Katie's Journal

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Forecart

by @ 7:08 pm on September 6, 2006.

I don’t think I ever found the time to post about my new toys. Back when Dad and I went to the Browns Training Camp (see here and here) we wound our way around to Amish country, and found ourselves at the Pioneer Equipment factory. Yep, we just happened to wander by. Really. Okay, not really. I wanted a forecart since I was worried about my ability to bail with my meadowbrook cart in case of emergency. And I’ve just now realized I never posted pictures of it, either. Dang, I’m really slipping here. Okay, so let’s backtrack a moment, shall we?

Way back in March, 2006 I purchased a meadowbrook cart kit from Bowman Carriage in Illinois. I wanted a nice cart, but one that wasn’t too expensive. Buying the kit saved $400. As it turned out, it also saved shipping. Luck was on my side, as when I called to order the kit, I discussed with Larry (the owner) wheel size. He said he had some custom wheels (56” I think they were, might have been 54”) someone had ordered and then backed out on. If I wanted those wheels, he wouldn’t charge me, and the timing would be right for him to deliver the cart when he traveled right by Morgantown on his way to Ocean City, Maryland on another delivery. I said great, and a week after I placed the order he showed up at my doorstep with my kit. He didn’t charge me anything for the delivery (how nice was that?). This is what the stack of parts looked like when it arrived:

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Hardly seems like enough to turn into a cart, does it? If you’ll notice, the wheels are put together, but other than that, everything is unsanded, unfinished wood or metal. I really didn’t think about that when I ordered the kit. I figured I’d just put the thing together, and it’d be done in a weekend. Yeah, right. I can’t even count the hours upon hours I put into this cart. I sanded everything, and believe me, once you break all those pieces apart, there’s a heck of a lot of wood there. Once sanded, all the wood received 6 coats: 1 primer, 2 stain, 3 polyurathane. The metal received a mere 3 coats: 1 primer, then 2 rustolieum. Once everything was *finally* done, dad jumped in and helped me put the thing together. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and was at times quite frustrating. But with dad’s help, we eventually managed to get everything right. He did a really nice job documenting the process in his blog, so I’ll leave out the pictures of everything going together.

Once the cart was together, I realized the big flaw. With this type of cart, one of the seats folds up, and you enter from the back. The seat then folds back down, and you’re all nice and comfy. You’re also effectively trapped. I considered carts where you enter from the front, but at the time thought it would be safer to get in from behind, so you wouldn’t have to step up over the wheel. This is all well and good, but in case of emergency, I want a way to bail with at least a chance of surviving. Now, to put this in perspective, would I be hitching up my horses to a cart if I thought I would actually need to bail at any point? No, of course not. I may not have much sense, but I at least have that much. I have no desire to get hurt myself, nor would I want to see anything happen to my ponies. But anyone who’s ever worked around horses knows they can be unpredictable, and even though both my boys are pretty level headed most of the time, you just never know. And they are new to pulling carts. I just didn’t feel very safe in the meadowbrook. Which really sucked, because after going to all that work, I didn’t really want to see it just sit. But still, safety first. And so I started thinking about an alternative. But first, some pictures of Caleb pulling the Meadowbrook (Kota never pulled it). You can see in the pictures how there’s no good way to get out, what with the fenders and dash in the way.

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So, getting back to the Pioneer Forecart. My Meadowbrook is a pleasure cart, and is nice enough it could be used as a show cart. A forecart is much more of a working cart. It has air tires, is low to the ground, and is easy to get in and out of. It’s often used as a training cart, since they can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. Much like some watch whose brand I can’t remember at the moment. Timex? Anyway, as I was saying before, it seemed like most of the forecarts around were Pioneer brand. It’s an Amish company, so no web site, and at the time I couldn’t even track down a phone number. But I did have an address, and it wasn’t going to be too far out of the way from where dad and I were headed for Browns Camp. So I figured why not drop by? I had price quotes from a couple different dealers I’d found online, and figured factory direct was bound to be cheaper. I didn’t really expect them to have one in stock, ready to go for me, but I thought I could at least get prices, and maybe order one. As it turned out, they had everything I wanted (and more) right there, ready for me to pack up and take home. I splurged on a set of snow runners, got the extras needed to make the cart work for either a single horse or a team, and dad was kind enough to buy me both a tool box that goes under the seat, and a big basket that attaches behind. Why buy snow runners when I already have the sleighs? I dunno. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Much like buying the setup for a team when my current harnesses won’t work for team driving. But those are trivial details. I asked the lady helping us if they sold harnesses, and she said no, but to check down the road at Bowman Harness. We did, and I ended up with a brand-spanking new team harness set, as well. Do I know how to spend money or what?? It was a long day, made even longer as we tried to get the forecart out of the truck when we got home. They’d put it in at the factory using a fork lift, and it was in sideways, so we couldn’t just roll it out. After backing the truck up to the retaining wall at the side of the house, and after some ingenious thinking by Mom on how to set up a scaffold to widen the tailgate, we managed to get the thing out of the truck and into the garage. I’m still rather amazing the whole thing (truck and cart) didn’t end up a rusting lawn ornament.

