Safe EZ Entry cart for ring driving of a horse

I have a show pleasure cart (Saddlebred-type) that I bought back when my horse was first being trained to drive. However, I probably won’t be showing show pleasure but mostly will be driving at home in my sand arena and working on desensitizing and turning him into an actual harness horse :slight_smile: He may enjoy some driven dressage, but we’ll see. He has been my riding horse and we’ve worked on dressage and western dressage so the concepts are not foreign to either of us.

Ok…onto the question - I’d like something that is easier for me to get in and out of. I’ve already modified his harness to have breeching and a wider breastcollar, as well as a treed saddle, but since he is still semi-green and I’ll mostly be hitching him by myself, I still want something lightweight.

Can I add a step or something to my show pleasure cart? Looks kind of like this:

Or do I should I just sell this one and buy a whole new ez-entry style cart?

Have you got room for two carts? You may want to show once horse is reliable in harness.

There are a lot of Easy entry carts out there. Many are light weight to pull about by yourself. Features I like are a seatback. You get very tired with nothing behind you on long driving times, so you hunch forward. Not good. Slatted floors over solid boards means less weight. You want shaft to ride level on his sides, no tips upward like in your photo. Very tiring to ride an uphill vehicle. To get level shafts, you probably need bigger wheels, which puts you more in the wood cart shopping area.

Always a topic of interest in wood versus air-filled tires. The air-tires tend to ride more easily over sand and dirt. However they are limited in size, carts they fit tend to be smaller. Wood wheels are more narrow, do cut into sand, dry soil, so horse has to work harder to keep up his speed in various gaits. Not good in deep sand of many (western) arenas, horse is worn out fast.

I am not a fan of Meadowbrook carts. The sit too low for me, hard to see around or ahead of the horse. The rear step entry is hard to get out of FAST. Their low center of gravity does make them less tippy in travel. I prefer the “Road Cart” designs that sit up higher to look ahead and can have easy entry shafts on the sides. Horse MUST stand quiet until signaled to “walk on.” This means he needs to ignore weight changes in shafts, girth tugging, vehicle squeaking as driver gets in and situated. Just the nature of carts!

Most wooden carts are reasonably light, easy to repair if damaged. You need to check for “balance” which is a magic point where shafts float in the tig loops durine travel. Have to say it (in real life) is uncommon to see or attain, though there are “moments of glory” in your driving time! To test for balance in a cart you need to hold HARD on shafts where tug loops would be, then have a second person get into vehicle. It is AMAZING how much weight goes on the shafts! Speak up quickly if you feel you cannot hold shafts before person gets dropped or shafts fly up!! If you have no trouble holding shafts, have passenger move forward, back, trying to find a seated spot where shaft weight is only about 10-15 pounds on your hands. This is your balance point! Horse can carry this all day!

Metal carts are just heavier because they are metal. You do NOT want thin-wall tubing in a cart.
They can come with air filled or solid spoke wheels with flat rubber. They also have a balance point, some have seats that adjust forward or back, to help with balancing. They are pretty easy care, though the adjustable shafts must be watched for metal fatigue on the screws holding shafts in place. They can work loose, not stay tight with much adjusting. Being over tightened regularly can speed up fatigue.

Both wooden and metal carts need good springs to give a good ride. Little coiled springs or C-springs made of bent tubing are NOT comfortable rides very long, no matter how thick the seat cushion is! Ha ha Most springs are leaf springs of some sort, they give a decent ride to the cart.

Either type can be good carts to use and enjoy. Can you hitch a ride with anyone to test ride various styles? Any other drivers you know to ask what they like or would change on their cart? Things on vehicles CAN be changed to fit you, be more comfortable.

You might like reading the Archives at the top of the posts. Tons of helpful information in there to help you progress with your horse and goals for him. Welcome to Driving!


Unfortunately the only drivers I know are all saddlebred show people. I did hook up with the local harness club but haven’t made it to an event yet as they have all been summer drives and we are definitely not ready for that!

If I sell a couple of saddles maybe I can swing a second cart. I just don’t know right now if we would show saddlebred style or if we would show something else (like driven dressage) where a side-type entry would be perfectly fine.

I’ve been taking lessons, but with a saddlebred trainer, and learned to hitch and loads of safety stuff while we were starting him in the cart, but I know I have a ton to learn still! I think I do have a bit of a leg up, so to speak, since I’ve always ground driven and long lined my riding horses, and I originally learned to drive as a kid from the Amish. But I do know how much I don’t know yet, which is a ton!

