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Driving Vehicles

Table of Shaft Lengths and Widths


One of the first questions people ask when they go out looking for a carriage is "How do I know if it will fit?" Over the years there have been several charts printed to aid people by giving dimensions to help in buying the right size. This is a compilation of  some of that information into one chart. How is this kind of chart possible? While horses body types are not identical, there is a dimensional ratio between various parts of the body compared with the height at the withers and this is adequately similar for the purposes of shaft design for different sizes of horse or pony.

What parts of the body need to be considered? Wither height, width at the shoulder, width at the saddle girth, croup width, length of trunk from point of shoulder to buttock and location of the stifle.  An additional consideration is normal length of stride. Taking all these factors together helps define the space needed to give the horse sufficient room to move and to be comfortable, while also allowing room for the harness, and some leeway for a slightly larger or smaller animal.

The information in this chart defines approximate dimensions needed to build or buy a traditional style of two-wheeled single horse vehicles or 4-wheeled pole type vehicles to fit a wide range of horse sizes. Adjustments may need to be made to accommodate heavy draft type horses, donkeys and small ponies or mini-horses. Vehicles designed for specific purposes like the modern marathon vehicle or an antique gig will often differ in dimensions to meet their specific needs. For example: marathon shafts are shorter and end at the saddle girth, or some gigs are made with narrower widths between the shafts. The size and design of the harness may also affect how a vehicle fits. A bulky saddle could require more space between the shafts. Style of breeching may affect the position of the breeching staple. Also the chart describes wheel height for two-wheeled vehicles. Wheels will be smaller on four-wheeled vehicles.  

Table of Shaft Lengths and Widths for Traditional Style Vehicles

for Traditional Style Vehicles for Single Turnouts

Measurements in inches

Animal Height (in Hands)

17H

16H

15H

14H

13H

12H

11H

10H

Length of Shaft from Swingletree to Tip

85

80

75

70

65

60

55

50

Height from Ground under Shafts at Back-band Tugs

55

52

49

46

43

40

36

32

Width between Shafts at Back-band Tugs

25

24

23

22

21

20

19

18

Width of Swingletree

36

34

31

30

28.5

27

25.5

24

Length from Back-band Tug to Shaft Tip

24

22

20.5

19

17.5

16

14

12

Length from Back-band Tug Stop to Trace Hook

56

53

50

47

44

41

38

35

Distance from Breeching Staple to Trace Hook

30.5

29

27.5

26

24.5

23

21.5

20

Wheels - Diameter

51

48

45

42

39

36

33

30

Table of Pole and Splinter-Bar Measurements for Fixed Pole Carriages

For Pair and Four-in-Hand Turnouts
Measurements in Inches

Animal Height (in Hands)

17H

16H

15H

14H

13H

12H

11H

10H

Width of Swingletrees

36

34

31

30

28.5

27

25.5

24

Length of Pole from Splinter Bar to Polehead

115

110

106

99

94

87

80

72

Splinter Bar Length

68

64

62

60

58

56

53

50

Height of Pole End

45

42

39

37

35

34

31

28

Height of Splinter Bar

40

36

34

33

30

28

26

24

 

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Cross Plains, WI 53528, USA
608-237-7382 
info@americandrivingsociety.org

Copyright 2017 by The American Driving Society, Inc.