Having second thoughts on my choice of cart & harness? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-28-2013, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Having second thoughts on my choice of cart & harness?

I'm quite new to driving, but my mare was trained to drive back in May, and I took lessons from the man that trained her, so I feel comfortable enough driving in an arena. Until I have more practice though, and until she has more exposure to different environments, I refuse to leave the arena. The last thing I want is to get in an accident! I did start taking lessons from a driving instructor, which is why I'm posting this thread.

Immediately after my mare came home from training, I bought a Meadowbrook cart (in very good condition, except for the end of one shaft), and the leather harness that came with the cart. The cart was $800, and the harness was only $150. Yes, it is real leather, not beta, and it is in excellent condition. The owner just wanted to get rid of it, really, as his wife was no longer interested in driving, and their mare was too old. I got the impression that both of these people took good care of their equipment, yet didn't use it very often. I got incredibly lucky, and it fits my mare very well. It doesn't rub anywhere, and she's never had a problem with it. The only problem I've had is that my mare has an odd-shaped head, so the bridle doesn't fit as well as it should. I'm going to commission a new one soon.

I was told by a friend (who has been driving for over 10 years at least) that a Meadowbrook would be a good first cart for me. I have attached pictures of my cart. The previous owner also gave me an extra pair of new shafts (unpainted and not yet drilled) and an extra pair of new fenders.



The issues with my choice in cart and harness only arose when I started taking lessons from a driving instructor. She participates in many shows, and I wanted to use her driving instruction as a precursor to my horse's dressage training. I explained that I didn't really have the money to show (for dressage or driving), so it wasn't in my plans. When I showed the instructor pictures of my cart and harness, she was very negative about using that type of cart, and basically told me I needed to trash the harness altogether. It turns out I didn't have the harness adjusted right in some places, but after a few pointers, it is now fitted as it should be. She didn't like the fact that my cart had a hydraulic brake, although I explained I only planned on using it to save my horse some energy if I had to stop on a hill during a parade or something like that. She told me that none of it would work, and that I needed to invest money in something better, like the smaller, metal body type of cart that she had (sorry, I'm still not good at identifying cart types!). I came away from the lesson feeling very disappointed, and started looking around, but I do not have the money to buy a new cart or harness at this time.

Does the instructor have a point, or am I just dealing with someone who's really "posh" in the driving world?
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-28-2013, 07:21 AM
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I would argue with your instructor about the brake, as I have used breaks on wagons and carts. I use it to help ease the transition down a hill or up a hill, when were in a parade to keep it steady, etc. Nothing wrong with one, just learn how to use it properly so not to inhibit your horse from doing it's job properly and you not getting in the way so to speak.

Carts, again...I personally do not like the meadowbrook, but because you enter from the back, I prefer entering from the side. Carts are easier to drive for someone just getting into the sport, they are fun, you can't get into as much trouble with them and are nice to learn on.

Your going to find, everyone has an opinion about everything. I would find a good harness that you can fit properly to your horse, what you like, being biothane, leather, or a mix. Where are you, maybe I can give you a few people's names.

Showing, look into local shows, they sometimes offer driving classes and the entry fee isn't too much, you may actually have some fun and the horse will get exposure to different sites and sounds. Maybe join a driving club as well, some great people with experience to learn and ask question and find some fun there.
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post #3 of 9 Old 12-28-2013, 08:41 AM
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What kind of shows does she do?

The mare in my avatar has been all over the US showing in most every KIND of show in a Meadwbrook. She won a Reserve National Championship at an Arabian Show in a Meadowbrook and a mis-matched set of harness. She placed well at the Pinto World show in a Meadowbrook, showing against stock horse Paints using Gerald carts. She won arena driving classes at local open shows. We have done ADS Pleasure Driving shows in a Meadowbrook.

I never competed in a CDE in a Meadowbrook, but there were certainly plenty of them that were.

As far as harness, with no picture, I cannot comment.

As far as brakes, I have never noticed them on a Meadowbrook....just don't get into the habit of using them...as long as you have properly adjusted breeching on your harness, they are not needed. Your horse will just pull the rubber off the wheels if you use them to "hold" the horse. The cart doesn't weigh enough for them to really be any use.

