Team Driving with Easy Entry Cart - Help Needed!!

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StardustandBreezysMom

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I am hoping someone experienced with Team Driving with an Easy Entry Cart with a Center Pole can help! Tonight we hooked our two 32 inch mini mares double for the first time to our Easy Entry Cart. We ordered a harness conversion kit to use with their single driving harnesses and a team pole for our easy entry cart. Their seemed to be a lot of pressure on the strap that goes over their mane above the withers. Our thought is that it was from the weight of the team pole. Also, our pole seemed too long so we are going to shorten it and see if this helps with the pressure/weight. Has anyone else had experience with the easy entry cart being used for a team and what can I do to release the pressure on the neck? Should the length of the center pole be the same as your shaft length when you drive single? Is it better to use a collar and can you use a collar with a single harness or do I have to purchase team harnesses? I just want my girls to be comfortable. Thank you!

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Minimor

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Most of us avoid using a 2 wheel cart to drive a pair because 1) there is that tendency to have too much weight on the horses' necks. It is the nature of a 2 wheel cart to tip the weight forward onto the horse any time the driver or passenger leans forward, or if either stands up (as in getting into/out of the the cart)-- or if the cart is not well balanced to start with. With a single horse this weight is on the back, cushioned with a somewhat wider saddle. With a pair, this weight is on the neck strap. 2) this pair set up on a 2 wheel cart makes that cart very unstable, and it will tip much too easily.

That said--the longer/heavier the pole the more weight there will be on the horse. Make sure that your cart is balanced just right, so that when you are seated there is little or no weight being transferred to the horses. Make sure you sit properly--do not lean forward and do not have anything for weight (dog passenger for instance) on the floor of the basket. Keep in mind the best way to keep your horses comfortable is to find a 4 wheel vehicle to drive them on as a pair.
 

BSharpRanch

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You can move the seat back over the axel to better balance the cart. Not too far back as that can raise the pole upward into their faces if the straps are too loose.

I have a custom built team cart for showing obstacle class. I show with neck collars which give a bigger surface for carrying the pole. My cart is perfectly balanced so that my pair is basicly just carrying the weight of the pole and neck yoke.

I agree that a four wheel vehicle is a better choice with a pair, but sometimes our play budget dictates what we can do.

you have a cute team!
 

StardustandBreezysMom

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Thank you both! That's what I thought! I think I will hold off on making any more adjustments to the 2 wheel cart and save up for a 4 wheel cart and proper harnesses (collars). We really enjoy driving single and I thought that if we could easily adjust our equipment to also drive double, that it would be fun and affordable. Now, where do you recommend finding a 4 wheel wagon and what is a nice light weight wagon? Wood or fiberglass or metal? I really like the Wagonette style with a front seat and two side seats. My mini's around around 32 inches and I don't want to over weight them or discourage them? Any hints, tips and purchase locations would be great so that I don't make the mistake of a wrong purchase again! Thanks! I should also mention that we drive a lot on our dirt roads and community trails so I don't like the wagons with the very tiny tires.
 
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paintponylvr

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Here are some different style wagons -

Sunrise pony farm

She is also pretty well versed in how to use a team with an ez entry cart since they produce such... A silver penny farm (wagons)

Nikki's Pony Express (carts & Wagons)

Shady Lane Wagons

Driving Essentials

That's a start. I think I had 20 links I went out to that are no longer active including a couple of big name places I didn't expect to see 'out of business'.

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As to the type of cart that you have and how to balance it, all I can say is it is difficult. Even if you had the marathon style harness - w/ heavier, thicker straps for the breast strap and over the neck or buggy style collar/hames or work collar/hames, the weight of the cart would still be on their necks. I may be wrong, but I was thinking it would work better moving the wheels/axle forward... oh well.

I drive a much heavier cart meant to have equipment attached. It is 2 wheel (called a Fore Cart and this one is made by Pioneer Manufacturing out of OH) and when nothing is attached to it, I have to really watch the weight as it is not balanced to be a pair working vehicle and can get extremely heavy on their necks. This one is not mini or even small pony sized, but sized for Hafflingers. I kinda wish now that I'd gone the small pony size, but... I don't think it would be wise to attach anything smaller than 40" at the withers to this particular "cart".





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Not sure who you got your conversion kit from - but did it come with the straps to make your breeching work as a brake? With quarter straps, pole strap and neck strap of some sort? If not, you have no brakes at all with this arrangement. You don't want to go down any hills - as your pair have no way of keeping the speed regulated on this vehicle or of stopping it from speed on a flat, non-resistant surface - pavement, packed gravel road etc).

