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Horses and horses and carts

 
Lucy Elder
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Where I live in rural Bulgaria few people in the village have cars, but some have horses and carts used for everything from hauling grass for hay, water for watering,
logs for heating, people to visit other people and to take loads of fruit and veg around.

I realise that in cities a lot of horses and carts aren't an ideal option. Buses better as they carry more people. But what about in small country places?

Does anyone here depend quite heavily on horses for transport/work rather than owning them for leisure? Ture, they need to eat but do do most forms of transport. And the manure is a bonus.
 
tel jetson
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my understanding is that French Intensive Gardening developed in response to a ready supply of horse manure for both amending soil and providing heat. personally, I can think of a whole lot more helpful things to use manure for than I can for diesel bus emissions. electric buses might be marginally better, but that electricity has to come from somewhere.

the obvious bottleneck, as you mentioned, Lucy, is feeding the beasts. once upon a time, I would guess that there was pasture near enough to population centers that this was less of an issue.

my town has some decorative hitching posts on the main street, but they're obviously not meant to be used. we're a small enough town that a shift back to horses for transportation would be fairly manageable.
 
Janet Williams
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Lucy Elder wrote: Where I live in rural Bulgaria few people in the village have cars, but some have horses and carts used for everything from hauling grass for hay, water for watering,
logs for heating, people to visit other people and to take loads of fruit and veg around.

I realise that in cities a lot of horses and carts aren't an ideal option. Buses better as they carry more people. But what about in small country places?

Does anyone here depend quite heavily on horses for transport/work rather than owning them for leisure? Ture, they need to eat but do do most forms of transport. And the manure is a bonus.


Most people in the US, whether in the city or the country area's do use cars/trucks. (We have a buggy horse and riding horses), but only use them for sport or leisure. The Amish people here in the US , only use horse and buggy for transportation, and most of them plow and tend crops with horses.
Many of us who own horses do use the manure for fertilizing gardens, (and its great for worm beds...)
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Where I live, horses could be used for transportation, but it would be safer if they didn't have to share the roads with automobiles! Most of the local roads don't have any shoulder to get off onto when a car or truck comes roaring around the corner.

In parts of Klamath Falls (the nearest large town) there are signs instructing people not to ride their horses on the sidewalks! I like living in a place like that!

Kathleen
 
Corina Graves
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I'm planing on using my horse and I as a walking farm billboard for fresh produce once Ive got boat loads coming in I have ridden my horse through many of our local fast food drive throughs and once was able to hitch next to our grocery store Many years back... BUT sadly it is actually illegal in most us states to ride your on the road or to hitch... Total bull shit if you ask me! as a horse trainer and a equine sports massage therapist I can't even begin to explain how happy it would make me for people to go back to old ways of the noble horse.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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I live in an area/community that still uses equines for significant amount of travel and work. Travel is mostly limited to local travel to hard to reach ranches in the mountains. Horses and burros are used to carry people, equipment, and materials. They aren't really practical for traveling beyond a few miles where there are decent roads.

They are also used to plow most farms around here and also for working cattle.

People don't make use of the manure much (I do). Feeding is usually through free range grazing through the village and surrounding areas. I take a bag and shovel with me when I go to the village, and collect manure off the dirt roads. It's easy to fill a 100lb feed sack with a trip through the village.

Burros are cheap here, and most people share out of a communal "herd" of burros. They roam through the village and river valley, and if you need a burro for something, you just catch one and use it. Horses have significant value, and although they free range similar to the burros, everyone respects individual ownership of the horses.
 
Lee Du
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I'm a former rodeo competitor and I've been interested in farming with draft animals since 2006. I couldn't afford horses for a while, but I have a couple of large ponies now. I'm going to put a good handle on them for riding, but I'd like to pull a manure cart and cultivator at some point.

I live close to Austin and it's dangerous to drive an auto on these over crowded roads. I often find myself wondering about living on the edge of small or tiny Texas town. I grew up in a small town, but came to the city for social reasons.

