What are the Differences in Team Horse Driving?

Pair of Horses Driving

Are you looking to drive a team of horses? There are several variations of team horse driving. In this article each variation will be described.

 

Pair: The pair team of horses is a team of two horses. The horses are hitched side by side with the pole between them. This is the most common variation of a team of two horses.

 

Troika:  The troika is a variation for a team of three horses. They are hitched in a single row. The center horse is hitched to the shafts of the cart. The remaining two horses flank the center horse and are hitched to the side.

 

Tandem:  The tandem hitch is for a team of two or more horses. The horses are hitched in a single file and the rear horse is hitched to the shafts of the cart. The other horse or horses are hitched ahead of the rear horse in single file.

 

Four in Hand:  The four in hand are hitched as two pairs. So the two rear horses are hitched side by side with a pole between them and then the two lead horses are hitched side by side in front of the rear pair.

 

Six in Hand:  The six in hand are hitched as three pairs. So the two rear horses are hitched side by side with a pole between them.  Then the two center horses are hitched side by side in front of the rear pair. Next, the two lead pairs are hitched side by side in front of the center pair.

 

Eight in Hand:  The eight in hand are hitched as four pairs. The two rear horses are hitched side by side with a pole between them. Then the two back/ center horses are hitched side by side in front of the rear pair. Next, the two front/ center horses are hitched side by side in front of the back/ center pair. After that, the two lead pairs are hitched side by side in front of the front/center pair.

 

Unicorn:  The unicorn hitch is a variation of the pairs hitch. Typically this hitch is when there is a pair rear team and a single lead horse. The pair is hitched side by side with the pole in between them. Then a single lead horse is hitched in front of the rear pair, hence the term unicorn.

 

Pickaxe:  The pickaxe hitch is a variation of the pairs hitch. Typically this hitch is when there is a rear pair and three lead horses. The pair is hitched side by side with the pole in between them and then the three lead horses are hitched side by side in front of the rear pair.

 

Twenty-Mule Team:  The twenty-mule team was used in the middle of the 19th century for hauling ore and borax mainly in California. The teams typically consisted of 18 mules (9 pairs) and 2 horses (1 pair). The team was hitched in as a pair hitch with the rear pair hitched side by side with the pole in between them. Then each subsequent pair was hitched in front. These large teams of horses/ mules were used to pull extremely heavy loads. Today this type of team has been replaced with trains, trucks and other machinery.   

 

When working a team of horses, mules, or donkeys the key to a successful team is to ensure that the pair works well together. When putting together your team take each member’s personality, skill, strength, and athleticism into account. The wheelers are the pair of horses or single horse that is closet to your vehicle. These horses provide the braking power for the whole rig. The wheelers must be your strongest horses, because the load weight will be determined by the braking power of these horses or horse.The wheelers also steer the vehicle by turning the pole or the shafts. The leaders are the horses or horse that is hitched in front of your wheelers. These horses or horse do not provide any braking power to the vehicle, however they provide additional pulling power when traveling uphill.  So keep all these factors in mind when putting together your driving team. Once your team is assembled, the only thing left to do is to GET DRIVING! Check out our Driving Harnesses today at SaddleOnline.com!

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