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Harness & wagon fitting queries - Printable Version

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Harness & wagon fitting queries - DownUnder Gal - 01-07-2017

Yesterday we hooked Koby up to our garden wagon that Mark had converted with a home made shaft assembly. The results were mixed. Koby, bless him, was very patient and long-suffering while we fiddled around trying to get everything fitting correctly.  He didn't go bananas when we hitched him to the squeaky wagon but neither was he very impressed because there were 'wardrobe malfunctions'. I think I've an idea what the issues are but at the risk of embarrassing myself I'm going to ask what I think might be some pretty basic questions about correctly fitting harnesses and wagons.  Maybe there are others out there who will benefit from the answers  Confused  Nanno, would you please advise re the following?

1. On a four-wheeled vehicle (small garden wagon in this case, pretty similar to yours and Phil's) is it acceptable for the shafts to be pointing up quite markedly?

Koby is quite a tall goat and the height differential between (i) the connecting point of the shaft assembly to the wagon and (ii) the end of the shafts at Koby's shoulders is 25 inches. This means that the shafts are pointing decidedly upward and as such it is difficult to keep the shaft wraps and shaft loops vertically aligned. The shafts definitely do not 'float' in the shaft loops.  Does this mean that there will be unacceptable pressure on Koby's back? Nanno, I noticed that the pole between your goats on your team set-up also angles upwards somewhat but my shafts are angled even more so. I can't see a way around it given the difference between the height of the goat and that of the wagon. But I also note in your harness handout that sometimes the shaft wraps and the shaft loops can buckle together. I can probably do this with my Hoeggers harness but it's not going to fix the angle of the shafts.

2.  Is there a rule of thumb regarding where the footman loops should be situated on the shafts? We need to put some on, however weren't sure how to correctly measure where they should go. Or does the location not matter so much as the tension of the holdback straps once they're passed through the footman loops?  I imagine it shouldn't be measured to a landmark on the goat because different sized goats will potentially use the wagon. We ended up taking the britchen off completely yesterday because without the footman loops the holdback straps just slid along the shafts and were not only useless, they became a bit of a hazard - to the point where when I turned Koby the britchen slid off his rump to one side.

3. Should the singletree have complete freedom of movement? We copied a design from a book I have, only to find that each end hits either side of the front of the wagon when Koby took a step. There's simply not much play in its movement due to the fittings we used. Probably not so much of an issue for a mini-goat (with mini steps) but it seems to be a problem for a large-ish animal like Koby. So Mark has temporarily added a length of nylon rope between the u-bolt on the front of the wagon and the eyebolt at the middle of the singletree. This works well and allows Koby's shoulders free movement but at rest and when unhitched the singletree hangs down below the front of the wagon. It didn't get caught yesterday but I'm concerned it might one day - I suppose the tension of the traces will be key (which is another issue - they seem to be about 12 inches too short).  I'll try to get some photos to show you what I mean. Nanno, I noticed that when driving pairs your double-tree originates from down below the wagon, not on the front of the wagon itself. Is this required due to the width of the doubletree and therefore is not required for a singletree (the latter being somewhat narrower)?

Thanks for your help!

RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - Sanhestar - 01-07-2017

Please post photos, this will make it much easier to comment :-)

RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - DownUnder Gal - 01-07-2017

OK - no laughing now! This is a screen shot from a video we took yesterday. We don't have any photos of Koby hitched up. The shafts are made of electrical conduit so they are toughened plastic and very strong but with a small amount of flex. I might ask Mark to replace the rounded joins with square elbows at the back (near the singletree).  This arrangement will only be used on our property.

As already mentioned, we needed to temporarily remove the britchen due to slippage; this was no big deal as we were only walking around the garden. We also extended the traces with nylon rope until I can sort something more permanent out.

The singletree has already been doctored in this photo, i.e. a few lengths of nylon rope placed between the u-bolt on the front of the wagon and the eyebolt on the singletree.

The shaft wraps have slid back to about where I think the footman loop might need to be attached for the holdback straps. Does this sound right? We didn't spend long wrapping the shaft wraps super tightly in case Koby went bonkers once hitched and we needed to undo it all in a hurry.  Fortunately this wasn't necessary but you can see he's a bit nervous by his tail (or perhaps the shafts are putting too much pressure on his back?).

