Singletree questions

Last post 12-20-2009 3:12 PM by goodhors. 6 replies.
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  • 12-01-2009 7:14 PM

    Singletree questions

    I am posting this for a friend who can't access Equisearch due to "dialup" slow connection. Hopefully someone here can help her out. Thanks.

     In my new adventures of driving, things are going well. Had an experienced helper come and get us set up, and the horse is doing well.

    Anyway, the single tree ends were bound with rigid metal bands on each end, instead of leather, and the bands were so tight, the single tree didn't actually swivel at all, and I know the whole point is to have some give for the shoulder movement with a breastcollar harness.

    My husband removed the metal bands to replace them with leather, but the pivot point seems to have some extra play. I thought I'd ask before we messed with it, but there is not a screw/bolt that goes through the stationary bar all the way, and the single tree pivots fine, it's just that it wobbles forward and backward, as if the bolt end that holds it is perhaps broken? Yet it won't come off.

    So the question is.. how do we check this or fix it without damaging everything? Can we just spin the single tree completely around to tighten or loosen it to stop the wobble then put the straps in place to keep in place? or is the wobble a sign of extreme fatique and I need to get a professional to remedy? Or, is it normal, and I should just put the leather straps on the ends to stabilize it and go on. How much play should I allow in the single tree for the shoulders? My helper won't be able to come back for a little while and I can't find any info in the books I have.


    Hubby and I went ahead and disassembled the whole thing and took a look. The vertical bolt that is the pivot point is what is wobbly, and it's a locked nut/bolt that is welded, so can't adjust it, but at least I know it's not about to pop into 2 peicses, so it wobble it will, I guess. At least the bolt looks solid and well greased to pivot in place.

    The metal bands were almost to the tips of the single tree, and were on the last (loosest) hole for adjustment, but still held the whole thing rigid, as far as swiveling goes, but didn't stop the wobble. We replaced them with leather, and I'd say it can swivel maybe an inch forward, and inch back from center now. Is that enough give for a breastcollar harness? It's more than there was before, at least.


    Sooo, why DO they put any bands on the single tree in the first place that limits the swivel motion?

    All my novice mind knows is that the purpose of the single tree is to pivot to mimimize the sawing motion of a breastcollar harness or, with regular collars to help prevent sore shoulders by absorbing some of the natural motion, however, the collar and hames are easier on the horse than the breastcollar type in general. Even when pulling logs, if you look at old pics, I see single trees used to pull loads, and they aren't restricted then, obviously since there's no way to do so. But that's just what I've read. LOL


  • 12-03-2009 11:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Singletree questions


       I don't know why there would be restrictive bands on the ends of a singletree except to keep it from swinging-around while the cart is being hauled on a truck or trailer...  None of the carts or wagons I have used have any such limitation on the singletree's swing.  Heck, you should try a team hitch, where you have a doubletree, which is essentially a great big singletree with sigletrees attached to each end, all pretty much free-swinging.



    Millwater's Farriery: Illustrated, Encyclopedic Reference
    for Professionals, Students, and Horseowners.

  • 12-04-2009 7:00 AM In reply to

    Re: Singletree questions

     Thank you Sir. That is the only explaination I could come up with as well.

  • 12-04-2009 9:43 PM In reply to

    Re: Singletree questions

    The purpose for restricting the movement of the singletree is safety. Should a trace come loose (and they do) the singletree would not be able to swivel enough so the horse is poked in the butt which would no doubt cause a runaway. And yes, most times they are restricted to just an inch or two of play.

  • 12-04-2009 11:25 PM In reply to

    Re: Singletree questions

     Ahhh, Food for thought. Thank you.

  • 12-05-2009 2:23 PM In reply to

    Re: Singletree questions


    Been there done that, not fun. This last season, the one show I went to my trace came off. Fortunately I was able to stop the horse and put things back together. Could have been a different story. In fact it was a few years ago. Not fun.
  • 12-20-2009 3:12 PM In reply to

    Re: Singletree questions

     Not sure what kind of vehicle you have with the singletree.  This site has a Meadowbrook Cart below the red 4-wheeler, halfway down from the top, shows clearly what I expect to see on a nice wooden vehicle.  Under a "closeup of the basket" the singletree has a center bolt, goes thru the center, down thru the crossbar, with nut and washers on the bottom side.  There is a couple metal fittings between the singletree and crossbar, that work and help swiveling.  Shows how the leather restraining straps are usually fitted, not tight or loose.  I might have more length on them with a big striding horse, so he doesn't run out of play so quick.,_Tuneup,_and_Detailing 

    The red 4--wheel vehicle about halfway down, shows the modern singletree, which uses Quick-release snaps on the traces.  Not hooks or clips as shown on the Meadowbrook cart for buttonhole trace ends. 

    I would agree that the straps on the ends are to prevent singletree from swiveling too far, if traces do fall off. Traces can work loose if horse is going down hill with slack or he is pulling cart with the reins, not traces!  Especially if holes are worn much, they slip easily.  Some folks hook traces with a bungee between holes, to prevent losing them.

     I would get the bolt out that is welded in.  That wobbling stuff is extra wear, not acceptable to me for using.  The more wobble, the more uneven the wear, shortening the life of bolt.  Just replace the whole bolt thru everything.  Use HARDENED bolts, so they wear better.  Most store bolts are soft, wear quickly.  We carry a spare bolt with nut, in our spares kit in the vehicle.  If bolt breaks or works loose, you can replace it easily, wherever you are.

     Maybe your singletree and the bolt, do not have those metal wear parts that stabilize the swivel in everything above the main crossbar.  Again, should be no wobble.

    Cart or light buggy horse is not having to pull a big load, like logging horses do.  Full neck collars spread out the weight of load onto a much larger surface of horse skin.  Breastcollar harness is more likely to fit ANY horse at ANY time of the year.  Extremely adjustable in fit for fat winter, more fit summer, driving horses.  For most fun driving, just tossing on the breast collar harness won't sore up the horse who has not been out for a month, unless there is a dirty spot rubbing against the skin.

    Full neck collars need to FIT WELL to do the job correctly.  A horse kept in work year round, will probably not need much in collar changes to keep well fitted while working.  However for most of our pleasure driving, the horse we use goes thru several body changes over a season.  Each change will require a different fit to his collar to make it fit correctly.  Adding or removing the collar pads are NOT going to work that well.  You will sore him up.  He also will get "scalded" from wearing a collar if he is not used to it.  You can really "leave some marks" on a horse working him in a collar he is not used to or that doesn't fit him well.  Skin needs to also get used to a collar.  I have seen horses get scalded in less than 15 minutes!  

    Few folks want to invest in so many collars, so breast collar harness is a much better choice for their animals, prevents many problems and soring. 





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