Thanks for the advice on wheels as well. I do want to be able to see and he isn’t small (he is 16.1). I saw a cart with torsion axles…are they as good as they seem to be?

I have ASBs, and I drive them. I have an easy entry version of a road cart. It’s all natural oak, and really lovely to handle, and has a nice ride. I have had a meadowbrook, which was was a pain to get in and out of, and I had a “war wagon” for cross country that I sold years ago. It was a great vehicle, but heavy, and I just got sick of four wheels.

I do not know where you are located, but here in PA, it’s easy to find something affordable that isn’t hard to hook, or to get in to. If you’d like to PM me, I might be able to help.

And, the horse in the picture is adorable- I’d love to hear more about him. How is he bred?

That one isn’t mine, though I wish he were! I’m in the Midwest…so not as close to PA (I am formerly Pennsylvanian) where I know there are quite a few :slight_smile: but thanks for the offer!

There are a couple Sales coming up, which might be near you. The Waverly Horse Fall Sale is Oct 5, 2022, in Waverly, Iowa. Their site is updated as new items arrive. Appears to be a one day sale of carriages, wagons, horse related items and horses. I have never attended but others say it is a good sale.

The other is the Fall Topeka, Indiana horse and carriage sale, the end of October. They are found in a search using Topeka Livestock Auction. The dates are Oct 24-28, with carriages selling one of those days. No information on Oct sales up yet but you could call their office to ask specific questions. There usually is a variety of vehicles from wagons to sleighs, buggies and carts, occasionally modern vehicles, in all sizes. Some junk, some jewels, and like any auction look carefully before bidding.

Measure your horse, take a tape measure with you to size any vehicles you like. How long of shafts does he need, how high do shafts need to be from the ground to be the right height, level on his sides? Shipshewana Harness a few miles north in Shipshewana sells carriage parts, though there are all kinds of buggy shops in the area as well. @2DogsFarm may have some recommends for shopping carriage things nearby. Makers of new vehicles.

It is a good place to see stuff even if ýou don’t buy. Get a feel for prices. Fall is usually a bit cheaper than spring sale prices. You have winter to send things out for repair or work on “projects” if they need it.

@Alterration The Topeka auction has been disappointing the last couple times I went.
There’s usually a couple horse-sized EZ Entry, but they’re not US made, so caveat emptor :smirk:
That said, I got my mini-sized EZ Entry there 5yrs ago & it has stood up to considerable use. I did upgrade the bicycle-type wheels to something more suited to trails or CDE. That cost me almost as much as the cart. Partly because the axle had to be replaced also (foreign mfr axle did not work with new wheels) - but well worth it.

Driving Club friends have been to the auction in Waverly & I can ask them how that one is.

If you’re looking for new, West Star in Shipshewana, IN makes a good product & there’s a harnessmaker near their store that the same friends like.
Shipshewana Harness is pricy, but well made harness for horses - leather & biothane.
Their Pony & Mini products are not as good, but just as expensive.

I’ve got a cart similar to that with a step in the back. It’s a 1946ish Jerald. The step doesn’t help all that much.

There are EZ entry carts and there are EZ entry carts. The most common is the the pipe cart with a basket you step into, that is mentioned above.

Another version is similar to yours, except the seat is on a post and you step around it. For miles, these are fine. They are pretty darn sturdy. The 18" motorcycle wheels are no joke. Last time I had a flat, I ended up taking it to a bike shop & it took 2 guys to get the tire on & off.

If you’re in the Midwest, look for an Amish horse sale, they often have cart & harness dealers. The MEC in Shipshewana has sales all the time. Facebook is another good source, you just have to keep an eye out. Your saddlebred trainer may hear of one that’s available as well.

Thanks @2DogsFarm. I go there irregularly, not current on stuff going thru.

We have sold carriages thru them, got what we wanted for them, but they were in nice shape, usable without extra work.

Martin’s Carriage Auction at the Lebanon Fairgrounds is coming up Oct 14, 2022 in Pennsylvania, if OP is going to visit relatives. Much the best carriage auction, you can find amazing things there in vehicles and horse equipment! Some are bargins, others go for top money because they are unique. The cataloged items can usually be viewed at their site. But the uncatalogged items are full of surprises. Looking around here, it seems half our stuff is from Martin’s! Ha ha

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Jerald Runabout

I recommend Jerald Sulky Co’s Runabout cart.
I prefer wood shafts to metal, always. If you get in a mishap it’s much better for a shaft to break than your horse’s leg. IMO.