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Winter Fun – Sledding safely!

If you live where it snows you know just how fun winter can be. Cold and snow can make life a bit difficult so I am grateful there are fun winter activities to off set all the work!

There are a few things you can do to enjoy the snow and one of them is sledding! But not in the traditional way… this is sledding with our horses or ponies! I will share how I go about doing this, and look forward to hearing how you enjoy winter with your equine.

I wanted to be able to attach shafts to my calf sled so I went to a friend that is handy with a welder and had him make me a “shaft attachment”. You can read all about mine and how it is made here: My One Horse Open Sleigh

This attachment made it so I could take the shafts off my Kingston Easy Entry cart and put them on my sled. Then I was able to enjoy many hours of fun dashing through the snow!

This is a vehicle that requires a collar and hames because the line of draft is so low. I chose a low line of draft for my sled because when the pony goes into draft and leans into the collar the front of the sled is lifted out of the snow. If the line of draft was high and horizontal the front of the sled went DOWN when they leaned into the breast collar and the snow piled up and over into the sled, making it harder and harder for my ponies to pull it. That is probably due to the type of heavy wet snow we get and the fact that I do a lot of sledding in the pasture, where the snow is deep!

Last winter I did use my smaller sled and a single tree. I didn’t have any shafts with that set up. It’s not the safest way to sled for sure! I would not go much faster than a trot with that set up as there is little control of the sled behind the pony. It would be very easy to have the sled “run away” and smash into the back of the pony since there aren’t any shafts to hold it back off the pony. It’s also possible to have it go up beside the pony and attempt to pass it. For these two reasons I used it in the deeper snow and we never went faster than a trot.

I used the single tree from my Kingston Saddlery easy entry cart. **Do note that I had tied that single tree on each end because I didn’t want it to swing too far. BUT this caused Zorro to be very sore in the shoulders! He was so sore he had some swelling and bruising on the front of his shoulders the next day. SINGLE TREES ARE VERY IMPORTANT AND SHOULD ALWAYS BE USED WHEN DRIVING A HORSE OR PONY OR DONKEY OR MULE!!! Sorry to yell, but that was a very important lesson I learned last winter. I have had people tell me that a single tree isn’t necessary when using a collar and hames but I found out that is simply not true. A single tree is always necessary. And making sure it can swing with the horse or ponies shoulder movement is key. You can see in the video above that mine wasn’t able to fully swing forward and even though the sled was light weight it had a negative effect. So hopefully others can learn from my mistake!

I have since purchased this single tree: https://chimacumtack.com/product/1245-pipe-single-tree-with-block/ It works well with my little sled and when I want to have a single pony pull a tire. I got mine in red to make me feel a bit more festive in the winter. So far this winter we haven’t had enough snow for sledding but I am looking forward to getting it out again!

I know some people like to do skijoring with their horses and ponies. I am accident prone so am not allowed to do this. But it would be great if someone has some photos and information about doing this! If you do please email me at marketing@chimacumtack.com. That would make a wonderful winter post as well!

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