Your Bulgarian village lifestyle sounds very very nice!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Horses are still used a lot around here, too -- this is a high desert ranching community. Unfortunately, the paved roads are still rather unsafe for horse riding or for using horse-drawn vehicles, as they are narrow with no shoulders and people drive too fast.

I may, however, soon be getting a pony cart and harness, and will then be looking for a good pony of around 12 hh. There are a lot of dirt roads here where it should be reasonably safe to drive a cart, although there are some idiots who use ATV's on them and don't care if they scare your horse.

Kathleen
 
Chris Knipstein
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Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
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Here in North East Indiana we have a substantial Amish population. They use draft horses for farming and regular horses for pulling their buggies for transportation. Some areas where they live there are buggy lanes along the side of the road like bike lanes in some cities. They are just another lane on the road designated for horse and buggies only. Partially to not impede traffic and partially because horses are surprisingly really rough on asphalt roads.

A car or truck distributes its weight over the 4 tires, each tire having a footprint many square inches larger than that of a horse shoe. The horse all it's weight comes down on 1 hoof at a time and only the metal horseshoe spreading that weight out. It's basically like taking a 1,000 pound plus hammer and just beating a trail down the center of the road over and over again. It only takes a couple years for a newly paved road to establish a rut down the center a couple inches deep where the horses are going over it. A few people with horses out on the side roads it doesn't happen, but when the whole community uses them such as the main road into town that's a lot of 'hammer blows' to the road. We have hot summers which helps soften the asphalt slightly but long winter as well when the below freezing temps surely give it more strength. I suspect in the south the ruts would happen more quickly.

By law the Amish must have lights on their buggies now. There were quite a few terrible accidents at night as all the buggies are painted black. Since the Amish do not use electricity in their homes, they quickly adapted to solar power, putting panels up on the barn and using rechargeable battery systems to run the lights on the buggies.

In the Amish areas many stores (even Walmart) have long 3 sided sheds with heavy rubber mats over the pavement so the horses can be tied up out of the sun and weather and a comfortable place to stand on the mats vs the pavement.
 
Nancy Troutman
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I use an Amish buggy for transportation most of the time - and no, I am not Amish.   I have logging sporadically happening near me, motor boats, several train crossings, and other wonderful things to spook at.   I addressed these issues by downloading traffic noises off the internet, and made sure that all the reasons to spook near me were included.  In addition, I downloaded helicopters, planes, elephants, chain saws, trees falling, rattlesnakes, dogs barking, gunshots, all sorts of screeching brakes, etc.   I included silent periods followed by sudden loud sounds, birds, etc.  I would randomly order the sounds and switch out what the horse listened to.  I played these in my horse's stall, but I also made it so a Sony Walkman was playing traffic sounds when I was on the road with the buggy.  As a result, my horses are so used to sounds meaning nothing, that I have never had a major spook from any of my buggy horses.  I purchased the present horse already broken, but when I bought green horses and broke them to harness, I trained them without blinders.   I never saw the wisdom in blinding a horse that you used on the road.

Oh, and I put strobe lights, Christmas lights, and some weird light thing that dances & changes color with music.   It splashes light around based on the sound it hears.   Ask someone smarter than me how it works, but my horses are well acclimated to stimulation.   In fact, the time when they are least stimulated is when we are on the road.

There is a sense of oneness with nature when your not using a motor for transportation.   Hard to describe actually, but I feel like I am building a trust with nature that I don't have with the truck.  I feel like I am cooperating with nature when I go motor-less.  To me, it is a romantic feeling.  I do have a truck, but I use it so little that the last time I put gas in the tank was in May when I went to Ohio, and it has a full tank.   I group errands when I do leave the property.  My insurance bill twice a year is actually about the same as what I pay in gas for the same period.   Also, my truck is not nearly as much fun as Blackie - my present horse.   (Previous horse's name was Red, one before that Patches - I know, I stink at naming critters.)

