Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Buying Things

It is time to start considering an upgrade to my training equipment! I just can not in good faith keep driving a horse with ill-fitting equipment. It's just asking for trouble!
Shopping for things is always super fun, but I am not exactly made of money, and I am not dumb enough to go crazy buying fancy equipment for a sport I'm only just starting to get involved in. It would be like someone who has just learned how to w-t-c in an English saddle going out and buying a full set of eventing equipment for all three phases... that person might well decide as they learn a little more that they want to do hunters instead, and then where would they be? I need something that we can use for training and learning, something that is versatile. 

I listed my way-too-big harness today on Ebay, just on a whim, while I was window shopping for cob size harnesses. (O is kind of right inbetween sizes... just a little big for cob size, just a little small for horse size.) Within the hour, it sold at the buy-it-now price. Which is great, but it also means that now I have no harness at all! Time to go shopping for something that fits!

I found THE most gorgeous high-wheel wooden road cart on Craigslist that I fell in love with. All of the measurements were perfect on it, AND it came with two sets of really nice harness. I was just itching to go get it, but I had to force myself to stop. Sure, a wooden cart is GORGEOUS, but where would I store it? How would I transport it? What if it got wet, muddy, dirty? If I was made of money, I'd go snag it, but it just doesn't make a ton of sense to have a cart like that right now.

I sat down and made a list of things I need in my equipment. Basically it boils down to wanting a leather large cob/small horse size harness (although I'd take a nice synthetic one too, just not nylon), and a 2-wheel vehicle that I can be tough on and can bounce around in our field as well as go down the road. That probably leaves me with a metal cart for now, which is fine. I need something that can stand a little abuse.

I have a few options locally, three of which I've narrowed it down to at the moment (because I can go to and try all of them out!). All three of these are Easy Entry style carts, which I don't love but I'm not terribly adverse to. One is just a simple Easy Entry cart by itself for a very low price, one is a heavy-duty beefed up Easy Entry cart that I really like, and one is an Easy Entry cart that is the same model at the first cart but also comes with a Smuckers harness (or is supposedly Smuckers), two bits, a whip, and harness pads. Smuckers harness is very, very nice. The beefed up cart and the package cart+harness are the same price, the cart alone is quite cheap. Obviously I'd also need a new harness with either of the carts since mine just sold.

The beefy Easy Entry cart is extremely appealing. It has curved shafts (and two sets of them, one cob and one horse), a custom footrest and dash, and big huge beefy tires. It looks like a cart that would hold up to some serious abuse. You can see how tough it looks compared to the other Easy Entry. The other Easy Entry comes with the whole package set though - the very nice harness, harness pads, a whip, and two sets of bits, a snaffle and a Liverpool. The package deal (cart+harness+whip+pads+bits) is the same price as the beefy cart is by itself, so buying the beefy cart and all of the additional things needed adds up to a fair amount of money. 

There is appeal to both of these. Having a very nice harness would really be great, since O has such sensitive skin and things that are lower grade material tend to rub her raw. I can always upgrade to a nicer cart later, right? But getting my hands on a beefmeister cart like that one is also super appealing - the curved shafts, the huge tires, the add-ins like the dash and the footrest... what's not to love about all of that! 

What would you lean towards, if you were me?


  1. I think I'd go with the package, and have a harness right away to keep training with.

  2. Depends on which is more expensive to replace - the harness or the cart? If the beefy cart will get you through all 3 phases, get it. You're likely going to want two harnesses (one for dressage/stadium, and one for XC) eventually anyway. I'm sure you can find a harness more easily than you can a cart that you like, too.

    1. It's a little bit of a catch - that beefy cart I could only use at the very lowest level. As soon as I want to move uo, I'd probably want to upgrade to a 4 wheel vehicle. So it's also only a temporary thing!

  3. All my friends that drive have synthetic Zilco (or similar) harness (but not Tedex / nylon), so because of that I would be hesitant to get a leather harness myself. These type of Zilco harness ( are quite popular for all levels of competition here, except showing (above local shows) where leather is always going to be preferred. Most of my friends use their harness for multiple disciplines (local shows, low-level dressage and cones, pleasure and distance driving), but most of my experience is with endurance driving where the synthetic harness seemed quite popular. Much much easier to care for (especially for pairs, etc) and very hard-wearing and functional. If you are worried about rubs, that was something that could show up over long distances too. Seemed to me that fit was the most important factor, especially with the breastplate (or collar). The Empathy breastplate from Zilco could be helpful.

    IMHO the 'beefy' vehicle is a better vehicle because it is also more presentable for low-level dressage or shows. It looks like a sturdy and versatile vehicle.

    The package sounds very tempting! The only thing I would be wary of is making sure that all the things are things you want (ie. fit/suit the horse) - there is no added value if it's not something that you want.

    Some of my friends have several driving horses, and several vehicles for each horse, but they mostly have only one well-fitting harness for each horse (as they don't compete at a high enough level to warrant a specialised harness for each discipline). So my take on that is that a good, well-fitting harness can be used for most disciplines, whilst the vehicles can be a little more obviously discipline-specific. You can always choose to get another (or second) better or more specialised vehicle when you know what interests you most.

    Good luck and have fun! :)

  4. I love love love Zilco but there is nooooo way I can afford that right now! :)

  5. Noting your comment above that you'd need a 4-wheel cart when you move onto something more with competition - I'd say get the package deal. Save money now so you can really splurge later when you're competing - if you want to go down that road!

    That beefy cart is AWESOME looking though, I must say. I look at it and immediately begin thinking about all of the trails I could go on with it. ...and through creeks...over rocks...up mountains...down haul roads.... lol

  6. I do like that beefy cart! The other cart is your standard 2 wheel vehicle. It is sturdy and will get the job done. And you can always switch out the wheels if need be, either to bigger wheels or even show wheels. If it comes in a package deal, go for it. I also recommend biothane harness over leather. So much easier to clean and take care of.

  7. If your ultimate goal is the eventing style driving, then I would go with the package. Get it, learn it, train and then upgrade slowly.

  8. I'd do the package, since you'll have to upgrade the cart anyway once you start competing. You can always put on beefier tires if needed.

  9. I'd go for the beefy cart. 1) It will hold up better to whatever you do with it. 2) ADS does not like bike tires to my knowledge, especially when it comes to the marathon phase. 3) The beefy cart will retain value better.

    If you plan on trail driving and doing other non-arena or groomed footing stuff: beefy cart.

    I personally like dull biothane/granite over leather. has a nice bio breastcollar harness for under $500 new. There's also and Smucker's has an entry level harness for around $600 new. No idea what your budget is.

  10. I am so behind on reading blogs... ahhh!!!! I have no idea on the cart, but this was so long ago it doesn't matter anyway hehe. Looking forward to seeing which you chose. :D