Cost to Compete?

We actually haven’t shown in CDE’s for the past 2 years due to COVID, so I haven’t quite read the rule proposal yet! I did hear some grumblings about it, but haven’t looked it up yet.

I will have to do some research on this!

Hoefnet had the friendliest breakdown, so start there!

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I don’t have any little horses currently. I proposed learning to drive to my Friesian cross. He asked if I wanted to die. Stories of yellow wheels and fancy hats didn’t impress him. Lol


Very pretty!

Thanks for sharing!

What a gorgeous turnout! And thank you for sharing your set-up, I find it all so fascinating. It’s certainly harder here in Ontario (well, Canada generally) - especially with the land borders shut - to find the nicer carts.

Your post has helped me to realize my starter easy entry cart will work for the foreseeable and as a training cart, but I’ll need to eventually source something nicer with removeable shafts so it can go in my one-horse trailer along with my mare. Right now, we have a small basket thing on the hitch of our second vehicle that we use to transport the easy entry with. Do-able, but not convenient or efficient.

People have mentioned the Freys, but I’ve also heard Bellcrown mentioned. Is one better - or more affordable - than the other for what I’m looking to do (CDE with a large mini) with the removeable shafts?

I am in the stock trailer camp. They are so adaptable! Not sure what kind of tow vehicle you have, but we prefer gooseneck because it is more flexible to maneuver for parking. Ours is an old steel model that can be open fully or divided with the gate. We haul horses in front because we think they get a nicer ride suspended between the axles. Carriage goes in the back. We added a ramp at the rear, makes life lots easier. Pony vehicles are narrower than horse vehicles, but measure the door opening inside the frame. Walls may be wider than frame, so maker measurements are misleading! Hubs may stick out further than wheel width, especially on antiques, so they have to be considered when using a trailer.

Husband did all the “extras” on our trailer, put on the ramp, made stall divider and post to hold divider in place, lined the metal walls with plywood, glued rubber matting to the plywood for safety. We have seen horses that kicked thru metal only walls. Not pretty. Made mangers in the gooseneck with tack storage and a door on the nose front. That area really holds a lot of stuff!

We have large horses, so stall area is 8ft long plus 2ft of manger area, with a 10ft box in the rear. Usually have the carriage back there or we can haul 2 more horses back there if needed. So 18ft of floor with a 6ft nose, for a total of 24ft in length.

We do ADS things so expenses might be slightly less than the upper levels. It does cost to play in Driving! We are down to a Pair from doing Fours a number of years ago. Kids are gone, no extra help! Have to say there is less gear to haul! Ha ha

I am not sure ADS would follow USEF changes after the disagreements a couple years ago. USEF wants to be in control of EVERYTHING, with their Officials (added expenses) all over the place, making their own rules to follow. I personally met and congratulated the ADS President at the time for rejecting the partnership! USEF is not our driving friend. At that time the Endurance folks were the “other” black sheep group rejecting USEF partnership, because of interference. Then the Reining folks also jumped ship, told USEF they did not want their interference.

ADS is the entry level for those wishing to do CDE things, Pleasure driving shows that the VAST MAJORITY of their membership attend. Many find it pretty expensive to compete, and this is even with being subsidized by the Clubs putting on competitions! That is a TON of fundraising and donations that have to be found! We did 4 CDE competitions one year, quite awhile ago and it meant corner cutting in other places. No way we could have gone further away or done more in a year. We had lots of fun, learned a lot, but that was all we could manage in reality. Granted that folks only competing with one equine will have a lot less costs, than we did with four horses, no spare. We camped, brought food to the events, only did nearby Midwest CDEs except when we once went to Gladstone.

We find most competitors are happy with ADS and not striving to compete at the highest levels. They are satisfied with less than top level classes at their CDEs. They never plan to be in the World rankings, not going to Europe. There are many hidden expenses you have to cover when you are “among the chosen” headed for Europe. USEF does NOT fund you more than a pittance.


This is where someone with experience in carts would give better advice! I have a little knowledge about 4 wheel vehicles, but other than “ez entry carts are not suitable for marathon”, I got nothing lol!

Without turning this thread into a USEF v ads debacle, safe to say there are plenty of valid arguments and blame to spread on both sides of the table and overall the only ones hurt by the split were the competitors, so “congrats” is pretty far from my assessment. But, as someone who is interested in the upper levels (which is entirely different from going to Europe), after a season of USEF competition, I was more than pleased with how driving was treated. Danielle is doing a fine job and the show organizers I have talked to seem to be fine with USEF. The ADS is a great organization for education and other areas of driving, and they get my membership dollars as well, but I’m firmly in the camp that thought the split did more harm than good for driving.

Also, reining left the FEI because their bread and butter is 3 year old futurities and FEI rules do not allow competing a 3 year old, it had nothing to do with USEF. US Endurance had other issues with FEI endurance, but US riders still compete in FEI events and are part of USEF as the NGB.


DMK, thanks for your side of the split. And you are correct about the 3yr old reining horses, it is where the money is. USEF wanted to control ALL of the levels in USA reining, every competition. Same for everything ADS. I saw it as over-controlling, added expense, with very few benefits to most of the membership. We will just have to disagree on it, see what the future brings. Also do not want to get thread topic changed!

