More Tips About Using Horse And Carriage Transportation

Shaun Ann Eddy revisits her original article to offer additional tips about using horse and carriage transportation.

| March/April 1975

Horse and carriage transportation

I hope these additional pointers will be helpful to anyone who is considering a horse and buggy as a means of transportation.


I've been reading over my article on the horse and buggy in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 30 and would like to offer a few additional hints ... since I find that I've assumed knowledge of some points which might prove disastrous to a novice starting out with a rig.

Tips for Using Horse and Carriage Transportation

[1] A horse drawn carriage driven on ice in the winter and hot asphalt in the summer needs borium dripped on the bottoms of his shoes. This treatment prevents slipping (and possible leg damage) and saves wear on the metal. Ask your blacksmith about this precaution ... not all of them apply the borium routinely.

[2] I mentioned that harness should be dipped twice a year to preserve it. Actually, the process is more than a dip, it's an overnight soaking of the leather in warm oil. Cut open a large drum, place it over a burner, partly fill the container with oil, heat the contents gently, and add the harness (be sure all straps are submerged). Brush the collar with the same lubricant ... and resign yourself to getting your hands greasy every time you use the gear for the next month.

[3] The only regular maintenance a buggy should need (apart from an annual repainting) is the spring chore of tightening the metal rim that protects the wooden wheel. This band — called the tire — expands and contracts with changes of temperature and moisture and when the weather warms up I can expect to hear the clacking sound of a loose rim. The noise warns me that stones and moisture will soon work into the gap between metal and wood and damage the wheel enough to warrant replacement (an expensive business, and one that can be avoided by prompt action).

To correct a loose rim, the tire is taken off, the wood joints of the wheel driven together, and any shaky bolts or screws tightened or replaced. Then the metal band is heated in a fire, replaced, pounded down firmly, and finally dipped in cold water. A blacksmith needs a full day to do a set of wheels and, around here, charges $20.00. (The front and rear pairs generally seem to need attention in alternate years.)

The cost of tightening the wheels, and $3.00 worth of buggy paint every spring, are the only maintenance expenses you're likely to have. That's a far cry from what you'd spend to keep up an auto for a year!

12/27/2008 11:14:46 AM

I have been reading your article with great interest, but ont aspect made me jump in my seat ! I have been reading articles for the past 30 years, and have written some myself, on the care of leather harnesses and other horse related leather accessories, and it was repeated again an again over the years, that one must NOT soak leather in a bath of oil. The leather, even the driest pieces, cannot absorb such a quantity of oil, and the stitches will be greatly weakened by this treatment. If a piece of leather is dry to the point of cracking, unfortunately it cannot be saved. It is better to discipline oneself and give a harness a regular cleaning after each use (quickly wiping all leather parts with a wet sponge will do the trick if you are in a hurry, and once in a while add some leather soap, but not to the point of lathering), and a thorough cleaning once a year. If you want to pass your leather equipment to the next generations, please do not over do it with the oil, however well intended you are !! Tanera Montreal, Canada

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