IGDF Chariot Race, Here We Come!!
As some of you may have heard, Phil and I have our sights set on taking our goats to the International Goat Days Festival in Millington, TN in September for the annual goat chariot race! Last week a friend did some minor work on our goat carts so they can now be converted from sit-down carts to standing or kneeling chariots! Because of the way these carts are designed, the work to make them convertible was really quite simple. The axles were already removable, so all that had to be done was to remove the seats and add some metal brackets so the axles can be relocated to a more forward position. Of course, we have not yet added panels to make these look like bona fide chariots, but we took them out for our first test drive on Saturday. 

Sputnik was the hero of the test driving event. This goat knows his job and he really puts his heart into it! Finn has been less cooperative about driving (or working much at all) recently, so we decided to harness him up but not drive him. Finn got to walk alongside and watch how Sputnik does things. I have to say, Sputnik was a perfect example of how a driving goat should go. He was eager but relaxed, wanted to trot but was obedient to the reins, and he didn't balk at barking dogs, geese, cars, golfers, or anything else we encountered on our drive. He was a good, good boy!      

For the actual race, contestants always kneel. I need to add some padding to the front rail and the floor to make this position comfortable. 

Although it was much less stable, I thought standing was a lot more fun! Finn would like you to think he is pulling the chariot in this photo.

Since I knew that my balance would be an issue, I drove Sputnik in a halter so as to avoid hurting his mouth in the event of any accidental rein-pulling. Sputnik was very excited and wanted to trot most of the way, so I did get "left behind" the motion a couple of times when he would go straight from a stop to an eager trot. At those moments I was glad for his sake that I opted to use the halter!  

Phil generally preferred to kneel. I think he's ready to race!

Sputnik says, "What the heck are you doing back there? Can we go yet??"

Sputnik has gotten so big lately that the cart tips back noticeably even with the shafts adjusted to the taller height. I lowered the shaft loops a hole, but from looking at the photos I should probably lower them some more. When figuring out the forward placement for the axle, I was thinking so much about keeping weight off the goats' backs that we may have gotten them too far forward. We did our measurements with the shafts level, but with our goats as tall as they are, these carts will always tip back a bit, throwing our weight further back than we anticipated. Phil particularly had a tendency to tip backwards because he likes to sit on his haunches when he kneels. Sputnik thankfully didn't care whether the shafts pulled up or down on his harness. He was just happy to be the center of everyone's attention (and cookies)!
Why is there a deer antler in the front of the chariot? This International Goat Days Festival sounds like a blast?
Phil put that deer antler there within a week of getting the cart for Christmas 13 years ago. It turned out to be a handy rein holder! Unfortunately, as cool as it looks, we'll definitely be removing it for future chariot driving. It's a potential safety hazard if you accidentally pitch forward during a sudden stop. We had several very sudden stops on this first drive! Sputnik was eager to go, but since he was also obedient to the reins he would screech to a halt any time one of us lost our balance and accidentally pulled back. These trot-halt transitions sent us pitching suddenly forward and we both had to put hands out to catch ourselves on Sputnik's hindquarters on one or two occasions. Thankfully he didn't seem to mind a bit. I'm pretty sure he was laughing at us. I'm going to get some broom handles and hose clamp one to the right front side of each chariot so we have a solid handle to grab.
Forward HOOOOOOOOO! And loose the goats of war!

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HA! Nice one Charlie Horse! Phil and I are not yet sure whether to go with the Scandinavian theme or a Roman theme. Both have goat chariots in their lore. Maybe Phil can be Thor and I can be Juno. Then we'll have both cultures represented.
Lovely pics Nanno. Are they your easy entry carts that you've converted - the ones with the shafts that can be adjusted for height?
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap
Yes, these are our easy entry carts. They're super easy to convert! The axle can be moved back and forth just by removing a cotter pin, and the seat comes on and off with four bolts. Although I doubt the manufacturer had this in mind, this cart was designed perfectly for chariot conversion! I can't wait to start designing panels. I know Phil will want to use red as his primary color, and I'll probably go with green or blue. Sputnik looks great in purple, but purple isn't my favorite. The main thing I need is a set of spikes on the wheel hubs so I can demolish my competition! Big Grin
I read about that race in one of my goat books. Sounds like a blast!

I'll have to have another look at our easy-entry cart. I want to see if the shafts can be raised at all for when Koby grows taller.
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap
If the shafts can't be raised, you might be able to buy bigger wheels.
I'm getting better at balancing on this thing in a standing position. Not great, but better! I lowered the shaft loops on Sputnik's harness. It kept the chariot from tipping back so easily.

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