This is a tricky issue. Most carts DO have a seat that slides forward and back which allows you to dial in on the overall balance. BUT if you have a cart that doesn’t have a sliding seat, such as a show cart, certain wooden easy entry carts, a sulky style cart, or a homemade metal cart, then you can achieve balance in a few different ways.
The trick will be to keep the weight off the horse. So if your cart wants to tip towards the horse then you will either put the horse closer to the cart, if you can, or use the cart on a bigger horse.
If your cart wants to tip up when you sit in the seat, then you would want to put the horse farther away from the cart, pushing it out towards the ends of the shafts, if you can. If you can’t then use that cart on a smaller horse!
A few tips from a few of our HorseDrivers!
“I have a road cart with straight wooden shafts. We drilled new holes in the shaft poles and moved the seat that way. I sat in the cart, to check weight and we moved the seat until I could sit in it and the cart pretty much balanced itself.” Diane~
“I once got pretty close in the balance of my cart, but couldn’t get it perfect. Barb Lee looked at me and said ‘Put your shoulders back.’ Nailed it.” Merridy~
“You may also be able to move the axel forward or backward.” Sue~
Basically you need to be able to move something when dialing in on the balance. If you aren’t sure if your cart is balancing well, have someone video you while driving. You can watch the shafts in the shaft loops and see how your pony or horse is handling pulling the cart, from a different perspective.
Often if your horse or pony has some pressure points under the harness saddle you will find that your cart is not well balanced and is putting too much weight on their back.
To check your cart balance- have someone, close to your size, sit in the seat, then you hold the shafts at the same height that they will be when run through the shaft loops on your horse or pony. Ideally there will be very little weight (or no weight!) in your hands. If you find you have to push the shafts down then the cart is not balanced, as it will pull up on your horse or pony’s tummy. If the shafts are heavy then the cart is not balanced and that weight will be on your horse or pony’s back.
And as always feel free to post a photo or video of your pony and cart over on our Facebook page, HorseDriver! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to trouble shoot.