Stopping an Accident in Progress?
   

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Stopping an Accident in Progress?

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        12-03-2013, 11:01 AM
      #1
    Foal
    Stopping an Accident in Progress?

    Hi all!

    I hope this is the right place for this question - please don't hesitate to point in another direction if I've miscalculated things.

    The short story is, I sold a "rural fantasy" novel this year (cowboys and natives and fishmen, oh boy!) and am currently hard at work on the sequel. I've been eyeball-deep in research lately, but am hitting a wall with some of the finer points, and was hoping I could beg y'all's expertise.

    Here's my current setup:

    --A one-horse buckboard (like this one here)

    --a breeching strap that's come loose. When the horse stops on a decline, the wagon keeps rolling forward, whacks him on the backside, and he bolts.


    Questions are:

    1. It seems like the breeching generally is one thick single piece of leather, precisely to prevent this kind of thing from happening. I've read about historical accidents where the strap just broke, but is there any kind of carelessness in the initial harnessing that might cause something similar?

    2. I expect it would be somewhat trickier than usual to prevent this situation from becoming a full-blown wreck, because you'd have to keep the wagon from overrunning the horse when he finally slows down. It seems like the ideal thing would be to try to steer him for a fairly steep hill. If there's not one of those handy, what would be plan B? Would it be better to try cutting him loose?*

    *I am a little confused on this point because I don't see any shafts on this particular kind of wagon, and am having a hard time visualizing how the horse would be hitched up without them.


    Again, please don't feel obliged to correct any of the twelve mistakes I'm sure I've already made here - but any insight you could provide would be a huge help!
         
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        12-03-2013, 12:16 PM
      #2
    Yearling
    I'm not an expert (let alone driving that type of cart lol) but ime that type of accident could also be caused by the strap not being tight enough. For instance, if I was to hurry and rush the last minuet check when the horse is harnessed up and that strap is too loose.... well..... I'm in trouble.
    2. The wagon can also overturn at high speeds, all it takes is one loss of balance and then it's over. It looks to me like the shafts are missing from that cart but that might just be me. While going up a hill might help I would first want to start by doing something like a one rein stop or even hanging in the horses mouth to stop them bolting. (I'm not very good at explaining it lol)

    Cutting him loose would depend on if someone had caught him and restrained him but he was still trying to bolt. I know that I've cut a horse out of a harness for that reason because there wasnt time to properly unhook before it was running again. Honestly if it was bolting and no one was trying to restrain it then I would try those things but bail if things got too bad.

    Good luck! I hope I didn't butcher that too badly lol.
    TexMaam likes this.
         
        12-04-2013, 05:56 PM
      #3
    Started
    *I am a little confused on this point because I don't see any shafts on this particular kind of wagon, and am having a hard time visualizing how the horse would be hitched up without them.


    You are confused because they aren't there. At some point they were removed or more than likely rotted and broke off. There does appear to be some restoration (looks new under the box). That wagon could of been set up either way for a single or team. As it is, that wagon is "yard art".

    You physically can not just "cut him loose". There are multiple points that you have to undo to free the horse. You can't reach one of them from the wagon. If it's a lost cause, you bail. Your wagon gets smashed up and hopefully your horse comes home in one piece.

    Also, most wagons have brakes on them to prevent that very scenario.
    TexMaam likes this.
         
        12-05-2013, 08:18 AM
      #4
    Started
    The breeching is connecting the horse and carriage by means of a smaller strap known as a holdback. This could (and Does) get left undone, or could break, more believably than breeching.

    You are correct, there are no shafts on that particular buckboard, they are just not shown, I suppose.

    The shafts connect to the saddle portion of the harness, and slide forward when the holdbacks fail, or are not snug enough. This can cause the shaft to poke the horse in the head if he he turns.

    Good Luck on the book!!

    Nancy
    TexMaam likes this.
         
        12-05-2013, 01:07 PM
      #5
    Showing
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TexMaam    
    --A one-horse buckboard (like this one here)

    --a breeching strap that's come loose. When the horse stops on a decline, the wagon keeps rolling forward, whacks him on the backside, and he bolts.


    Questions are:

    1. It seems like the breeching generally is one thick single piece of leather, precisely to prevent this kind of thing from happening. I've read about historical accidents where the strap just broke, but is there any kind of carelessness in the initial harnessing that might cause something similar?

    2. I expect it would be somewhat trickier than usual to prevent this situation from becoming a full-blown wreck, because you'd have to keep the wagon from overrunning the horse when he finally slows down. It seems like the ideal thing would be to try to steer him for a fairly steep hill. If there's not one of those handy, what would be plan B? Would it be better to try cutting him loose?*

    *I am a little confused on this point because I don't see any shafts on this particular kind of wagon, and am having a hard time visualizing how the horse would be hitched up without them.