I have never had anything with a motor follow me around like a puppy dog.   Nothing with a motor greets me when it sees me.   Yea, it has it downsides.   Not once has anything with a motor tried to follow me into WalMart (yes, this happened).   And nothing with a motor has wrenched my heart when I had to put it to sleep.   The only thing in common between my horse & my truck, is that both fake that nothing is wrong when a mechanic/vet is nearby.   Oh, and the exhaust from my horse builds earth - not depletes it.  

I use Blackie to haul logs from the woods to be used for firewood and do other chores my truck cannot do.   She also is an early warning system for bad weather.   When the 2012 derecho passed through my property, I had a 20 minute heads up that something was wrong.   Blackie, my goats, chickens and my dog all suddenly demanded to be beside me.  It was a beautiful sunny day, I saw no reason for their behavior.  But I opened up the barn.   I had just closed the barn when I heard a freight train - followed by loud crashing sounds as objects flew and hit the barn.   I thought it was a tornado.   Sadly, several in my state lost their lives when a boat capsized because they were not warned.

There is work involved with owning a horse for transportation.   But quite frankly, there is work involved in owning a truck too.   Unless you are a trust fund baby, the money you pay to keep it on the road, maintenance, gas, insurance, etc. comes from somewhere.   For most of us we earn those $$$ by the labor of our hands.   By that criteria, I am sure my horse is just as cheap as a vehicle.
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Devin Lavign
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What sort of incline can a horse buggy do?

I would love to have a horse buggy, but have some rather steep hills to get to and from my property.
 
Susan Quinlan
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Devon, you are on a long road with this if you have no experience.  Buggies, carts, and wagons are the most dangerous equine venture there is.  However, there are some great animals out there and if you find someone to help you who has the time and skills it would be great.  The horse can go up extremely steep grades and mules even better. The buggy  
I admire your willingness to consider horses. 
When filming the war seen in the Lord of The Rings movie most of the riders were actually women. They were unable to find male riders. 70% of the hoarse market is now women.
 
Devin Lavign
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I am not unfamiliar with horses or mules. I have ridden horses and mules quite a bit in my life as well as I worked in a stable until I realized the owner was abusive to the animals.

It is the horse cart/buggy and it's ability to negotiate hills I am unfamiliar with.
 
Nancy Troutman
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Devin Lavign wrote:I am not unfamiliar with horses or mules. I have ridden horses and mules quite a bit in my life as well as I worked in a stable until I realized the owner was abusive to the animals.

It is the horse cart/buggy and it's ability to negotiate hills I am unfamiliar with.


My horse is a Percheron Draft horse, and weighs in at 1,900 pounds.    The rule of thumb is that a horse can pull 4x its weight.   This means she can pull 7,600 pounds.

What I just told you is a lot of... uhmm...  B.S.   Whoever makes up these stats has never met my horse, or yours for that matter.

Here is my rule of thumb.   Let the horse tell you what they can pull.   I live on top of a mountain and have nothing but hills and steeper hills.   When I first got her, she got pooped pulling just her own weight up and down the mountains.  She was more accustomed to the rolling hills of Berlin Ohio, not the steep hills and long slopes of Maryland.  I would stop and let her rest until her nostrils relaxed.   In other words, start light and slowly increase so the horse gets in shape.   I let her have her head except to tell her when to turn, slow down, or stop.   This means she picked her speed.   If she wanted to walk - or trot, I allowed it.   Unlike a saddle horse, a buggy horse is generally allowed to set their own pace.   For the most part, except for show animals like the Budweiser Clydesdales, buggy horses are given their heads.   I find a great many want to start a hill fast and slow down.

