Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Exeter to HydePark, wheelchair enabled pony drawn vehicle. 2

Rereading the first essay, it is clear that this is a project doomed to failure, and also that the author has no clue who actually went. Enrique is clearly being trained, yet Tiki seems to have gone. But relax, it gets more confusing. Enrique transmogrified into Winston the Mule before even I realised that he wasn't going to make the trip. I could handle him, and I believe I could have got him most of the way to London, but this would mean Lee taking Obama with an insanely complex, and experimental vehicle, along some lethal roads.

So in a moment of insanity I agreed to take Tiki instead. Tiki is sweet, better with people that Obama, rock steady in traffic, but on the downside, terrified of Saddlechariots, and contemptuous of fences. I knew his problems with Saddlechariots. but not their cause, or their severity, i didn't know that he treated anything less than cleft oak fencing with contempt. By the time we reached Bradford on Avon, we had the Saddlechariot on him so he might at last beome an asset, rather than Obama having to pull Tiki's Saddlechariot as well as the Bannedwaggon. This explains the truly insane fivewheel articulated rig we were trailing across country.

But a pony that escapes, apparently just to explore the local nightlife, totally ignoring its friend and companion, is no animal for this sort of journey. First night on the canal, Tiki ran through the fence as I was connecting the electric, and set off at a brisk trot down the Towpath. He wasn't frightened, just a typical teenage boy determined to get out and see what was available. I am sure if I had left him to it, he would have staggered back at some ungodly hour of the morning, or rung expecting to be picked up from some distant hostelry, but my nerve wasn't good enough, so we spent a happy day in Bradford on Avon sorting out a rescue plan for Tiki who was very kindly picked up and looked after by Mark of Natural Horse magazine.

So Adele is looking after Winston/Enrique the Mule, and Mark is looking after Tiki, while Lee and I carry on down the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath with just the Bannedwaggon loaded to the eyeballs with assorted camping gear, computers, cameras etc. And of course a wheelchair. That after all was the point of the trip, to drive a wheelchair enabled pony drawn vehicle round Hyde Park.
So we finally look at the vehicle. I have spent years trying to get a wheelchair enabled pony drawn vehicle to work. I have had working prototypes for five years ish, but none of them has really done what I wanted. July/August 2010, I build 2 in quick succession that do exactly what I want. The first was ugly and a fractionally too narrow internally but by rearranging the chassis, I made the Bannedwaggon wider internally and narrower externally, while improving the looks. Today, I rebuild it again to make it lower, lighter, sexier, and hopefully this will be the last rebuild before the production version hits the streets.

The Bannedwaggon as we set out, had one fault which I knew about. Hitting large steps with an animal pulling caused the back end to flip up. Attaching a saddlechariot as a trailer cured this fault, so I forgot about it till we left Tiki and the saddlechariot behind, and then we flipped the backend up by dropping a front wheel into a hole in the towpath. Obama was unimpressed and accelerateed, I pulled the ripcord and fitted a pice of string to stop it happening again.
And that is the history of the problems with the vehicle. It is totally mindboggingly good. I did an equivalent journey last year with the Mark10 Saddlechariot and trailer, driving from Brecon to Birmingham. At the time, no other vehicle could have done the journey. I always said the Saddlechariot was the best vehicle around. The safest, the kindest to the animal, the most fun, and the most adaptable. This isn't arrogance, this is honesty. I don't build vehicles to be the second best.

Inventors have a pretty miserable life, and tend to die, unrecognised, bankrupt, alcoholic, frequently by their own hand. I am a pariah in the horse world, considered mad by many, and have lost everything I care about. You don't do that for second best. You don't do that because you think you have a pretty good idea for a middle of the road, pony drawn vehicle. You do it because you believe it is the best.

The Saddlechariot was the best. The Bannedwaggon is better. Not in every way, but in enough. Most importantly, the Bannedwaggon is wheelchair enabled as standard. This isn't a conversion as a sop to the disabled, this is no aftermarket afterthought, this is a vehicle that as standard allows reasonably mobile wheelchair users to drive their wheelchair straight on, on their own. It also takes most mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs.
If anything goes wrong, and with ponies or horses, something always does, you pull the ripcord and let the pony or horse do whatever it wants, you and the Bannedwaggon will roll to a stop, safe, and can wait for help.

This trip, Exeter to Hyde Park, had only one aim, to prove this point, and it has. If you are interested in all terrain access for those with mobility problems, the Bannedwaggon is the answer. The rest of this journal, series of essays, whatever, may be interesting, may give you a laugh, but if your interest is mobility across challenging terrain, or indeed any terrain outside the house, the Bannedwaggon has a lot to offer. Contact me, simon@saddlechariot.com on 07928 785220, or Nick Sanders saddlechariotsales@rowanoaklivery.co.uk or on 07870765018 and we can arrange a demo.

After 16 knackering, scary days, with a rig that weighed around quarter of a ton fully laden, I reached Hyde Park, slung all the luggage that was in my way, over the back of the wheelchair, thus further upsetting the balance, and with my weight bringing the rig back up to around quarter of a ton, drove down Rotten Row, on my own, bitless, whipless and in safety. Obama was trotting freely, and willingly at the end of at least eight hours in harness and I was grinning from ear to there.

The Bannedwaggon gives the disabled a degree of freedom and independence that no other disability vehicle comes close to. And it's bloody good fun. And it has undergone one of the toughest tests of any horsedrawn vehicle and come through with flying colours. It is definitely worth a look.
And by the way, it can be easily adapted to able bodied use, from single seat insane all terrain versions, load carrying two seaters, brat carting four seaters, two seat touring, or the version I am currently building, the long distance camper. But every format reverts to the basic wheelchair enabled system, and they all feature instant pony release, the only safe way to drive a pony or horse.





To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php

1 comment:

Killi said...

I l.ike the sound of the long-distance camper!
Word verification: awayp!