Thinking outside the Horsebox produced the Saddlechariot, a safe, one man, pony drawn, vehicle. I was proud ten years ago to introduce cowardice as a design tool, and it’s still on top of the tool box. No compromises, safety is why I design vehicles. The Saddlechariot is fun, because it is safe. You can take risks, because the Saddlechariot instant release system means you have an exit strategy. It is like going out in a boat and being able to step back onto dry land at any time.
The training manual was, and is, simple. “If you are worried, step off and pull the ripcord.” Stepping off, is back 8″ down 8″ or 200 mm for all you metric types. If pulling a ripcord needs explaining, you have problems.
You notice I don’t specify why you are worried. I believe that if you are around ponies and you aren’t worried, you should be. They are larger and stronger than you by a healthy margin. They are a lot faster and when danger threatens, they firmly believe that going flat out is the sensible answer. They don’t begin to consider where they are running to, it is all about running away.
Get on top of one, and even a basic understanding of the laws of gravity shows that the only credible direction you will go when it all goes pear shaped, is down. Attach a vehicle behind one of these animals who’s sole aim when frightened is to reach escape velocity, and you are either nuts, or you have a way of letting the animal go off and do its own thing.
Thinking outside the Horsebox produced the instant release system, and until the arrival of the Bannedwaggon, the Saddlechariot was the only vehicle with an effective safety system, described by NFU Mutual as a “glorified horse drawn vehicle but with extra safety mechanisms fitted.”.
The Saddlechariot was great, the Mark 10 still is, but you can’t get off fast enough if you have limited mobility, and you can’t get on at all if you are in a wheelchair. Lots of things don’t work with limited mobility, and aren’t accessible to wheelchair users.
I am just arrogant enough to think they should be, hence the Bannedwaggon.
It is a trade off, not on safety, because it is safer than the Bannedwaggon. The manual has been cut in half. None of that, if you are worried step off and pull the rip cord. For the Bannedwaggon it just says, If you are worried, pull the ripcord.
It is hard to get much simpler. The trade off is work for the pony. While the saddlechariot works right down to 8hh, 32″ at the shoulder, that is because of a simple engineering. The way the saddlechariot functions the driver and the saddlechariot act as separate entities and the pony only has to deal with the loadings imposed by a 35kg vehicle, not the extra 110kg of me. So as I blat merrily across country, I am acting as my own suspension, and when the vehicle twists, or one wheel rides up over a bump, my inertia has no effect on the pony, as I can allow the vehicle to move freely.
This does come with practice, but most things do, and it can’t be done sitting down, or in a wheelchair. So the Bannedwaggon is more work for the pony, and for wheelchair use, I would want to use proper Shetlands, not miniatures, and probably 36″ plus. And I know someone will bring along some incredibly tough little 24″ pony which will terrify me into admitting they can do it as well.
But it is a trade off. The Banned waggon also needed me to develop the collar with the integral swingle tree. This means the traces can equalise the load on either side of the pony rather than pulling from one side then the other. But developing the integral swingle tree made the instant release system even better, and allowed two rip cords or 36 ripcords to be used simultaneously and to be fixed at any point on the shafts.
I have been mucking around with versions for the disabled since 2000 when Riding for the Disabled first claimed they had concerns about safety of my vehicles. Their next letter admitted they were lying and had never seen any of my vehicles, and they finished by saying they would never look at anything I did. he only point in their favour, is that they were honest about that. They have never spoken to me, ever.. So I have worked in a vacuum, ever since, but I have friends with disabilities who have been prepared to play the part of crash test dummies, and I drove the Bannedwaggon round Hyde Park, on my own, from a wheelchair, having driven it up from Exeter with all my camping gear.
So I know it works.
What scares me is how well it works. I saw it as filling in the gaps, doing the boring bits the saddlechariot couldn’t do. How wrong can you be, it is a total hoot to drive. It handles like a dream, corners like nothing on earth, driven in high speed mode it is more stable than a Porsche, I am pretty sure I can’t flip it cornering, anyway, running it on slicks, the whole vehicle drifts through corners on wet grass.
It is dead light, I think it will come in at 40kg ish, it looks like it will go in the back of most cars, OK so the Saddlechariot fits in your luggage if you fly to the USA without paying excess baggage and fits in the back of a Toyota Yaris with four adults, but no pony, but back of an estate car isn’t bad for a wheelchair enabled, 2/3 seat pony drawn vehicle.
It fits any animal, and cross country it is magic. I haven’t worried about ground clearance once on the prototype and the production version will have a lower height for wheelchairs and significantly better ground clearance.
It is slightly wider than the saddlechariot at 43″ about 1070mm has a stable carrying capacity of 250 litres and did most of the trip to London at 250kg loaded.
The production version will be tubular 304 stainless steel, TIG welded, and using the Mark 10 Saddlechariot instant release and harness. It shares a number of parts with the standard Saddlechariot and will be available as a conversion for saddlechariot owners.
Since money and I have agreed to go our separate ways, Nick Sanders is the man to talk to at Rowanoak, just don’t let him sell you his “magic rope” mine is better and cheaper.
None of the vehicles shown in these pics are the Bannedwaggon, they are various prototypes which for various reasons I have scrapped. All worked but none did what I wanted. I produced fast ones, which flipped at slow speeds, I produced safe slow versions which were undriveable above a trot, They were too long, too short, too narrow. Almost all of them are bigger than the Bannedwaggon, and none of them would fit a large electric wheelchair, the lightest, smallest, most stable, fastest and slickest version, the Bannedwaggon, will.