Help with Figuring Out/Harnessing To Vintage Sulky

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So I am not truly a mini horse person - I'm actually (or at least I was initially) mostly interested in dog driving with my Newfoundland, however I work at stable with a pair of Shetlands who are trained to drive. I've just purchased an old cart on eBay (pics attached) with the intention of being able to use it both with these minis and and with dogs, if possible.

I believe this is a miniature horse cart, or possibly a goat cart. I am familiar with how dog carts work, but the set-up on this is different and is confusing me a bit, so I thought maybe you horse people might be able to help me figure this out...

The cart is custom made and the person who sold it doesn't know anything about where it originally came from or how it was used.

My questions:
There doesn't appear to be a swingletree, nor any obvious point to attach the traces. Will I need to install one in order to drive? Can the animal pull with just the shafts? (I assume not?!) I mean, I could tie traces to the, um, 'foot rest' part under the seat, but that seems non-ideal.

There are some loops and things near the ends of the shafts. I think one set may be the footman's loops/breeching D? Does this seem right?

It also has a chain across the shafts. Is this intended to go over the horse's back, on a special saddle? (The only pic I could find of a chain like this was on a draught horse!) Is this why it doesn't have a swingletree?

Are these shafts on upside down? This is how the seller had them attached, but they are easy to switch around.

Apologies for my ignorance and thank you to anyone who attempts to help me out here!
 

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Dragon Hill

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Well, that certainly is an interesting cart. I've never seen anything like it. The only thing I can tell you for certain is it doesn't have any suspension and with those metal wheels, you are in for a rough ride. To me it looks more decorative than functional, but I am not well versed in vintage carriages.
 

MaryFlora

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Hello and don’t apologize for not knowing! ;) I have a really long list of topics on which I know little or nothing about!

I agree with Dragon Hill, it definitely seems more decorative than useful. I do have a few questions, are the wheels iron? Is the cart heavy? Also, how are the shafts attached? Are they firmly locked into place when attached? Also, I’ve never seen a chain over or under a horse, of any size. The questions don’t help you I know!

Will be interesting to hear what the more experienced drivers can share with you!

Your purchase could be an interesting project!
 
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Well, that certainly is an interesting cart. I've never seen anything like it. The only thing I can tell you for certain is it doesn't have any suspension and with those metal wheels, you are in for a rough ride. To me it looks more decorative than functional, but I am not well versed in vintage carriages.
Agreed - the former owner described it as a 'ceremonial' cart. The wheels are unusual even to my inexperienced eyes!

I do have a few questions, are the wheels iron? Is the cart heavy? Also, how are the shafts attached? Are they firmly locked into place when attached? Also, I’ve never seen a chain over or under a horse, of any size. The questions don’t help you I know!

I think the wheels are iron, yes. I was thinking they could possibly be replaced with pneumatic or solid rubber ones? Though it's a pity as they are pretty with the wrought iron work in them. Perhaps a tyre could be fitted around the metal? But I suspect it is hard to find that sort of thing in the right size.

It's not too heavy I think, but I have never been around 'proper' pony carts so I don't really have anything to compare it to. It rolls.

The shafts are attached as in the pic below, and when screwed down they lock into place.

I found this picture of a chain used over a draught horse on a cart and wondered if the chain in this sulky was for a similar purpose - but I still don't understand why this chain would be used and it seems a bit pointless? https://smallfarmersjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/sfj_the_tip_cart_03.jpg
Found on this site with more pics, where it is described as a 'back chain': The Tip Cart - Small Farmer's Journal

I think it would be nice if I could find a way to adapt this to make it a functional and comfortable ride, while keeping the nice details. I wouldn't want to do massive journeys in it, just loop around a field or go down to the corner shop maybe. Unfortunately I lack experience in setting these things up, so any suggestions on how to adapt or improve it are welcome.

I have attached a picture of my dog in harness - any suggestions on how to make this cart work with a harness like this would be helpful. It has shaft loops and trace attachments like a horse harness.
 

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Standards Equine

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Well I bet it was sure pretty in its day, I worry about the soundness of the seat. To me, it looks like the shafts are upside down in the picture with the chain. I believe the chain is attached to the footman's loops, which actually go on the under side of the poles. Yes, a single tree (or swingle tree depending on the set up of your traces) will need to be installed. It does not appear that there is a hole to accommodate installation of one, however. I agree with you, likely a goat cart to begin with.
Please be careful when hitching to it. I would also be concerned that there isn't enough space/clearance for the pony's hind legs and they might connect with the front of your cart.
Thank you very much for sharing your find! I'm fairly new to driving myself but I appreciate the opportunity to learn something different!
Best wishes!
 
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Well I bet it was sure pretty in its day, I worry about the soundness of the seat. To me, it looks like the shafts are upside down in the picture with the chain. I believe the chain is attached to the footman's loops, which actually go on the under side of the poles. Yes, a single tree (or swingle tree depending on the set up of your traces) will need to be installed. It does not appear that there is a hole to accommodate installation of one, however. I agree with you, likely a goat cart to begin with.
Please be careful when hitching to it. I would also be concerned that there isn't enough space/clearance for the pony's hind legs and they might connect with the front of your cart.
Thank you very much for sharing your find! I'm fairly new to driving myself but I appreciate the opportunity to learn something different!
Best wishes!