    Again, please don't feel obliged to correct any of the twelve mistakes I'm sure I've already made here - but any insight you could provide would be a huge help!
    As others have said, a single horse buckboard or buggy will always have shafts because that's the only way to attach it to the horse correctly.

    Anyway, when harnessing horses, sometimes people forget to buckle a certain buckle or they don't know that it needs buckled or the leather is old and gives out when pressure is applied. Either way, sometimes things happen and you find yourself in a wreck...praying for a safe outcome for everyone LOL.

    Like LHP said, you can't just cut him loose because there are multiple points of connection that you can't reach from the wagon. If things get to the point of no return, you have to bail for your own safety and leave your horse to whatever happens.

    However, it is possible to stop them after they have their runaway without causing a bigger wreck, but it's hard and depends solely on the terrain and ability of the driver. In an ideal world, if there are no uphills to steer him toward, then there are no downhills either that would run the wagon up his butt again. On flat country, you could just let the horse run his panic off and then slowly get him back under control and ask him to gently slow to a stop. If he takes his time stopping, then the weight of the wagon would slow down with him and not run him over again. Or, if the terrain permits, you could circle him (very big circles to avoid turning the wagon over) because the centrifugal force would help to slow the wagon down as well as helping you re-gain control of the horse.


    I grew up in a household where my Dad spent decades training (and retraining "problem") teams. Over the years, we've had our share of runaways but, thankfully, no real wrecks where people or animals were hurt. The key is that, if they are truly panicked, then they aren't going to stop just because you pull on the reins. Your only real chance is if you can stick with them and sort of direct them well enough to avoid dangerous obstacles long enough for the panic to wear off. Once they switch from "flight mode" back to "thinking mode", then you can assess the situation and start working to get them stopped so you can fix it.

    Dad always keeps a tractor tire on the wagon that is attached to the rear axle via a chain. That way, if things start to go bad, all he's got to do is drop the tire on the ground. That will suck the air out of a horse quickly and help get them stopped faster (none of our wagons have working brakes ) than anything.

    This team of mules were notorious bolters when he first got them, but dragging an extra few hundred pounds of resistant dead weight made bolting too much of a chore so they got over it.
         
        12-06-2013, 02:14 AM
      #6
    Started
    I don't know much about the cart driving aspect, but in terms of carelessness that would cause issues with the harness, neglect is a big one. If leather is not properly cleaned and maintained, it can get dry and cracked -- thus much more likely to break.
    TexMaam likes this.
         
        12-06-2013, 10:06 AM
      #7
    Weanling
    A breeching strap could break or the buckle could rip out of old stitching,I suppose ,but it would have to be a badly maintained one,I presume if your going down a hill,your not trotting so depending on the steepness of the hill would be how hard the cart pushed against him,and in that scenario I think your two options are to get out of the cart and walk with your back against it to help keep the weight off the horse until you get on a level,or turn him sideways to release the pressure and then either un yoke him or put a temporary strap in place of the one that's broke,a bit of rope or something similar. If your scenario is your trotting or cantering down the hill,look for a soft spot to jump off ,because the chances are it would take your horses legs out from under him
    TexMaam likes this.
         
        12-06-2013, 05:03 PM
      #8
    Foal
    Thanks so much, all - what an eye-opener this has been! (I would have made myself nuts for HOURS trying to figure out what kind of rig would let you hitch up to a wagon with no shafts!)

    So it sounds like the consensus is that there are half a dozen different ways to prompt this particular kind of accident, but really only one thing to do when it happens: steer to avoid a wreck until he gets over the initial panic, or failing that, bail and pray. (No tractor tires handy for this particular expedition, but smrobs, that is an INGENIOUS idea!! I love that photo!)
    smrobs likes this.
         
        12-07-2013, 08:46 AM
      #9
    Started
    Wait, smrobs..... 'splain this to me, please! How am I driving along, horses spook, start running, then I LEAVE the box to go back and dump a 200 lb tire off the back??? Am I supposed to still be holding the lines? Lol, I cannot even get my F-250 truck tire out of the bed, and it is NOT running away!!

    Nancy
         
        12-07-2013, 04:56 PM
      #10
    Showing
    Actually, that picture doesn't show how the tire is on the wagon when not in use. Dad usually stands behind the seat when driving, especially on green teams who might spook or bolt and the tire would be needed. There's no padding and it's hard for him to sit on there for extended periods of time. So, it's just a matter of walking to the end of his lines and cutting a rope because this is how the tire is attached. No scooting or lifting necessary.
         

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