Beginner cart recommendations

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fourhorses

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My little Moonie is getting ready to go into training. May I ask what cart is recommended? We won't be showing, just driving around the farm.....for now anyway.
 

JourneysEnd

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Depends on what you want to spend.

You can do an easy entry with wooden shafts for around $500, metal shafts a little cheaper. I like the wood a lot better.

You can also show in an easy entry cart. Only problem I have with them in their tendency to flip in a tight turn which you handle by always remembering to lean into the turn.

You can put solid rubber inserts into the tires for driving cross country.

Leia mentioned in a prior thread the Jerald open-wheeled A cart was the most versatile and it's certainly one of my favorites. Problem is big price. You're looking at a good $1,600 up.
 

WLS

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We have an easy entry cart for just hacking around the back yard. It has wire spoke wheels and metal shafts and we have had years of enjoyment with it. It has a bench seat with a back, excellent for taking guests for a ride. I think you can purchase a used one for a couple hundred dollars. have fun........Wendy
 

hobbyhorse23

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An open-wheeled show cart is the most versatile for competing in a variety of driving events offered by different organizations with different standards but if all you're going to do is drive around for fun then I'd definitely go with a Frontier or similar brand easy entry cart. They're easy-care, easy-clean, and easy-on-the-budget! I still need to get myself a Frontier when I succeed in selling a couple of my older carts. Some of my others are fancy enough that I hate driving them through the mud and there are times I'd like to be able to take passengers, something I can't do in my wonderfully mud-proof Hyperbike.


Leia
 

fourhorses

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Thanks so much for the replies.

Do you prefer wooden shafts or metal shafts? Visually I like the wooden shafts but trainer says that metal are better if Moonie would act up as they would bend and wooden would break.

I had thought about going to Superior Sulky because they are not too far away but trainer said no - they are junk.

I like the look of wooden slats but what he will be trained in has more of a metal grate - so sorry I don't know the terms - newbie driver here!

I ordered him a harness and I was told I needed a bitting rig (hope to find that at Equine Affaire).

The talk of wheels has me all confused! Looks like I'll be going to McCabes driving clinic to learn the pieces of harness & cart from Connie Ballard who is giving the presentation. To not go would be a mistake for me!
 

JourneysEnd

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Thanks so much for the replies.

Do you prefer wooden shafts or metal shafts? Visually I like the wooden shafts but trainer says that metal are better if Moonie would act up as they would bend and wooden would break.
I've never seen the wooden ones break, have seen the metal break on several carts and they don't seem to bend, they break. One cut a client horse's leg up pretty good. He had run away with the cart.

I've had my Jerald cart sitting up in the back of the truck and forgotten how tall it is. I've taken out the overhang roof at the bank with the shafts. Destroyed the roof, the shafts are fine.

Took out part of a McDonalds overhang, same story. The wooden ones are also easier to replace if you do have a problem. The metal can be fixed, but it's never the same.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth.

Forgot - I was training with my wooden shaft easy entry and did that STUPID thing mini people do, ground driving behind the cart. Horse spooked, got a way from me, flipped the cart sideways, tore the seat off, flipped it back up, dug the shafts in the ground and pulled the traces free. Still did not break the shafts. So they are really tough.
 
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hobbyhorse23

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Do you prefer wooden shafts or metal shafts? Visually I like the wooden shafts but trainer says that metal are better if Moonie would act up as they would bend and wooden would break.
I had thought about going to Superior Sulky because they are not too far away but trainer said no - they are junk.

I like the look of wooden slats but what he will be trained in has more of a metal grate - so sorry I don't know the terms - newbie driver here!

I ordered him a harness and I was told I needed a bitting rig (hope to find that at Equine Affaire).

The talk of wheels has me all confused! Looks like I'll be going to McCabes driving clinic to learn the pieces of harness & cart from Connie Ballard who is giving the presentation. To not go would be a mistake for me!
You've got quite the opinionated trainer there! :DOH! Just remember that there's more than one way to do things and a lot of mini trainers do things that the wider driving world would frown on as being unsafe or ridiculous. If something your trainer says doesn't seem right, ask someone else what their opinion is. Trainers Are Not God.


If by "bitting rig" he or she means a surcingle with crupper, bridle with check and side reins then there are quite a few of us who would disagree that such a contraption is necessary. On the other hand it is nice to have an open bridle (that's one without blinkers so the horse can see you and understand what you're doing) and a surcingle to run the lines through and that can be called a bitting rig too.