I've been really sick, still am and I'm falling asleep trying to work out what I want to write. So... I'm going to sign off for now and write more later. Hope that is ok? I do have some clear pics of an ez entry cart an acquaintance was driving w/ his minis and can critique them for you later, too....
 

BSharpRanch

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This is my custom team cart that my Hubby made for me so that I can show at the breed shows in driven obstacle with my pair. I use it with neck collars for the comfort of my horses and I like the looks of collars. ;-)

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BSharpRanch

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Here's what I have for four wheelers, only one of which is suitable for passengers, that is the Heartwood. It seats two and has springs for a comfy ride. The hitch wagon seats two, but is not something to go down the road in as this one has no springs. And the cute blue big horse show buggy converted to use with the minis is a blast to drive, but it is a single seater.

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paintponylvr

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BSharp - It looks like the cart your hubby made for you is similar to the forecart. The difference between both yours, mine and the OP's (IMO??) is that ours both have the tongue situated much closer to the axle - balancing the weight of the cart much easier than where the tongue is "attached" on the OP's cart.

Am I correct?

StardustandBreezey's mom- As I mentioned in my 1st post, the Fore Cart was made to have equipment towed behind it (for farming). That "balances" them and pulls them up/back more and also stabilizes the tongue (won't flip up if more weight added to the cart since it's either adding solid weight drug on the ground or an extra set of wheels). What I have seen done to balance a forecart for training is a couple of things - 1 - the forecart has a hitch attachment that a basket can be attached to and weight added. This can balance the tongue more upwards and "pull" some of the weight off of the necks. 2 - Tie weights to the back of the cart - but put the tie over the top of the seat rest so that the cart is pulled up/back. Neither of these options will stabilize the tongue though - it can become "too light" and flip up.

Having the tongue "flip up" can be bad - 1 - w/ your lighter weight harness, it could snap pieces (not saying it will) and 2 - it's quite annoying and also really interrupts communication/concentration between you and your team. If it also "scares you" (and it scared the "bejeebers" out of me to have that happen - I have a tendency to "freak out"), it will upset your communication/nerves w/ your team. That will transmit thru the lines to them. Of course, for training purposes, it's not bad to have your team (and you) learn to work thru such a situation. Preparation for the worst, so to speak


So, between now and when you are able to get different arrangements, you could try a couple of things.

You could go ahead and try tying some weight on to the back of your cart so that you can work with your team. Learn where to position your own body (while driving) to keep the cart properly balanced (usually a good cart will be balanced for "float" in the shafts when it's built). That makes you an active driver and a better partner overall.

You could see if you could add a wheeled wagon of some sort (you want pretty heavy duty) to pull that will help to balance your cart - again - up and back. On the forecart, the hitch pin area is level with the rear end of the tongue and the hitch attachment (receiver type - like on a truck) is lower - under the bed/floor of the cart. I'm not really the mechanical type - I'm not sure how to attach something like this to help you (where it should be attached. The strongest point is going to be the axle/frame of the cart but not sure that would help your situation.

? for you - If your cart is sitting where the tongue is actually level - where is it in relation to your horses? Is it above the breast collars? Below the breast collars or level w/ them and the traces?

Here are some pics of my girlfriend using her Fore Cart w/ "farm equipment" (sized for ATVs or lawn mowers). Her's is pony sized, so a bit smaller/lighter than mine.

I don't have a close up of her attachment. It does help to stabilize the cart - though with the lighter weight towbar on the "wagon" the cart could tip back and bend it... It hasn't thus far.

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The disk is actually two garden disks attached to each other. This can be pulled on one side with the 2 horse evener attached directly to the tow bar (driver walks on the ground) OR attachd to the Fore Cart from the other side with the ball hitch they have attached.

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This is a homemade drag made from a 2x4 frame and chain link fencing. It breaks up manure in her pastures.

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paintponylvr

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And here is a much larger/heavier bit of equipment - a springtooth harrow and crumbler attachment. I purchased it to be pulled more as a ground driving piece (remember my forecart is larger/heavier than Vicki's) AND to work with a 3 or even a 4 abreast hitch...

The deal was that Vicki would borrow it and put it together (her mech of a husband and BIL had it done in about 2 hours!) and she'd get to use it first in her pastures... At the moment, she still has it - simply because the darn thing is not so easy to transport now that it's together and I haven't had a team ready to use it so... It's in good hands at the moment.

She used it behind her forecart and her ponies worked their bums off to pull it! W/ the forecart, I really feel that it needs to have a 3 abreast team. We MAY get that put together this year, may not. Things are a bit interesting again for Vicki and I -physically and healthwise'

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I did by the "cart seat" with the harrow - Vicki didn't like it. Remember how I said things can flip backwards? It feels like that when you get up on this seat. Mine is with just the single harrow attachment - this shows with two.