Is the angle of the shafts too steep?  If so, what, if anything, can I do to rectify this? At the current angle I don't think the shaft loops and shaft wraps would stay aligned for very long unless they were buckled to, or somehow looped through, each other. The shaft loops are on the second last (lowest) hole.


RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - Sanhestar - 01-08-2017

Just a few, short ideas, I'm off to the ponies:

I would place the single tree UNDER the shafts.

Also, I would reshape the shafts to have a straight small end, not a bend one. More like this |_|

The angle so far is ok.

What I don't know is what you mean with shaft wraps. Maybe I know this under another term.

RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - Sanhestar - 01-08-2017

you might want to look at how they solved it here

RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - Nanno - 01-08-2017

That's not embarrassing, it's great! You get nowhere unless you're willing to experiment a little because almost nothing is perfect "out of the box" (especially when it comes to driving goats!). And Koby is lovely too by the way.

Your shafts are fine. The shafts are for stopping and turning the wagon, not pulling it, so from a mechanical standpoint, slanted shafts are not a problem. The angle on yours is not extreme. Having the back part of the shafts rounded is not a problem either, but if you used elbow joints to create right angles then you could probably shorten your traces a touch since there would be a little more room behind Koby's legs.

In a 4-wheeled vehicle the shafts should not "float" in the shaft loops. "Floating" is how you measure balance on a 2-wheeled cart. A 4-wheeled wagon supports its own weight, so the goat has to hold up the shafts (which are not heavy enough to worry about). For this reason you don't actually even need shaft wraps on a 4-wheeled wagon. Shaft wraps prevent a 2-wheeled vehicle from tipping backwards when you lean back on the seat or if you go up a hill. I believe you can remove them from the Hoegger's harness and that's exactly what I would do in this case. Just don't forget to put them back on when you put Koby to the 2-wheeled cart! In fact, you may want to buckle them through the footman loops on your 2-wheeler so you don't forget.

It doesn't matter too much where the footman loops go as long as they are far enough back that they don't interfere with the placement of your shaft loops (some footman loops are positioned so that you slide the shaft loops all the way back until they hit them); and also that they are far enough forward to be an effective anchor for your holdbacks. With a goat Koby's size, you definitely don't want to put them too far forward because your holdbacks won't reach. Also don't get them so far back that you have to take up five wraps worth of slack.

Your singletree is actually just fine in the photo. It does not need to swing freely and will be safer if it doesn't. Most only have a couple of inches of play in them--just enough to accommodate movement without allowing the singletree to ricochet wildly back and forth. So you can probably take out those loops of rope you used to lengthen the distance between the singletree and wagon. I like the height of your single tree. It should be as close to the level of your breastcollar as reasonably possible. The doubletree on my team hitch is lower than I like, but that is because it's fastened directly to the wagon tongue instead of to the front of the wagon. If I had welding skills I would attach a bracket to the front of the wagon frame that would hold the doubletree, but since I don't have those skills I think I'll just leave it on the tongue. A low tree attachment is designed for animals using a collar and hames, not breastcollars, so definitely don't attach the singletree under the shafts.

RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - DownUnder Gal - 01-09-2017

Thank you both for the time you have taken to provide information and explanations to help me. It is SO helpful. I really appreciate your kind encouragement Smile I'll make some adjustments and send some further pics.

RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - DownUnder Gal - 01-12-2017

I'm off to the hardware suppliers this afternoon to source some more bits and pieces for the shaft assembly. I want to change the back end, where it attaches to the wagon, from curved to square. Does it matter if the width of the shaft assembly at the back is a little wider than the wagon itself? i.e. if the piece of the assembly running parallel to the front panel of the wagon is a little wider than that panel? I'm going to try to get it to match the width but it might depend on the parts I can get.

RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - Nanno - 01-12-2017

It's fine if the shafts are wider than the wagon. The biggest drawback to having it square will be that it's more likely to hit the wagon box on a sharp turn. On the other hand, preventing the wagon from being able to turn too sharply is a safety feature since these things can tip if they turn to tight. You'll just have to play around with it and figure out what works best with the materials you have. Good luck!

RE: Harness & wagon fitting queries - DownUnder Gal - 01-13-2017

Got it - thanks Nanno. I think what I've bought is going to give me the best of both worlds. Now ... to put it together ...