How to Balance a 2 Wheel Cart to a Miniature Horse or Donkey
Frankie and Kristy in a Jerald with Wooden Wheels
1) Grab a friend and a yardstick.
2) Have your friend hold your cart where the tugs will be … (as in the wrap straps or metal tug stops) one hand on each shaft as if they were the horse pulling the cart.
***Be sure you are on a VERY level surface. 1/2" can make or break it. I usually move to a few different level surfaces to be sure I am getting an accurate measurement.
3) Sit in the cart exactly as if you were driving. Hands holding your invisible reins and all.
4) Have your friend balance the cart shafts (up and down) until there is about 5lbs of pressure in their hands.
5) Without moving the shafts measure from the tip of the shafts to the ground (second friend helpful here).
6) Do this with all of your minis and record the measurements.
7) Grab your harnessed mini and hook him to the cart.
8) Adjust your harness so the shafts are the exact same height your handy (or second friend) measured.
Tripp & Kari in an Easy Entry Cart
with Marathon/Curved Shafts
Please do this … its really an eye opener to switch positions and have your friend sit in the cart while you hold the shafts. Have your friend lean forwards and backwards while you pull the cart around the barnyard … play around with the weight in your hands … really get a feel for what your mini experiences. Trust me. Do it. Driving life changer!
Other things to consider:
1) Cart should be approx 10-15” from the rear end of your mini. If your mini is a big mover … extend his hind leg backwards as if he were trotting and be sure his hind hoof doesn’t hit the basket of your cart. Hitting the basket of the cart CAN become quite a bucking bronco rodeo event even with the well trained mini.
2) End of shafts should be near the point of the shoulder. Any longer and your mini will have a hard time turning and can get his bridle caught on the shafts. Any shorter and your tugs could slip over the ends of the shafts.
3) Visually your basket should be level with the ground or ever so slightly uphill.
4) If the shafts bounce up and down while trotting … not enough weight (remember 5lbs) in the shafts…try moving your seat up (if possible) or moving your mini forward in the shafts.
If you just can’t get it balanced perhaps try curved “marathon” shafts (see the pic of Kari and Tripp). They offer a lot of adjustment. Perhaps you need to have someone shorten your shafts? Or buy longer shafts? Maybe your mini needs to be moved forward or backwards within the 10-15” range. A different brand of cart perhaps?
As a general rule:
31” and under minis use 46” shafts
31 - 35” minis use 49” shafts
35 - 38” minis use 54” shafts
Of course there are always exceptions to the rule!
Let your axles carry all but 5lbs of weight and your mini will be free to dance and prance and strut his stuff!