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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 19, 2012

    Default rollerbolts, eveners, splinterbars etc..?

    I've recently done a lot of reading about different ways to attach horses to poles. Something I'd never heard of before were roller bolts. I cannot get a good photo of them anywhere, (but I see them on the video of HRH posted here). How to they work?

    Also, which would be the best set up for a pair of drafts put to a 20 person people mover? Right now we have a typical draft type evener with a drop pole and evener but with a Mr. Eager and a Mr. Slowpoke, I'm wondering if there's a better set up. In theory, this sounds the best, but Mr Eager is usually a neck in front of Mr. Slowpoke and no matter how much you try to speed up Mr. Slowpoke, Mr. Eager just stays out front. So much so that Mr. Slowpokes side of the even hits the vehicle. Mr. Eager is is working soo hard and Slowpoke is just dumb-dee-dumbing along.

    No matter if we use the whip or voice to start Mr. Slowpoke going first. Mr. Eager still starts out so much faster than Mr. Slowpoke. Mr. Eager is a very hot horse and a handfull in single. I've even adjusted the coupling lines to try to hold him back to no avail.

    When Mr. Eager starts out so quickly with the evener, it slams the collar onto Mr. Slowpokes neck and we think he may be getting a little sore from this and making him not want to pull as hard which makes Mr pull harder... start harder... slam the collar harder... vicious little circle... He works perfect single though.

    I was reading about limited eveners and a few other things. We have a carriage that has shafts and a pole and when I thought about it, the pole has chains on it from the trees to the carriages. We don't use this pole as it's old and wooden and probably not safe, so I can't test it out.

    Before I go and put chains on the eveners down to the axle to least keep them even, can someone go over the pros and cons?

    Also, I have a set of team lines and even with the coupling reins set as far back as they can there is still no inside contact. Can I just go ahead and pop more holes into the draft line to move the buckle back and actually have contact on the inside horse?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    MI USA


    I think you might want to read up on the Achenbach system of driving to begin with, which uses reins that adjust uniquely for Pairs. Max Pape wrote "The Art of Driving" which is about what he learned from Benno von Achenback, a renowned master of Driving skills. A secondary book would be "Driving, The Complete Riding and Driving System: Book 5". It is the official instruction handbook of the German National Equestrian Federation, and follows their methods of training horses. It includes information further expanding the Achenbach System of driving horses.

    Both books are well illustrated to show what is being spoken about in the texts. The special rein system is also well illustrated and explained.

    Now back to the original question about splinter bars, roller bolts, and eveners.

    When we start a Pair, the evener is tied down, so horses are only pulling with the singletrees. NO CHANCE of Eager slamming Slow with the collar pull of the evener. If Slow doesn't start at the same step, he has to catch up, but is not punished by the equipment, to make him WORSE about starting. It can take TIME, persistant Driver effort, to get Slow stepping off with Eager at the "Walk On" command. You may want to work Slow alone, get him stepping off quicker, promptly, when he hears the command. He MUST do his part eventually, to quit frustrating Eager!

    Working the horses alone, you can soothe Eager, try to make him HAPPY during his session. Then touching up Slow for a crisp response if he still ignores you during his session. Use their names, same crisp voice, but let Eager stroll off to start, and Slow may get a touch of whip if he persists in ignoring the command. Horse name, SHOULD mean something to him, get his attention, THEN give command, for prompt response. This can take a while to get smooth in the Pair, ANY PAIR learning to work together.

    We drive with fixed straight poles or sprung poles like Marathon vehicles have. No real downward pull with yoke or tongue weight. Marathon vehicle has a metal yoke on a short pole, can't fall off, rotates up and down, forward and back with the horses. Pleasure carriages we own have singletrees, with the Marathon vehicle carrying an evener with singletrees. Having singletrees on everything is because we usually drive in breastcollars. The Pleasure Vehicles also have splinter bars with roller bolts, if we want to use them we remove the singletrees which are hung from the splinter bar.

    Collars are used with splinter bars, never breastcollars. Collars have more surface on the horse for pulling, better movement with the shoulder of the animal. I am going to say that while splinter bars are traditional, we don't use them much because it takes time and effort to keep horse shoulders fit for work wearing a collar. It is VERY easy to sore or scald a horse under his collar when working them. You probably know about keeping shoulders fit for collar work already!

