Not so Traditional driving: Looking for a cart to go on trails

I am a New Englander with a mini horse in my back yard. This guy is SMART and ready to get to some serious work. We have a small grass arena but he’s over it and to be honest … so am I!
We have rocks. We have hills. We have trees and all that comes with them… a regular old easy entry cart with big wheels just doesn’t seem like the smart, or easy thing to use given our terrain.
I’d love to hear and see suggestions on carts (or funky made up things with wheels!) that would best suit some serious New England exploring!

Bonus if it’s cheap!

I’ve driven my mini & standard Easy-Entry on trails & Marathon courses over the last 3yrs.
Aside from the suspension (or lack of) it has done just fine.
Dirt &r paved roads, wooded & rocky trails, small verticals & through water hazards.
Drives of a couple hours & 10-15mi.
We’ve driven Cones in it too - just need to mind the turn radius or it becomes Easy-Out 😉

If you have the budget, treat yourself to a Marathon-style carriage.
They are built for going at speed over terrain.

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I drove an easy entry cart off road a lot. It was challenging terrain as I lived on top of a ridge in Colorado. We tore around my property and two adjoining ones, and also used my neighborhood’s bridle path. The path was definitely made to be ridden, not driven, but that didn’t stop us. Only age and cataracts finally made us quit.

I agree with @2DogsFarm in suggesting a marathon style carriage if you can afford it. I would have loved one, but just didn’t want to pay for it with horses that were already aging and no idea how long they would keep going. But if you can’t see your way to that option, you’d be surprised what you can do with an easy entry cart.

Rebecca

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If you don’t want to spend a lot, upgrade your wheels to motorcycle type ones. That is what I have on my easy entry and I drive on fairly rough terrain. Kingston Saddlery or maybe it is Kingston Carts sells them. My cart is from them and I have been happy with it (and the tires).

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There is a sport called Endurance Driving mainly in Nevada. They use chariot-like carts which are probably too big for a mini but have a look here: http://www.nedanv.org/?fbclid=IwAR3j_BJAS2fgyjQ7uAMQsAEI9g7sQmiINMWpJELz5SUHgo6dr7X1SiFdA9Y
I always thought it looked like a blast!

There are also distance driving competitions in Vermont. They were among the first to organize the activity. I only saw one driving photo (last one) at the Nevada site, the rest were ridden pictures. I think the chariot style cart might be a one-of, not what everyone uses. Driver looks like they are having fun, but I sure would not wish to spend my entire drive standing up in an unsprung vehicle, over rough ground. Doing a marathon can be extremely tiring for the standing Navigators, and they are only out a couple hours, with springs under carriage body, going over various kinds of ground.

You also need to consider the tires/wheels on the vehicle. Car type tires shown in the distance photo can roll nicely on rough tracks, sandy ground, be more puncture proof, but they weigh more, have greater resistance with wider widths to pull than other types of wheels. The motorcycle tires are very popular, don’t dig into sandy ground, manage gravel washout trails nicely. Tougher than bicycle wheels and light weight spokes. Have not heard of any properly inflated motorcycle wheels having issues with sideways torque in turns. The big metal spoked ones, air filled tires, horse sizes, seem quite tough. Solid tread wheels on wood or metal spokes are also pretty light weight, though tough wheels. Just know narrow widths can cut into sand, wet grass, creating more resistance for the animal pulling the vehicle.

They have a chariot class at the mini grand nationals, they go like heck and it looks like a fun but rough ride. The minis and drivers are all adorned in roman regalia. It’s fun to watch, but I wouldnt want to try it. I’d be bounced out pronto.

I had mini’s and they were a blast to drive. If I still had them THIS would be my cart of choice for going off road. They are rock solid and the perfect weight for a mini. https://chimacumtack.com/blog/featured_item/hyperbike-harness/

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My wonderful farrier in Colorado grew up helping his dad train chariot horses. He told me his job was to stop the runaways by throwing himself at them. He said he didn’t recommend it. He said being a bronc rider in rodeos was easier on his body.

Rebecca

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I have a mini that we drove everywhere and did EVERYTHING and I mean everything with an EE cart that my husband built and it has done excellent. I have no flat tires and we drive over rocks, tree branches, logs at least 1 foot high and there are leaf springs on the cart so it isn’t so bad. If the log is bigger I get my butt out and walk with the mini and cart over it. I also just purchased a shetland mare and she is doing great in her training and is a bulldozer. We had a hyper bike but I have arthritis PsA and OA and had a hard time getting in the cart. I kick myself and wished I kept it. The new pony stands better and stiller than the other mini. We do a ton of trails, streams, I actually drive where one would ride. I love it!

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@appybeads I always wondered if someone with RA could use a hyperbike. I had two easy entry carts (one sized for each pony, as they were significantly different in size), but a hyperbike looked like fun.

Rebecca

I’ve seen the hyperbikes in use & only thing stopping me from trying one is crappy, arthritic knees :cry:
I worry getting OUT of one in an emergency could be problematic.

You might check out the Shelby or Firefly from Patty’s Pony Place. Their Cricket is pretty fantastic too, but is a little heavier. The Firefly has sprung shafts as its suspension, but is super light and the Shelby rocks independent and adjustable suspension. I have driven in the Cricket with my client’s mini donk out through the desert and the ride is quite nice. I helped another client put together their Firefly and she enjoys it thoroughly. I haven’t seen the Shelby in person, but I am pretty impressed by the videos!

If I had horses that were pony sized (Percherons, and Belgians here!) I’d be looking at their vehicles for myself. They do have a bit of a wait list, but it was worth it!

I wasn’t as impressed with the hyperbikes I have seen as the idea of relying on the flexion in the axle as part of your suspension system doesn’t settle well with me.

I’ve seen a hyperbike shafts break so that isn’t a lot of fun (fortunately at a well attended event and a very quiet pony), but you do see a lot of them down on the sandy trails in Florida.

I have a G&S cart with steel wheels and solid rubber, think it was labeled as a ‘trail cart’, I believe the company was sold out so probably has a new name. This cart has been been amazing…was flipped over (ground bees) with only some paint scratched. Been over the hills and threw mud, water and bounced over many rocks. Mostly used witha hackney pony but ordered a set of longer shafts and used it on a 15+ hand horse, easily switched out, two bolts on each side.
Whole lot stronger and more stable than easy entry carts.

We also have the Fry cart company in Columbus Wis that makes top of the line carts for pleasure and showing. I have one of their Sprint carts, beautifully built, expensive but worth it for looks and safety. They have a web site with lots of photos of their products.

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Wow twadwis, those Fry carts are nice! thanks for the hot tip :slight_smile:

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I have one of those also…picked it up off Craigslist a couple of months ago. Very happy with it although I would like shorter shafts for the horse I’m using. Nice to know I might be
able to track down shorter shafts.