So last week was extremely busy and disappointing. Darling Husband was helping out the Mustang Heritage Foundation at the Extreme Mustang Makeover event in Lexington KY, and supporting a fellow veteran participant competing his mustang Wanoka. In addition to my day job, Offspring and I were holding down the fort with a considerable amount of livestock to check, feed, and clean-up after. I also wasted an entire evening to discover that the parade I had spent two months preparing for, would not allow me to enter the closest you’ll ever find to a bomb proof pony because of a bias against equine masculinity. You can see my previous post if you would like more information on the hypocrisy of the Belton Chamber of Commerce. (water under the bridge, mostly). However, there was one bright shining event last week (besides watching all three Disney Cars movies twice a day, every day for 10 days). My HyperBike arrived!
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the HyperBike is a two wheel cart designed specifically for miniature horses. It follows a racing sulky design with modifications to make it the perfect off-road/trail vehicle. This is the extreme sport vehicle of the pony driving world. There are people that have reported their miniature horse clocking in around 33 mph while pulling a passenger in the cart on the HyperBike Facebook group! That’s booking it, considering that the world record holder for a Thoroughbred is Winning Brew (love that name) at 43.97 mph. I don’t doubt that those speeds are possible having witnessed Beau lap all of our bigs when he breaks into their pasture.
This event was about a year in the making. I’ve had my eye on this cart ever since Beau’s first drive in September of last year, but these carts are not cheap (like everything else for pony driving). I had been saving my pennies, literally, through the Acorns app on my phone siphoning spare change off of my debit card to pay for the HyperBike. There is also currently a three month lead time on construction. It just so happened that on the day I called to schedule the construction of my HyperBike, that the carriage maker, Bob Graham, informed me someone had backed out of a cart that was almost ready to ship. So bumped to nearly the front of the line, I sent my payment and eagerly awaited my shipment confirmation!
The HyperBike arrived a few days after the parade disappointment, which was almost exciting enough to cancel that out, except I was alone with a toddler for the next five days. The box sat unopened Friday night in our tack room. On Saturday morning I sat Offspring down on the couch with a snack and juice box for what was probably the thirty fifth showing of Cars in our house since Daddy ran off to Kentucky. I unboxed/unwrapped all of the pieces (there weren’t many) of my new off-road pony vehicle before Offspring figured out something more interesting was happening on our back porch and demanded to “help.” So there I am holding a five page print out of assembly instructions on what had to be the windiest day of the year, attempting to balance the seat/frame assembly, and simultaneously wrestling sockets out of Offspring’s hands as he rearranged Darling Husband’s wrench set.
I installed the shafts then reinstalled them after I couldn’t figure out where the second piece attached because they were backwards. Then I realized I was looking at the wrong shafts altogether. I ordered two sets of shafts size B for the smaller ponies, and size C for Moonshine. My assembly instructions had long ago blown across the yard as I had tightened the seat bolts and then hunted down all of the sockets swimming in Offspring’s water table and hiding in his tractor wagon. I chased my directions across the pony paddock when I remembered that even though the wheels were self-explanatory, there was something important about the locking pins that I couldn’t remember. Once I had the shafts attached, I tested out the cart on the back porch. It rolled like a dream. There was barely any weight in the shafts. I calculated the risk versus rewards of putting Beau to the cart while Offspring took a nap. Mother Nature made the decision for me, because a thunder storm rolled in as I was cleaning up my work space.
It was too muddy on Sunday and Monday to consider putting the pony to my new cart, so even though I may have been inclined to make a questionable parenting decision, fate stepped in. On Tuesday Darling Husband and the odometer that I ordered for the cart arrived! After a celebratory reunion dinner, installing the odometer while DH took a nap, and putting Offspring to bed I could contain myself no longer. I lifted the HyperBike over the chainlink in the back yard (yes, the cart weighs like 40 lbs max) and interrupted Beau’s grazing for our first HyperBike experience. While I was grooming Beau, Darling Husband mentioned that something did not look quite right about the shafts. He was right they did indeed need to be switched so that the shaft loop stop pointed away from the pony. I made Darling Husband sit in the cart, and lean backward, forward, bounce a little in the seat to evaluate the cart balance. After that I took a stab at adjusting the harness to ensure that the pony would experience the least amount of pressure on his back and girth as possible.
Everything you do with horses involves some risk, and some activities are more dangerous than others. On the day I called to schedule my HyperBike build, Bob, (cart designer/maker) grilled me on my and Beau’s level of experience. He insisted that this was not a beginner vehicle, and that both driver and pony need to know what they are doing. This was probably the biggest factor in my decision to wait FIVE WHOLE days before trying out the new cart. I’ve been riding horses before I could walk, riding solo before I was five, and training by the time I was eleven. That’s just shy of forty years equine experience. But…I only attempted driving less than a year ago. Beau has seven years experience toting very small children around and bucking them off when the mood suits, but Beau just learned to drive less than a year ago. You can read more about Beau’s exploits (here). Lacking the hubris of my youth, even though I assured Bob I had this, I paused for five seconds to wonder if I really did.
I ground drove Beau with the cart attached. His newest girlfriend, Summer Cloud, had to be chased away. I had closed the property gates and left the pony paddock wide open hoping she would mow some of the overgrown yard grass, maybe weed eat a little down the fence line for me while we worked, but she’s in heat. Summer kept cutting in front of Beau hoping he would perform some studly duties, but Beau’s all business when he’s wearing tack, so she was really just annoying me. Once we contained her, I took a deep breath and stepped over the cart shaft. I think this is the scariest thing about a HyperBike, having been drug by a panicked pony and cart only a few weeks ago. For more on that see this post. You have to have faith in your pony to step in between their rear and cart seat in order to mount up. Beau’s worth his weight in gold though and was statue still. Then he turned and looked at me like, “Can we get this over with already?”
It was awkward, but exhilarating. The possibilities are endless for where and how fast a pony can go with the HyperBike. I need to tweak my cart balance, but compensated for it with my seat. Years of riding experience made correcting the poor balance a breeze. I had Beau walk around the pony paddock, then trot, and then tested out the turning radius on my new off road vehicle. Once I have the balance corrected, I’ll open Beau up in the back pasture and see what speed he clocks.
Every HyperBike owner I had spoken with, said that the HyperBike would quickly become the only cart I would ever want to drive. They were partially correct. The only downside I see after our first ride is that this is a single passenger vehicle, and I do love when Offspring joins me for jaunts around the neighborhood. The HyperBike definitely expands the places I can take the ponies, and I can’t wait to really open the ponies up and see how fast the little guy and gals can go. We’re taking the HyperBike and a pony to the beach with the bigs when we do our equine beach holiday this summer! I see some trail rides in our future as well, once it cools off a little in the fall. A huge shout out to Robert Graham for an excellent design and craftsmanship. I definitely got my money’s worth in this purchase!