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SlideStop 08-11-2012 08:24 PM

Some help with driving, well equipment adjustment
I just started driving the mini donkies at my barn after their 2 year break (long story). They each have their own harnesses that are adjusted to them and "directions" about their commands, trace and bridle adjustment from a previous owner. They have been behind the cart about 4 times now for short amounts of time. They got right back into it like they didn't miss a day! They also seem to really enjoy it and take their jobs seriously. They DON'T bray for each other when in tack and their attitudes change when their harnesses go on. Although I've done TONS of ground driving, I've never actually sat in a cart and driven. I know where all the stuff goes but there is two things I'm not sure of.

1) the traces... Should they be taught? Because the setting it says to have them seems loose to me. The pulling should be coming from the traces and not the surcingle and shafts, right?
2) when making sharp turns the shafts bump them in the neck. Although I've been using it on the setting it was on my thought is that they need to be lowered and set back a little bit.

Also, I would love to get a book on driving, from harness adjustment, to parts of the tack, to how to break them to drive. I actually find driving quite relaxing! :)

Any other tips and advice is welcome!!

Many, many thanks!!

Some Awww factor..

churumbeque 08-11-2012 08:42 PM

A side view would be nice to give better advice nut the tiops of the shafts should be at the point of shouder and should not hit them in the neck. If you move the mule up that will take out some slack in the traces but your traces do not look to be running back properly. They looked like they may be going through the breeching ring as they shouldn't be coming off the hip like that but I can't see it from that picture.

Clayton Taffy 08-11-2012 08:46 PM

I love the awwww factor!!

Your question about traces is a complicated one.
The traces, breeching and hold back straps are so entwined together, that you can't adjust one without affecting the other.
I find that this is the most difficult area to get correct for beginning drivers, and actually long time drivers too.
Whenever I hitch a new horse or use a new harness or cart it takes a while to get it just right, often times driving a while before making yet more adjustments.
I am on my way to feed right now and I will tackle this inquirery more in depth after dinner.

Long story short though your traces and breast collar should be doing the pulling.
Your shafts are too long if they are poking your equine in the neck, you can try to move your donket further forward in the shafts. This should be corrected swiftly so your donkey does not get into the habbit of counter bending to avoid being poked.

Clayton Taffy 08-12-2012 05:20 AM

When the cart is pushed backward so that the traces are tight (in draught) the shaft tips should be no farther forward than the point of the shoulder. This keeps the lines from getting caught and prevents the horse being poked in the neck.

The shafts should be level, and the tugs (the loops that hold the shafts) should be hanging straight down from the saddle, perpendicular to the ground. The traces should pass between the two belly bands, but not inside the tugs, on the way back to the single tree.

With the cart still pushed back, you can hook up the breeching. The breeching should be just tight enough to put a fist between the breeching and the horse’s rump. So that when you are finished hitching the cart only rolls about 4-5” between the draught of the breast collar and the breeching. This adjustment is what keeps the traces from becoming too loose.

This photo is the best I could find, you can see that the traces are in draught but the breeching is not droopy or loose at all. You can see that the shaft tips are behind the point of the shoulder and the traces are run between the two belly bands.

The shafts are not level, I feel there is some leeway for this rule because your vehicle might have to fit different horses, so a little pointing up I feel is Okay, although never pointing down. If and when I get a new cart for this horse I would make sure the shafts are level though.

Clayton Taffy 08-12-2012 05:35 AM

Sorry HF won't let me upload a photo for some reason, will try later.

SlideStop 08-12-2012 09:59 AM

Ok, that makes sense. When I set the cart back the traces will become thighter. Idk whats under the ball of duct tape, so this should be interesting. Maybe I'll get black duct tape when.I retape whatever is under there to take away from the ghetto-ness of the cart.

Both the donks are about the same so (i would say maybe a two inch difference from the Jenny and Jack/john).

The traces should go on the inside of the girth? Right against their skin?
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Clayton Taffy 08-12-2012 10:33 AM

There should be two "Girths" an inner that holsd the saddle on and an outer that holds the shafts down. The traces should go between the two girths, it helps to keep the traces in the correct place and looks neater.

If you only have one girth that holds the saddle on the trace goes on the outside of this girth.

Where is the duck tape on the cart/ Harness?

SlideStop 08-12-2012 09:10 PM

Oh ok they go in between! That makes more sense!

The is a duct tape ball I have to slide the tugs over on the shafts, or at least that's what I was told..
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clippityclop 08-12-2012 09:31 PM

So the duct tape ball is there to keep the tugs from sliding around? LOL! Sounds similar to my old easy entry cart....I've loved and used that thing to fits in that category of "101 uses for bailing twine"...

If the balance (pull) is just right from the traces - girth - tugs then they shouldn't have a desire to wander up and down the shafts. A side pic of your donkey(s) harnessed up would be a big help...sometimes even the way the breeching is attached can affect the balance...

As far as where to run the traces thru (girth), I agree that they should run between, but only if the traces can still run a straight line back to the single tree and when under pressure are not rubbing hard agains the overgirth (tie down part of the girth). Otherwise, I'd put them on the outside (happens alot with horses/ponies/donkies in shafts that are an inch or so too wide).

A couple of my carts had little rings welded under the shafts where you could loop the ties of the girth thru (and around the shafts once) before buckling them down - this was what helped the tugs from traveling up and down the shaft, too. But then again, once I figured out the balance of the whole harness, then the tugs wouldn't travel. This is what I think you are talking about as far as the duct tape ball goes...if I am way off, sorry...LOL!!!

SlideStop 08-12-2012 09:39 PM

Yeah, I will get a side photo for sure. That was just one I had on my phone.

The cart is pretty... Ghetto. Lol. The balls are on the shafts and I was told to put the balls through the tugs. Maybe they were put on before someone invested in breeching? That might make sense as to why the shafts are hitting them in the neck, why there is a huge wad of duct tape the cart and why the traces seem long!
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