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and this shows with 3 harrows (ea individual one is wider than ours, too) and a 4 abreast team hitched...

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paintponylvr

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You could also put your team "to work" using your harness. Here are a couple of pics of the girls (my first pair) working w/ me ground driving them. They are wearing homemade breast collar harness in these shots. Yes, the traces are run thru the breeching rings here - breaking the line of draft. I'd gotten tired of them constantly stepping over the traces that I didn't have "proper" trace carriers for. It worked for the short time we did it.











 

BSharpRanch

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Yes Paula, the obstacle team cart is similar as far as pole attachment height. It is about 1/3 of the way up. We did a lot of trials as we built this cart to maximize compact with comfort for the horses. It seems to be better that the pole is just slightly uphill towards the horses chests rather then downhill. The draftline from collar to single tree is almost perfect, but draft looks really low in these photos because they were taken from the grandstand, looking down on the team.

I have used this cart with The Six also, and is it fun! Like driving a Farrari!
 

StardustandBreezysMom

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Wow! Thank you all for the great advice and photos. My mini's are around 32", how do I know what they can comfortably pull? It looks like the Sunrise Pony Farm has a nice buckboard that would most likely be the lightest? Also the bicycle types wheels like on BSharp's Blue Cart looks like it would be the easiest to pull and best for our backcountry dirt roads...just wish it had a passenger seat! Does anyone sell 4 wheel wagon kits? My husband and Dad are good woodworkers... I think I will give up on the two wheel easy entry cart for now...I will not give up on driving double though! I had a taste of it and it was a blast! Just want my horses to be comfortable and as happy as when they are driving single. I bought my easy entry team pole from Fairview County Sales in Ohio, as well as my harness conversion kits. I am in New England so I had them shipped up.
 

paintponylvr

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Hmm, I do a lot of business with Fairview country Sales. I've seen those carts in operation up there and they work pretty well. I wonder if yours is sized wrong for your size of horses? I saw them with 35", 38" and 42" ponies. The harness conversion kit - I don't know. Maybe the straps are based on the size of the horses? I don't really know. I decided after looking at the conversion sets in person, I'd go with a work harness from them (and now have 10 sets of collar/hame harness), 1 small pony pleasure harness and they've done parts for me for other pleasure harnesses...

If I remember right, they also have a wagon that your pair could pull easily.

There was a company in TN (I think) that did "kits". I'll see if I can find them...
 
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xrdh

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I, too, drive singles and want to drive a team. I, too, have an easy entry cart. I also just bought the team harness conversion kit, but mine attaches further back to the saddle, rather than the neck. Perhaps you could add some straps that would allow you to hang the weight of the poles from the saddle, rather than their necks.

I don't see the camera icon, or I would post a picture of how mine attaches. I bought it from Crosby's Carriage. The kit is listed under Pleasure Harness.

I'm now having a hard time ground driving my new team. They don't walk at the same pace and the colt keeps trying to rear up and play with his older team mate. If anyone knows of a video that shows how to correctly connect two horses to ground drive smoothly together, I'd love to see it.
 

paintponylvr

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xrdh -

Does your colt drive well single? If so, partially just needs more time. Check to see if your lines are hooked correctly so that they are the right length for driving a pair (the "stub line" should be the longer on the pair and goes to the horse on the opposite side - it's the "inside" rein).

Other than that - driving. I, too, have been dealing with that w/ both a 4 yr old gelding and a 4 yr old mare. Both drive well single. Both have had issues with driving as a pair. I found that if I take them out and work them individually first (pain in the rear end when you want to practice pair driving), they DID do better. I imagine I will have issues when I start working them together again... Last summer I did several posts on them working together - detailing what they were doing and what I did to work on fixing it... Hmm, I', not able to search out the posts that I did - they aren't going back that far...

Well, I can do this - Here's a video to them ground driving in March 2014. Hmm, it won't post like a picture... So I just posted the link.

Cupid and Ami ground drive 2

Here is a photo taken when I first started driving them that day. This was the 2nd or 3rd time Cupid had done this - and he always came down w/ something hooked in Ami's harness... I took them "apart", worked them 1 at a time for a while then put them "back together" and ground drove them... The video above was taken about 2 hours after the pic below.



Using my "breeching tie" as a "tie-down" worked wonders on Cupid. It made him stay "grounded" and ended almost all of his rearing. it's hooked from his halter to the ring on the breast strap behind his front legs (hooked to the quarter straps/breeching).





