Friday, 15 August 2008

The Saddlechariot is different. Safety is the paramount consideration. And since I am scared of horses, ponies, mules and even donkeys, I assure you I am not going to build a vehicle that I can't get off easily, and that I can't remove from the animal instantly. This video of Boyd Exell driving at Aachen where he falls out of the vehicle, then both grooms fall out of the vehicle leaving four loose horses towing 600kg of vehicle through crowds of spectators. Alternatively, look at this video of me stepping off a moving saddlechariot and removing the vehicle from the pony. I could hang on to the reins if I chose but it makes the whole thing clearer if I just step off. Anyway a loose pony, with nothing attached is more of a threat to grass than anything else.

The safety is reflected in the engineering. The structure is TIG welded stainless steel, which makes for near zero maintenance. Design is modular so the saddlechariot can be adjusted to fit any animal from 7hh to 18hh and I can do bigger or smaller with a weeks notice. Not only does it fit any animal, it fits any driver over about 6 years old and balances perfectly without adjustment. That means NO weight on the shafts.

Lancaster University Engineering Department provided stress testing and advice to bring the Saddlechariot up top modern road going vehicle strength standards. There are no official tests for vehicle safety that I can discover. NFU Mutual Insurance describe the saddlechariot as "a glorified horse drawn vehicle but with extra safety mechanisms fitted" and accept it on a satndard horse policy without need ing a groom. NFU Mutual also provide insurance cover for the British Driving Society whose vehicles do require a groom.

The harness is my own design utilising a unique aluminium collar with sheepskin cover. This provides a perfect fit and a bearing surface between the collar and pony that stops any rubs. The latest versions have an integral swingle tree in the collar which makes life even easier for the pony at speed across rough ground.
The saddle is double hinged, has 20mm closed cell foam padding under sheepskin and there is no weight on the pony's back. The tailored padded breeching is built for strength

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