Moving along, mom worked hard to get a cover made for the new cart, and today mom and dad helped me take it out to the barn. A couple times now I’ve gotten my boys suited up in their new team harnesses (unfortunately no pictures yet), and practiced ground driving as a team. It’s really a rather interesting thing. Sometimes I can get one walking forward, but not the other. Since they’re stuck together, the first can only get so far before being stopped by the second. So the first stops. But the second, having been tugged forward, starts walking, only to have the process repeat itself. The boys are figuring it out though, and all in all I’ve been very happy. They’ve not been at all upset by the notion of being stuck together, and although Caleb seems to walk out more than Kota, they’ve been doing all right. Caleb is much better at the commands to turn, so practicing circles is largely a matter of Caleb pushing Kota around, or pulling him along. It’ll take time, but it’ll come. I was sorely tempted to have the forecart set up for a team when I took it out today, hook the boys up, and just go for it. My strategy thus far has largely been that of throwing them in the deep end of the pool, and seeing if they’ll swim. Thus far, they have, and quite well all things considered. But actually hitching them to a cart as a team I decided they just weren’t quite ready for yet. Caleb would do fine I think, but Kota needs more practice at his gees and haws (turning), and just some general cart work. So I ended up setting it for a single.

First up was Kota. He pulled the sleigh all of 3 times this past winter, and hasn’t been hooked to anything since. I hitched him up, and just led him up the hill (there’s a big hill near the barn that leads to a nice big flat space that’s nice to work in). I thought he might balk at pulling the cart up the hill, but with me leading him he followed me right up without a problem. Having the cart behind him (which is largely metal, so it was loud and clanging) didn’t bother him a bit. Once we were at the top of the hill, I got behind the cart to ground drive him from behind, with him pulling the cart. Kota swore he’d never been steered from behind before, and he ended up going just about every direction but forward. He wasn’t being bad, just confused. I pretty much just rode it out, waited for him to stand still, and asked him to move forward again. It took maybe 10 minutes before he finally figured it out, but once he did, he was really, really good. We ground drove for a while, then I climbed in and went for a short ride. Then mama climbed in to go for a ride while I lead Kota. Kota still needs a lot of work on his turns – we’re okay with nice big circles right now, but he’s not quite got the tight turns down yet. Still, for a first try, I was thrilled.

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Caleb’s turn was shorter – by the time I got to him mom (who’d been up since 3am finishing the cover so I could take the cart out) was pretty tired. Caleb has more experience pulling a cart, so I just hooked him up, hopped in, and off we went. That he was pulling a different cart didn’t seem to bother him, but it’s been a number of weeks since I last had him hitched to the meadowbrook, so he was a bit fussier than usual. He tossed his head a lot, and for some reason really didn’t want to turn left, although many of his right turns were picture perfect. Go figure. He’s always had a fussy nature when we’re doing something new, so after hitching him up a couple times he should settle right down for me. Now that the weather is cooler and the flies have died down, I’m hopeful for a lot of nice driving days.

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EDIT: July 7, 2010

Since so many people have asked, this is the contact info I have for the Pioneer factory. It was as of 2006, but it’s all I have.

Pioneer Equipment, Inc.

16875 Jericho Road

Dalton, OH 44618

Phone: 330-857-6340

Fax: 330-857-0296

4 Responses to “Forecart”

  1. Mike Bond Says:

    http://www.katiecook.us/blog/pics/072106_3.jpg

    Great pic.

  2. vanessa Says:

    Great stories! You have the same “deathtrap” syndrome I have about a meadowbrook even though…obviously, we both have great (looking!) horses. Good luck.

  3. Kay Says:

    Can you please send me the complete address & ph # to the Pioneer Equip. Co.?? Was it much cheaper going directly to them? Thanks Kay

  4. Greg Says:

    Did you save money by buying at the co? Can you send me the address and phone number please?

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