Carriage drivers - 2 vs 4 wheels

Nudibranch

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21 April 2007
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Up North
I've just sold my two wheeler as my chunkster Fell is a bit wide really, and as there are now 3 of us wanting to go out for a drive I would like some more room on board. I'm fairly set on getting a Bellcrown with backstep, but then I've started looking at 4 wheelers and being quite tempted. It would also give me the (admittedly unlikely given available time at present) option to compete.

Are there any big advantages or disadvantages of 4 wheels? I know some people are adamant they're potentially more dangerous but then others prefer the stability. The main issue may well be difficulty of transport I guess...
 

katastrophykat

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24 November 2011
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I’ve tipped one, but to be fair I was going some! And a friend has just tipped a two wheeler and incurred very similar injuries to me... so I don’t worry about stability. 😄
For me, I’d look at a few things-
can you balance a two wheeler effectively with three people on board? Will it be comfortable for the pony?
storage- do you have space?
transport- does it fit where you need it to?
Cost- a decent four wheeler is usually more than a two wheeler
Weight- three adults plus a carriage of approx 140-180 kilos
Terrain- on road/off road?
And if(!) you’re someone who occasionally goes out without a groom, I’d say a two wheeler is easier. *i still wouldn’t ever do it* but less risk of Jack knifing etc if you do.
good luck!
 

scruffyponies

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NW Hampshire
Biggest disadvantage is that they jack-knife quite easily if the pony goes backwards. Also much easier to tip up if you come down a banking and make a turn, for example. Once the wheels are 'on sideways' the weight of the driver can be enough to have it over.
On the plus side, they're not usually any heavier, and there's no weight on the shafts, so you don't need to worry about balance like you do with a gig. The turntable is usually further forward than the axle on a gig, which gives you a shorter turning circle, and makes it that bit more manoeuvrable - I have a very tight gap to do on one of my drives and can confirm that it's easier to get a pair and a 4 wheeler through it than a single in a 2 wheeler the same width, which surprised me.

Other things to consider are the swingletree height, which is really low on some modern 4 wheelers, and can easily clip the horse's hocks, and the position of the breechng dees, which I have found to be way too far forward on some of the adjustable shafts.
 

Baroque

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25 February 2013
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Way down west
I have a Bellcrown with backstep. It has a winding handle so that you can change the balance quickly when someone hops on the back. Even so, getting that perfect balance does take a little dedication to get spot on. Once you get practised, it's a doodle.

They are not known for the quality of their paintwork but other than that they are pretty tough and I like mine rather a lot. The big wheels make pot-holed tracks fair game too, which opens up all sorts of adventures!

BUT...your backstepper will need good arm muscles as the step itself is not very deep. No problem on smooth roads but quite challenging on the rough or going up steep hills. If you can try one before committing you could see if this would be a problem. Pity you're so far away, you'd be welcome to try mine.
 

Leo Walker

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Northampton
I wont drive a 2 wheeler unless I have to. I hate them! I find them nearly impossible to get in and out of, and they just feel unstable to me compared to 4 wheelers. I see people say about jack knifing sometimes but I think you would have to be in a pretty extreme situation to do it, KK being a good example of extreme situations as she is very quick even in driving trials terms! The ones I've had had all had stops on so they cant go passed the point of no return under normal circumstances.

There are places I go that I dont think would be suitable for a 2 wheeler. My little 4 wheeler is like a 4x4. I can take it anywhere and know it will be ok. Mine is incredibly smooth and comfortable to drive in.

A 4 wheeler is easier to move about, easier to hitch up, easier to balance and fit and carries more people. They do take up more room but are easier to store as they dont need putting on shaft stands etc. They are definitely more maneuverable.

They are more considerably more expensive though and they are more of a faff to find transport for pony and carriage together.
 

rabatsa

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18 September 2007
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Yorkshire
If you have hilly terrain then a 4 wheeler with brakes can help going downhill. With a novice pony/horse I use a 2 wheeler but do like a 4 wheeler for everyday driving. You can have a groom hop on and off a 4 wheeler back far easier than a 2 wheeler and the balance is not an issue.
 

Leo Walker

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I had a 2 wheeler with a backstep, not a Bellcrown but a very similar one. I got it for breaking mine and it has done the rounds of people for similar jobs but no one ever seems to keep it long term. Its nice enough, well made and nicely balanced, but its just not that practical. The backstep is really handy for starting young ponies but is absolutely awful for driving on for very long. The backstep has to stand and ends up hanging on on a tiny step. It doesnt make people keen to come out with you!

Go for the 4 wheeler and get yourself to some indoor stuff over the winter. In fact if you can go to your closest indoor event and hve a look at the carriages people are using. I was going to post loads of photos, but it makes much more sense to go and see a few in the flesh
 
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