    I don't recommend using a splinter bar setup, for your people mover. Fixed poles that go with splinter bars were never designed for that kind of load. Heavy Coaches that did haul loads of people on their routes, went thru a lot of horses because they got sore with the weight. Fixed poles do not use a yoke, the horses are fastened to the pole end with chains or straps from the collar to the pole end. Pole is LONG, needs to be a couple feet longer than the horse nose when he is relaxed while hitched. The length gives horse Pair leverage to control their vehicle behind, and straightens the pull from forward pole end, so they are not being pulled sideways. Horses are hitched in slightly snug, so there is a bit of tension from front of pole all the way back to the splinter bar and roller bolts that traces attach to. Horse can move "within" the harness, but harness is NEVER hitched loosely for the fixed pole, splinter bar type of setup. Horses get slapped with harness and weight for stopping, starting, if there is no tension from front to back in the hitching.

    So my suggestion is to try locating either or both of those books, learn about the Achenbach rein system for Pairs. Figure out what measurements are needed for your size horses and order a set of Achenbach reins. Leather or synthetic, correct size for your hands, so they fit. While waiting for your reins you can do single work with both horses, to get them understanding what you want with the commands. Then you can adjust away with a set of Achenbach reins while driving the Pair and be surprised that they actually work!

    I think you have an equipment issues with the reins used now. Horses needs some work single, to let them be better and more responsive to direction. Tie down the evener when you put them together, that see-saw start is REALLY HARD to work with for both animals. So get rid of it by tying the evener down to let them pull off the singletrees for a while, they don't punish each other. EVERY set of 2 horses has an Eager and Slow. You can put 2 Slows together and one will turn into Eager! Same with 2 Eagers, one will turn into a Slow. It is amazing to us, but it happens with every Pair we know, no matter how you switch them around.

    I wouldn't bother with changing my equipment on the people mover at this point, beyond tying down the evener. I don't think the splinter bar, roller bolts are the answer to the problem.

    1 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004


    I'm not a fan of achenbach at'll find those who love it and those that hate it. If you look at the big driving competitions in the x-country, nobody uses it.

    Anyway, a rollerbolt uses a round swingletree and think of how the traces attach as if you took your belt and pulling the strap all the way through the buckle to tighten down on the swingletree. Sometimes, the x-country carriages have vertical metal attachments the roller (buckle) part goes over. I had a Kuhnle dressage gig that used rollerbolts. I put a keeper over the leather to make sure it wouldn't pop off...very strong system but fairly uncommon nowadays.
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    MI USA


    Sorry Trakehner, I think you mis-spoke with the rollerbolt and round swingle/singletree. They are not the same on a carriage, though they BOTH USE a noose-type ending on the trace to attach horse to vehicle.

    Below is a splinterbar, with rollerbolts on the top. Rollerbolts are the round spool looking things. Wider top and bottom prevent the noose of trace from coming up off the roller part if traces get slack in them. Singletrees are hung below the splinter bar so you can use either method to drive with, on this vehicle. Singletrees are removed if you use the rollerbolts, so they don't bang the horses while driving.

    Here is a photo of the pole holder, centered under the two middle rollerbolts, with the locking pin to hold pole in place.

    This vehicle is a Bennington Dogcart, formal vehicle. At times the horses seem to prefer wearing full collars to pull it, and other times they like their breastcollar harness better. Having it set up to go either way makes it easy to use for Pleasure Driving or CDE Dressage with our Team. Splinterbar would be on the vehicle regardless of harness choice, since it supports the pole, controls the steering of the 5th wheel and front axle, with the futchels that anchor the splinterbar in place.

    Futchels are the arms coming forward from the 5th wheel, would hold shafts on a single horse vehicle or the splinterbar on a multiple horse vehicle, for steering it. This photo shows the futchels on a different, antique vehicle, with no shafts or splinterbar being held.

    We use special traces with a quick release device for the noose-end traces going over rollerbolts. Same as the device for quick release tug loops on closed end shafts. That allows us to be able to release the traces regardless of the pull on them. Other noose type closures, loop or monkey-puzzle, require there be slack to open the noose to come off the rollerbolts. Just seemed safer to us, to have the quick release traces made up. And when you use them, both traces on a horse have the release straps face the outside, away from the pole for getting them undone. That way the groom can just reach across the horse and pull it loose easier, not have to lean across the pole from behind the OTHER horse, to get it pulled loose to release.

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