when it comes to how you use them say going cross country at speed through hazards and in the context of competition that's what I presume you now mean. Pleasure driving, driven dressage for most with a 2 wheeler then brakes are an unnecessary additional expense. And believe me I could easily indulge people by telling them when they order a 2 wheel vehicle to pay me extra for brakes!

                                  Context of my response here was to original poster's questions and statements.

                                  What I took from the OP was:
                                  First vehicle purchase. Trying to find a 2nd hand vehicle. - Going to be MUCH harder and more expensive to find a 2nd hand carriage with brakes

                                  Was recommended 2 wheeler to reduce risk of jack knifing and tip up by first instructor - who presumably knows her ability and potential for getting it right..... or wrong

                                  Liked brakes but thought they were helpful for create drag for a forward horse. - so limited understanding and experience there.

                                  Wondering if brakes are a "must" - they're not.

                                  So Mandy, I don't know why you've taken what I said personally or thought it was aimed at you.

                                  It was nothing to do with you.


                                  • #18
                                    Two wheeled carts and brakes

                                    Trakehner said it best, brakes are a tool and a versatile tool as well. In general we try to not be in a position to need this tool however when properly applied they can be invaluable and are not generally dangerous to the horse as it relates to increased back pressure or to the driving "package" in the forms of wrecks.

                                    When dealing exclusively with mini's as I have done for many years this tool can be even more invaluable. Our first offering to this market featured mechanical brakes when nobody else was doing it. Except for one rig everything we have ever done has brakes and I would never consider a new design without an integrally designed brake system. "To my knowledge" I've never had a rig wreck as a result of applying mechanical brakes either properly or improperly.

                                    At the end of the day, you don't have to use mechanical brakes just because the rig has them. However if ever needed for whatever reason, they could be invaluable and save the driving "package" FROM a wreck. And yes I've seen that happen NUMEROUS times over the years.

                                    Applying the tool properly is the key.

                                    Robert Graham