I am seeing a number of folks using the various size Frey carts in competition. Our friends with large ponies like their Frey a lot. Keep in mind that pneumatic tires are only allowed in Training level when looking at vehicles to purchase. Some come with both hard and pneumatic tire sets. Learn to read the tire date of manufacture, so tires can be replaced before going flat on you. We had a lady whose tire sidewall split wide open, no noise, started flapping on the rim at our driving show!! We immediately halted the horses, headed her ponies, to unhitch and leave the ring. Nice ponies, no excitement thank goodness! But it sure ruined the fun for the driver, with this being her first class. She had taken carriage in for complete servicing, but tire dates did not get checked. Tires “looked” fine, no sidewall cracking, good tread depth at servicing. So date on tire is your best friend. Like the perfect looking, aged tires on horse trailers! Die as you head down the road!!

Make sure wheels spin true if metal spokes and rims. With the removable shafts, keep extra bolts and nuts on hand. Overtightening can also cause metal fatige. Double nuts, cotter pin thru the bolt end, lock washers, can help keep things tight. Metal fatigue is a real thing, has happened to bolts, tubing.

Go over the prospective vehicle in good lighting, checking for stress cracks, weld failure, rust, “wallered out” holes the bolts go thru, especially on shafts and sockets of shafts.


I’m leaning towards a Frey, but they’re hard to stumble across up here! Nevertheless, I’ve already started prepping my partner for how much this “investment” in a good carriage is going to run :wink:

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I had a medium pony Frey Sprint cart for my 12.2 donkey. The adjustability and balance on the cart was superb and ride perfectly comfortable. That being said it was just a little heavy for her but I bet forward moving ponies are a blast put to that cart.

I sold the Frey and purchased a Bellcrown cart which runs about 30-40 pounds lighter in the medium pony size and I selected the model where the shafts connect at the floor board verses the dash. It too is a fabulous cart that adjust very well and is comfortable to drive. The suspension system is excellent over uneven ground.

I will say Bellcrown had the cart ready and shipped at the date they promised. It worked out a little differently ordering the Frey cart.

I do ADS pleasure shows and CT with my cart.

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I appreciate you sharing your experiences with the Frey and Bellcrown carts. You’ve now got me considering a Bellcrown Aerocrown, which looks like it would be significantly less expensive than the Frey.

The cart looks to be pretty basic, not many upgrade options. Maybe that’s a good thing :sweat_smile:

I drove mini’s before the donkey. IMO with mini’s it’s all about the weight and ease to pull. If the mini weighs 300# that’s your max combined weight of cart & driver. Shop carefully! :slight_smile:


Just saw an ad for the mini Magnum, 2-wheel cart made by Bennington in the UK. They are a very good brand name. Aaron Soldivan (on FB) is the American dealer for Bennington, says he has two brand-new Magnums for sale. Price is a bit high compared to some other carts at $2900, but they are beautiful! Says weight is 103#, fits minis 30-38 inches.

I haven’t seen any used ones for sale. They may pass from one person to another, never get advertised. Anyway, another NICE cart for looking at. Not sure if they disassemble or not.

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I saw that one and a kutzmann (with regular and marathon shafts) for sale (Florida). Those, especially the Bennington, are more top of the line than the others, but… carts, not my area of expertise, I’m basing that on the rep their respective carriages have

Think the numbers for cost are pretty fair. You don’t need a presentation carriage until you reach advanced, and a solid Kuhnle or Glinkowski runs around what $7000 ish, maybe less. Carriages do hold their value. My husband and son event, we have almost $20,000 in saddles here. When I got serious about doing FEI I invested in a Bennington marathon carriage and got unbelievably lucky in getting a Bennington presentation carriage. Zilco harness (pressure washer and armorall). My jackets come from goodwill, and I had one black apron made. I did spend money on hats, Hats by Katie, and I’m 99% sure come January FEI will require helmets for cones. ADS will follow suit.

Edited to add: Benningtons are really top of the line single carriages. I love mine, wouldn’t drive anything else now. But you don’t need that getting started. I had an old WCC Batmobile, affectionately known as the shopping cart.

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I was mentioning the Magnum for the weight, which pony and mini folks consider very important in choosing CDE vehicles. 103# plus being very attractive, would turn my head! Ha ha. I have no idea what the Frey or Bellcrown models cost or weigh. Are Bellcrowns still available new? Also not much of a cart user, just using my past experience in fitting them, good and poor designs.

Ahonen carts are uncommon, but extremely nice vehicles. You never see many for sale, but their owners love them. Superb construction when we examined a couple and very light weight. She has a website if you do a search.

I picked up a beautiful pony village cart some years ago for $550. I ended up selling it a couple years ago because it hadn’t been used and the barn I was storing it in wasn’t going to be available indefinitely. Only lost ~$75 on it

Then last summer I got Mom’s pony. Picked up a lovely set of Smuckers harness on eBay for a whopping $300. Now I need to replace the cart I sold. I also need to convince the pony to stop cantering, but that’s another story.

I have a two wheel Jerald type pleasure driving cart that’s black. I told my Saddlebred trainer I was going to paint the undercarriage or the wheels yellow. He almost had the big one right there. :rofl:

Oh go with the color on the wheels! Ha ha

Just re-reading some of the advice in here, and wanted to inquire (as I price out different cart options) … is Ahonen still in business?

She is so far as I know. Best way to find out is to give her a call.

Those who have her vehicles love them. Seem to be easy to use, tough, last well with proper care. I liked the few I have seen in person, very nice constuction. Used ones usually sell quickly. Not sure how long the wait time is for a new vehicle from her.