Superior Sulky is a decent company from what I've heard here although I've never seen one. I prefer a cart with a metal floor grate just because dirt falls through it so easily and I always feel guilty about getting a nice wooden floor all mucky (silly, I know
). I'd say it's also lighter than wooden slats but it really depends on the manufacturer and the individual cart. A Frontier for instance is quite nice and light but I've seen and owned metal carts that looked the same but were VERY heavy. Same thing with wood- some of the clunkiest looking carts are actually quite light because of the kind of wood used. It's impossible to tell from pictures!

Your trainer is theoretically right about metal shafts versus wooden but as JourneysEnd pointed out, what a big horse can easily break may not give for a mini. And that metal shaft will always be weaker where it's been bent back into place so it's a good idea to replace ANY damaged shaft no matter what the material is. Wooden shafts may be kinder on your tugs (the loop you slide the shaft through on the harness) as they are wider and won't stretch it down but your cart really should be balanced so there's no weight on the harness anyway. Metal shafts are narrower and therefore tend to allow more clearance for the horse's sides which can make them more comfortable. I've seen quite a few straight wooden shafts that contribute to a strong feeling of entrapment for the horse because there is nowhere for the horse to move that they aren't hitting the shaft in some way. Sure, they learn that they have to keep their body straight and sidestep to turn the cart, but it's a scary process and not comfortable for the horse at any point. I want my wooden shafts wide around the horse's hips, curving in to be close to the saddle then turning out again away from the horse's shoulders. Metal shafts I don't worry as much because they're so much finer and as I said don't seem to crowd the horse as much. It's really a judgment call- everybody has a preference for one or the other based on aesthetics or personal experience and that's fine. Both work. I personally would prefer to train in a metal training cart then move up to something nice and wooden once the horse is finished and less likely to kick or otherwise trash it.

Good luck with the whole venture and I think you'll find driving is really quite fun. Go to clinics, learn from as many people as you can, and get some lessons driving an experienced horse before you hop behind your own.

Enjoy!

Leia
 

garyo

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We have four carts, an Alpine Manufacturing easy entry, a Kayjay easy entry, a Boinky show cart and a Jerald Show cart. My favorite of all of them is the Alpine Manufacturing cart. It is a little big (fits our 36" mare well) but it feels like you are sitting on a couch. The ride is smooth and stable, the seat is big and comfortable, and all of the parts appear to be very good in quality. I especially like the hardware that attaches the singletree to the cart and the suspension system. We got ours from Double Diamond but I think they are about $600.
 

sfmini

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First, the Superior Sulky carts are not junk, ours is a 1985 or maybe older model, had terrible care and is still going, not strong, needs a new seat and is beat up, but still a sound cart. BUT!! He is slower than the slowest you could imagine, is hard to work with, and sometimes has been known to sell the cart out from under you if someone is standing there with money in hand. Nice guy but man!! :DOH! His priority is and always has been his Standardbred racehorses. His wife and employees usually get stuck with events like Equine Affaire. I remember back in 1994, I worked with him to get a harness fitted just right for a mini, this was at the AMHA nationals here in Columbus. When I went to get it, he had sold it. Gee, sorry, I'll upgrade it for you. Well, ok, but you know, all the sizing was not right, it was a mess. I could go on with stories about him but I won't.

I have two Frontier Easy Entry carts, they also hold up well, my only beef with them is I have very long legs and after three knee surgeries, it is kind of cramped after an hour or so on the trail. So, I invested in a Pacific Smart Cart, nice, but very expensive.

Since you are going to Equine Affaire, the ONLY tack supplier of mini tack that will be there is Star Lakes Tack. She is a good and honest person, does loads of driving and sells a very nice bitting rig, along with the easy entry carts, show carts, and harness along with just about everything else you would need for a mini.

I'll be there on Saturday for the breed demo and fantasia.

Happy shopping!
 

JourneysEnd

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You've got quite the opinionated trainer there! :DOH! Just remember that there's more than one way to do things and a lot of mini trainers do things that the wider driving world would frown on as being unsafe or ridiculous. If something your trainer says doesn't seem right, ask someone else what their opinion is. Trainers Are Not God.


Enjoy!

Leia

Amen to that Leia. Even John Lyons is not 100 % correct 100 % of the time.
 