Then, in June, I experienced a similar problem w/ the opposite pony being "it". I have no idea, to this day, how she managed this (or how my pony friend Vicki got this pic)

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Turned out, she was totally "flipped out" by the sound of the metal evener/double tree dragging on the ground - especially over gravel and on pavement. Again we went back to working single and when she pulled the single tree quietly (that took a while - she'd try to buck and take off after only 2-3 strides when the metal hit the pavement in front of our driveway)... She was fine with a wood single tree when working by herself. I didn't drag a double tree (wood) with them. Eventually, we got to this point -



I think I only ground drove them as a pair a dozen times last year (of which I have 3 or 4 separate sets of pics), before things changed at our house. Since moving, none of our ponies have gone back into work... I'm hoping to get some driving in over Thanksgiving and then over Christmas. Maybe then I'll be able to continue from there.
 

paintponylvr

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Something else that I did while working a pair (and probably still will - since I have a herd of 20 ponies only about 6 of whom are "driving" as pairs) was I took a broken handle from a "pick" (dura fork) and made it about 20" long. Drilled holes on the end and put string thru each. Then I snapped the ends to their halters. It keeps them side by side while also keeping them apart. It does/can get "ugly" if they rear up, but they can't spin around like in the above post.

Maybe I better not say "CAN'T"...
 

paintponylvr

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We spent a lot of time with my first two pairs hooked together w/ breeching ties. The original breeching ties went all the way around the mare's haunches...





Also connected their heads together.



The "head tie" shown here



You can see both the breeching and head ties here...



and here they are reversed w/ Koalah on the left. Breeching tie and then hooked at the collars, rather than by heads.



Does this help?
 

xrdh

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Ah, yes, your photos look familiar. My guys didn't get that tangled up because I had their outside traces attached to one another across their butts. They couldn't swing their butts very far from one another.

I was wondering if some sort of tie down or martingale might help the rearing colt. Your britchen strap connection sounds like a great idea. My conversion kit crosses under their bellies and would be perfect to connect to.

My 4 year old mule drives well as a single, but he needs more miles, for sure. He's only been driving for about 5 months. A trainer just recently gave me some tips on ponying the colt from the cart to give him experience and confidence in the woods and other scary situations. He said to cross tie the colt behind the cart so he can't get his foot caught in the wheels, and tie him up short enough that he can't jump into the cart with me. I might try that for a month or two and see if he grows up a bit before connecting him to my wonderful driving pony again.

During our one team driving lesson, I yelled at the rearing/biting colt, and touched him lightly with the whip to get his attention, which caused my good pony to get scared and lurch forward. He never did calm back down. The pony is very sensitive and I never yell at him or touch him with the whip - I never have to! I think that if my husband, who was leading the pair as I was driving them, would have been more proactive and taken control of the misbehaving mule, then we may have had a more successful lesson. Next time we try it I will give him specific instructions to hold the naughty little mule down when he jumps up or bites my pony. Actually, the next time I try it, I will just lead them and get them used to walking in unison and bumping into each other.

Thank you, Paula, for your time and excellent advice. I will take it.
 

paintponylvr

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it's pretty amazing how they become a team with time... The original draft horse trainer I took lessons with from April thru November 2010 (1 lesson per week for sure - some weeks we had 2-3) - had us keeping the ponies in the same pasture together. Take them out (leading them) at the same time - next to each other. Tie them for grooming next to each other and feed them next to each other.

They learn to work together well, that way. I noticed a HUGE difference when I didn't do that (such as when I paired Ami & Cupid - who were in separate pastures for living and feeding)...

Here are some pics of this pair - I worked Cassie (bay spot) with both Bell and Bit. Didn't last long with Bell - whom she just didn't get along with. Switched to Bell's sister Bit and they did much better. And sometimes it was more than just plenty of days added together but also hours and "wet harness" (doesn't work/look/sound the same as "wet saddle blankets"...) in one session...













That last pic we had hauled down to SC to do a drive w/ our group of Draft Horse peeps... That drive ended up being 5 straight hours of driving. Neither Bit nor Cassie were in shape for that type of drive (nor was I
), but when the 3 of us got over the general soreness a couple of days later - WOW - their driving ability as a team was "cemented" and sooooo much better!! I drove them off and on the rest of the summer, but Cassie had a bunch of issues that just never really got better.

When I was offered a sales agreement I could live with, she moved on. Her 1/2 sister that I replaced her with is much larger than my other mares and has not yet been started in harness. I have her daughter and hope by next summer to have them both in harness and working as a pair and maybe as a 3 abreast hitch with a 1/2 shetland mare that I also have (who is driving single but very green).
 
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