Singletrees and Eveners

A Post on Eveners from Janie Amdal

I certainly wasn’t born knowing  about Single Trees, Eveners and Double Trees.  It took me awhile to sort out just what they did, how they do it, and why I need to know.  And, I’ve learned from my customers that most people were also not born with this knowledge.  That has been the impetus for me to learn about them, so I can share with you!  So, to get you started, here is an introductory guide to singletrees and eveners!

There are discussions on line, knowledgeable drivers everywhere who will enjoy telling you what they know and the experiences they’ve had driving.  If you should still have questions you can’t answer yourself, and I can’t answer them I know how to find the answers.

What is a singletree?

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary a single tree is a bar attached at the center of the hitch on a wagon, carriage or plow which is hooked at either end to the traces of the horse’s harness. The function of the single is to balance the weight being pulled.  The singletree is mounted on a post or pin at the hitch point of the vehicle so that it can pivot.  That is it’s entire job!  The name singletree came from the same medieval word of the same use.  Regionally it is called a whiffletree as well, or sometimes even a horsebeam.

How does a singletree work? 

The action of a singletree is to balance the pull on the animals alternate shoulders as he walks.Singletrees ares used especially when the animal is in a breast collar harness, because uneven pulling can cause sore shoulders and an uneven gait. At least it makes more work and exertion for the animal as he pulls.  As the horse steps forward with the left foot, the single tree moves forward on the left side.  As the horse steps out with his right foot the singletree pivots on the right.  n addition to making the pull more even the single tree also makes the ride more even as well.

A singletree is needed less for an animal in a horse collar as the pull does not pass over the shoulders in the same way. For this reason, heavier vehicles may have no singletree as they are normally pulled with a horse collar or with multiple draft animals.

Are different styles for different purposes?  How do I hook up my single tree? 

Singletrees come in various sizes, styles and applications.  Two of the most common styles of buggy singletrees used in light driving are what are referred to as the “hook end” (or cockeye end) and the “sword end” singletree.  Both are designed for use with traces and a single a driving harness, whether on a cart or light buggy.

The hook or “cockeye” is threaded into the end of the wooden singletree, while a cast iron ferrule is placed over the wood end to prevent the singletree from splitting when it is pulled on.  A metal single tree will use single tree hooks in the same way. You will need to have a ring on your single tree to attach to the hook.

Wooden “Sword” end single trees are simply tapered wood ends which fit inside the slots on the end of your trace.  Slip the trace onto the single tree end – you should have a small leather string coming up thru the single tree and a small hole a little farther on. Once the trace slot is over the singletree, simply put the leather tie over the trace and drop the end thru the hole.  The trace will stay just where it belongs.

Heavier duty single trees are used with multiples.

What if I’m driving multiple animals?

Doubletrees are a set of two singletrees fastened to an evener bar to which a pair – or team – is hitched. The evener allows the equalization of pull to be distributed between the two animals, unlike the European style hitch which hooks each animal to a solid bar.  The bar is often called a beam.


Eveners can be designed for use in many configurations and can be made heavy enough for even really large loads. Think Pulling Competitions with TONS of weight!

How do I know if my harness work with the singletree on my new cart/wagon/carriage?

The short answer is that it will.  Look at the single tree on the new vehicle.  Decide whether it has hooks or a sword end on the single tree.  Look at your harness.  For sword end you need slot traces.  If you have something else you just need an adapter which will hook into your traces and provide a slot to use.  If you have slots and need a ring to use with a hook,  you need an adapter that will hook into the slots on your traces and provide you with a ring.  Adapters are inexpensive and handy.

Some harnesses, like comfy fit, come standard with traces which incorporate both a ring and a slot so you they are ready to use with either style.

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7 thoughts on “Singletrees and Eveners

  1. Jerry Sykes says:

    I am 72. As a kid growing up in the Mississippi Delta mules were going out and tractors in. However I saw a lot of mule use and the equipment used in cotton farming for them. Interesting post, thanks.

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