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post #4 of 9 Old 12-28-2013, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
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I actually looked for an easy-entry cart to begin with, but couldn't find one at a decent price. I'm not thrilled about having to get in through a back entrance, but I always have someone help hold my horse, so it hasn't been an issue yet.

Yes, I don't use the brake, but I thought having one was a nice option.
I live in Iowa, and we don't really have any local shows. All of the shows around here seem to be actual competitions, and I'm a bit embarrassed to participate until I feel completely comfortable driving. Maybe someday though!

I believe the instructor competes at Carriage Classic type shows, as well as CDE.
I don't have any pictures of the harness, unfortunately, but her main complaint was where it hooked up to the shafts and cart itself. It looks like a pleasure driving Smuckers harness, but I can't find a stamp or anything on it, so it may be a replicate version. I believe both the cart and harness were Amish made in Ohio, and that alone made her shudder. She didn't like Amish work.
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-28-2013, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
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your instructor sounds like a bit of a looney, LOL...

I could understand being nit picky about harness fit, cart fit, and the breaks, but, to trash your whole set up seems a bit excessive. Then to dis the Amish' work, that's crazy in itself. It sounds to me like you have more than everything you need to rock it!


your cart is lovely!

life has no remote control hitch them up and drive them your self

Last edited by Ashleysmardigrasgirl; 12-28-2013 at 12:17 PM.
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-28-2013, 12:47 PM
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Yes your instructor sounds like a snooty patooty!

The cart you have is a really nice cart. Hub-less wheels- very nice, Breaks - an added safety feature. extra shafts - wow!.

While you do need to enter from the rear of the cart, as long as you have a header you should be fine.

I competed in a CDE last year with a meadowbrook and had hubs on my wheels. The trail was very narrow and I did hit a tree or two or three, but I would go again in a heartbeat with hub-less wheels in training level.

To ask or even suggest that a beginning driver scrap perfectly good equipment to comply with what the trainer thinks is appropriate is ludicrous. That would be like my riding instructor on my second lesson dissing my old stubben and suggesting I get a Pasoa or better.

Iowa is a great driving community, There is a great show in Iowa City in June that is always looking for volunteers, I am going and could always use a header when I get in and out of the cart.

Use the trainer you have but don't let her bully you. You have great stuff!

That cart is very nice! You got a bargain too.
Love to see the harness!
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-28-2013, 12:50 PM
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The reason I got rid of my Meadowbrook was because it was too short for Pilgrims big butt, I couldn't see over the top of him.
If you have that problem you can get another cushion to raise you up higher.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-29-2013, 02:01 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Well, I'm glad that it seems like a good setup. I sort of jumped into this whole thing, and although I really like what I have (and enjoy driving it!), I wanted opinions from seasoned drivers. It's very frustrating when the only consultant you can find starts to discredit your entire setup. I'm just trying to get second opinions here, and I'm glad I have!

This particular trainer (I won't name any names, and I'd appreciate it if no one else did either!) charges a fortune for lessons, so I can't afford to take many, although she is very good. And she lives a few hours from me, so it's a haul to get over there.

Taffy - If you would like a header, I'd be glad to assist, as long as you showed me what to do! I think it'd be fun! My brother and his wife actually live in Iowa City, and I will gladly ask if they'd be willing to let you stay in their house. They have a beautiful little house/bungalow with a guest room, and they always welcome guests. There is limited parking, so you'd have to leave your trailer somewhere, but I'd be glad to drive you if needed. Shoot me a message if you're interested!

Below are pictures of my harness. I DO have pics of them ON the horse, but darned if I can find them right now! I took new pictures, but the quality is a little fuzzy. I decided to clean it up a bit earlier tonight, although that's very close to the condition they arrived in. For a 20-year-old cart and harness, they've been taken care of.

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post #9 of 9 Old 12-29-2013, 08:25 AM
Green Broke
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I appreciate a nice set-up & I think your Meadowbrook is lovely. I tried driving & it really scared me-I like the horse to be under me, but I did drive a cute little white pony for awhile. Now I have a donkey & driving thoughts do come to mind sometimes as she is only seven so I will have her for awhile-LOL.
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