Katiean

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You can get an all metal easy entry cart for around $200. Then you can spend another $80 repairing it. I would go for a frontier or something of that nature if you are just running about your streets and fields. Then I would invest in some Kevlar tires. I know they are for MT. bikes but I tried two ways. I bought a kevlar tire and a regular tube. Then I bought a regular tire and a kevlar tube. I guess what would work best is just use kevlar but the kevlar tire with the regular tube didn't fail at all.
 

fourhorses

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Thanks so much for the info. I'll be at EA on Friday & Sat. so will not miss the breed demo.


My main concern is my horse. He's so fun and I want to keep him that way. No twisted wires, no locked headset, no forceful training OR fear-based - there is one around here that does things that way and wins like crazy but it wouldn't for me or my horse. My horse is so enthusiastic about everything and again, I want to keep him that way. He's also a bit hyper and will need patience & kindness.

The trainer would never force me to buy a certain cart or I'd have to leave. And by reading about the different styles the lighter the better.

I am also a bit anxious about him being away from home. He's used to sharing a stall, t/o, etc. and it's going to be culture shock for him.
He's a bit spoiled. The trainer I'm thinking of is so close and I could check on him often.

My first choice would have been Connie Ballard. She's near me be but sadly isn't training any but her own. Good for her but bad for me! The first time I ever met her was at the Darke County Fair and she had hitched up Dandy and he was so excited about his job. He hit the doorway of the barn & outside and stopped dead in his tracks for a moment as if saying WOW!!! Connie just laughed heartily about it, gave him a minute to absorb the situation and off they went relaxed as could be. That's what I look for.

The bitting rig that was shown to me had a lot of leather & hardware, much more than the regular harness. It also had side reins. I know even with my horse not ever being hitched he ain't going to like too much restraint.
 
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JourneysEnd

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You can get an all metal easy entry cart for around $200. Then you can spend another $80 repairing it. I would go for a frontier or something of that nature if you are just running about your streets and fields. Then I would invest in some Kevlar tires. I know they are for MT. bikes but I tried two ways. I bought a kevlar tire and a regular tube. Then I bought a regular tire and a kevlar tube. I guess what would work best is just use kevlar but the kevlar tire with the regular tube didn't fail at all.
Never thought about that. Thanks for the info !
 

fourhorses

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I didn't know there were so many choices in carts! And then the option of seat colors, etc. It's more overwhelming than searching for a dressage saddle. Thanks so much for all your opinions and if my trainer seems to have set ones that don't work for me then I'm sure we'll be able to work it out. She's seems like a great gal.

I'll have a look at them all, including Superior. I'm just a few miles from Farmersville and I've always enjoyed talking to the man at EA. I swear he recognizes my husband & I every year we visit.

I so hope Moonie enjoys driving! I'm looking forward to the clinic at the end of the month and then your big show in Springfield at the end of May.
 

fourhorses

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Oops, forgot to add that I'm about 5'2 and hubby is 6'2. Would that make a difference in the choice you would prefer or are they all measured the same?

Do you think lighter is better? Is their such a thing?

Thanks so much,

Kristie & Moonie
 

hobbyhorse23

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Lighter is ALWAYS better with a mini, no questions asked. Big carriage horses as a general guideline aren't asked to pull more than 50% of their own weight...minis routinely pull 100-150% of their weight! So the less your equipment weighs, the easier time the horse will have pulling you around. Make it as easy on them as you can!

Your husband is unfortunately going to feel a bit squished in most mini carts. You can have a cart custom ordered eventually but that's something you're really better off waiting on until you have more experience and know what you like, what the horse likes, and what's out there. Just remind your hubby not to slouch no matter how ridiculous he feels and keep driving!


I've been where you are and the best advice I can give you is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don't buy a fancy cart, don't worry about a million options, start with a tried-and-true training cart like a Frontier and learn to drive first. Your preferences will change after you've gotten more experience and that's the time to start making a list of what you'd like in a new cart and start shopping around. I truly mean this, I've gone through it myself and watched lots of my driving friends go through the process too and they've all said they wished they'd started simple and learned before buying. Heck, I'm going to go BACK and buy a Frontier for goofing off in and I've got five other carts floating around here from all my experimenting!
Easy entry carts like that are easy to sell for just about what you paid so upgrading is easy.

Oh, and as for seat colors? Black never clashes! *LOL*

Leia
 

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