I'm not too worried about the state of the seat or anything, since my partner can weld and we are both pretty good at woodwork, so if it needs replacing or repairing then it's not too bad. Think you are right - shafts are definitely on upside down. The chain is welded onto those loops. Not that that means it's in the right place, though, or even that it belongs with this cart originally. I think it may need grinding off.

You're correct - there's no hole for a swingle tree, nor any hooks or seemingly anything to take traces at all...

Maybe it is intended for a goat. It is very small! I will have to compare it to the size of the shetlands and see.
 

Marsha Cassada

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Sulkies don't have single trees. They are designed for straight driving. Mine is attached on the saddle. The balance is different than a cart. Not to say your vehicle is like my sulky, though.
 

MindySchroder

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I personally would not hitch this to any animal. But it sure is a neat cart!!

To answer your questions: No you do not want to hitch up to a cart without a single tree. Over time you will end up with a sore pony.

I can't tell but it looks like it does not have an axel. Finding a pneumatic wheel that will fit the "hub" you have there may be very difficult. I would think switching to the pneumatic wheels would be helpful as the ride in it as is would be quite uncomfortable.

It looks kind of like a wheel chair doesn't it!?
 
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Sulkies don't have single trees. They are designed for straight driving. Mine is attached on the saddle. The balance is different than a cart. Not to say your vehicle is like my sulky, though.

Thanks, I didn't know that! Maybe sulky is the wrong word since it doesn't really look like any other sulky I have seen.
 
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I personally would not hitch this to any animal. But it sure is a neat cart!!

To answer your questions: No you do not want to hitch up to a cart without a single tree. Over time you will end up with a sore pony.

I can't tell but it looks like it does not have an axel. Finding a pneumatic wheel that will fit the "hub" you have there may be very difficult. I would think switching to the pneumatic wheels would be helpful as the ride in it as is would be quite uncomfortable.

It looks kind of like a wheel chair doesn't it!?

Why would you not use it? We are planning to refurbish and improve it wherever possible, so would like some insight on how it could be improved.

It does have an axel. It's hard to see in the pics. Will definitely look into replacing the wheels if possible.

It does kind of like a wheelchair or something for a pony or goat to pull children or an invalid around the garden. Someone has welded it together with a lot of care.
 

Silver City Heritage Farmstead

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It looks kind of like a wheel chair doesn't it!?
That was my first thought as well Mindy.

fiftyempirecountry, what part of the world are you in? Europe? Australia? I ask because if so, you may have access to historical resources we haven't in the United States. Also, you may be talking about British shetlands, which are much sturdier than most of our show-type specimens. They may be more like a draft-type miniature in size and build. If Australia...I can't begin to guess!😆

I agree with what's been posted so far, and have no more suggestions. It looks very antique. I'll be following with interest to see what you finally decide upon for this unique transport.

Before I close, that's a lovely draft canine you have! Is he/she a Newfoundland? I'm not sure, as the build is a little different than the show Newfies I handled, the coat seems a bit different, and the tan points I don't recognize.
 
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That was my first thought as well Mindy.

fiftyempirecountry, what part of the world are you in? Europe? Australia? I ask because if so, you may have access to historical resources we haven't in the United States. Also, you may be talking about British shetlands, which are much sturdier than most of our show-type specimens. They may be more like a draft-type miniature in size and build. If Australia...I can't begin to guess!😆

I agree with what's been posted so far, and have no more suggestions. It looks very antique. I'll be following with interest to see what you finally decide upon for this unique transport.

Before I close, that's a lovely draft canine you have! Is he/she a Newfoundland? I'm not sure, as the build is a little different than the show Newfies I handled, the coat seems a bit different, and the tan points I don't recognize.

Ahh, okay - I am in the UK. So yes, when I say Shetland I mean our native little chunky dudes like this!:
shettie3.jpg
As opposed to:
shettie2.jpg
I actually did not know the American ones were totally different animals and I am amazed! You learn something every day!

Ours are definitely more like mini draft horses . Extremely strong and tough and will live happily outside in all weathers.

My dog is mostly Newfoundland (3/4) and 1/4 Bernese Mountain dog, which is where she gets the tan points from and maybe why her fur is slightly curlier (though it's growing longer and longer). I think our UK Newfs tend to be a little less heavily set than the ones over in the States as well (opposite of our Shetlands I guess). She is a surprisingly athletic dog... both breeds in her have cart-pulling in their genes and she took to it with great zeal. She's also an excellent swimmer and will pull a boat in the water using the same commands. We try to give her appropriate 'work' to do, as a working breed mix, to fulfill her instinctive drives, much like a collie is born to herd and huskies love to run, etc., which is why I got into this whole cart driving thing in the first place.
 

Marsha Cassada

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I like that you hope to give your dog some work to do. I think it is a good thing to give dogs a job they were bred for. My rat terrier never grinned as big as when he showed me a dead rodent--job well done!
Hope you get that rig figured out. It is so ornate.
 
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I like that you hope to give your dog some work to do. I think it is a good thing to give dogs a job they were bred for. My rat terrier never grinned as big as when he showed me a dead rodent--job well done!
Hope you get that rig figured out. It is so ornate.

Thanks, I will come back and post pics if we get it working!
 

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