A horse-drawn carriage or buggy is equipped with shafts. They connect to the harness and the horse, and are the driving mechanism. Engel’s Coach Shop owner Dave Engel states that horses must be able to pull the weight of the car from the swingletree attached to the shaft. Horse carts, two-wheeled vehicles that are balanced and steadied by the driver or their passengers is the best type of horse cart. The shafts are designed to support single-horse riding and help keep the cart on its feet.
The shafts of a horse-drawn buggy or horse-drawn horse cart connect to the harness and horse, and represent the steering mechanism.
- Two-wheeled horse carts, or horse carts, are balanced and steady by proper weight distribution.
For most buggies or other horse-drawn four-wheelers, measure the length of the shaft from the tip to the end. To ensure that buggy shafts are properly fitted, it is essential to measure accurately: Buggy shafts should be measured from the tip of the shaft to the front of the cross bar. To attach properly to the pony or horse harness, the shafts must be of the correct size.
For comparable horse cart shafts in the same lengths as above, add 30 cm (12inches) to this measurement. These are typically available in sizes pony, saddle horse, or draft horses. Buggy shafts differ from cart shafts in two key ways: the length of the shaft and how crossbars attach. In order to make space for the driver’s footboard the cart shafts are approximately a foot longer than the buggy shafts. Additionally, the crossbar that attaches to cart shafts can be mounted above or below them, instead of being mortised between them, as is the case with buggy shafts.
For comparable horse cart shafts in the same lengths as above, add 30cm (12 inches) to this measurement. These shafts are typically available in horse, draft horse, and saddle horses sizes.
- Cart shafts have a length of about one foot to make space for the driver’s footboard. The shaft crossbar is placed either above or beneath the two shafts.
For extra safety and stability, attach a circle brace just before the crossbar to both your cart shafts. This is essential for those using cart shafts. It’s optional for buggies.
The various shaft designs are also worth considering. There are two types of buggy or cart shafts: drop-heel and double-bend. These styles allow you to attach crossbars and swingletree to your axle well before the point where the shaft is attached to it. They can be used for smooth turns on vehicles that have “forward” bodies. For use with Meadowbrook and village carts, the shafts can also be made straighter.
Hickory wood is the best choice for high quality shafts because it has superior strength. A broken shaft tip can be repaired by cutting off the damaged section and then inserting a repair horn made of metal. While most donkeys need larger cart shafts of the pony size, mules will need smaller shafts for their horses.