Here are my adjustments to the rig based on steep hills:

1.  The check rein should be looser on a horse that pulls on a lot of hills.   They gain a lot of leverage with their head down.   The purpose of the check rein is to keep your horse from putting their head down and snatching grass, but it also keeps their head from going below the chest level.   It needs to prevent the horse from putting their head below the chest for safety reasons; however, they should be able to hold their head level to the body - especially if they are navigating hills.
2.  The horse needs to be allowed to develop their own technique for pulling the buggies up hills.   For instance, many will speed up when approaching a hill then slowly back down to a walk.   Allow them to do so.   Your horse is the best judge of how to negotiate a hill.   Since they are doing the work, allow them to do so.   My horse Blackie treats different hills we encounter differently.  
3.  Saddle horses are taught to move away from pain.   This is actually counter to their instinct and is taught until it is second nature to the horse.   Buggy horses are not taught this, it is a different discipline entirely.   Buggy horses are not only encouraged to keep this instinct, but it can save the life of the horse and driver.   Hollywood's depiction of a driver whipping their horses on to get as much speed out of them is... well... Hollywood.   If I started whipping Blackie, she would slow down and stop.   This will help you to understand.   The wild horse feels a sharp pain... if it pulls away from that pain, even if it survives the predator - it will be left with a large gaping wound that will kill it eventually.   However, if the horse immediately turns into the pain, the horse avoids a serious wound and has a good chance of killing the predator.   An experienced driver who has an out of control horse WHIPS the horse to get it to slow down.   What I just said is counter to horseback riders are taught.   Amish do not mix disciplines on a horse.   If it was ridden, it shouldn't be driven.
4.  Whatever buggy you pick, make sure it has working brakes.   Think of this picture - you know those children's swing sets that just have a soft strap?   Think about sitting on one of those straps and not being able to adjust it.   Eventually it will feel uncomfortable to you.  The harness is most comfortable when the horse is pulling.   Never allow the butt strap - which holds back the buggy from pushing into the horse to be the braking system on hills.   I keep an eye on the hold-back strap, it should gently flex when going downhill.   A very light 2 wheel buggy without brakes is actually harder on your horse than a 4-wheel buggy with them.  In other words, your horse should pull the buggy BOTH downhill as well as uphill.
5.   When your horse needs a breather going uphill, apply the brakes so that your horse is not "resting" but having to hold the buggy from rolling backwards.  
6.  Unlike saddle horses, buggy horses should be allowed to decide whether to walk or trot.
7.   Create a signal, for my horses it is a tap on the fanny with a whip, that until the horse feels that, they are not allowed to move forward.   This should not be a verbal cue.  Reason is, that you don't want the horse moving while people get in and out of the buggy.  Flipping the reins is a common signal, but I discourage it.   Reason is, that you gathering up the reins can feel like a flip to the horse.
8.   Horses like to move for the most part.   So when they don't want to move or pull, you should back off on your demands.

It took Blackie about 3 months to be in shape where she took the mountains in my area in stride.   Now she wants to trot everywhere, including up a 3 mile long fairly steep hill.

One more thing.   If a horse pulls but seems to do so by either zig-zagging or side stepping...  one of 2 things is happening.   The horse was required in the past to pull too much weight, or it is pulling too much weight now.   If it pulls straight normally, but then wants to zig zag up a hill.   Get your horse in better shape before trying the hill again.   If the horse continuously is zig-zagging back and forth, it was ruined by a previous owner.   To be honest, I do not have a solution for this horse because this was how it was taught to pull.  

I hope this helps, and I hope you post pictures if you do get a buggy horse.   Trust me, it heals the soul.
 
Devin Lavign
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Thank you Nancy that was a fabulous answer. I had been doing some research in between asking and getting this answer. And funny thing I found was a cycling forum which was discussing the road grades and how the older roads from horse days actually had steeper grades than modern roads. Some were quite extreme from what they were talking about.

It was quite fascinating to read some of the discussion and mention of horse carts and buggies doing quite well on decently steep inclines.

Your answer too has has given me some hope that I will be able to eventually get a buggy and make horse and buggy my main mode of travel.

Still a ways off, but knowing it is possible I can start making plans for it and look for where to get proper horses and buggy. Sadly not a lot of Amish in WA, but I do have plenty of family in Iowa and might end up looking there and hauling it back to WA.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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