Newfoundland Club of America Draft Equipment Guide - Approved 2001
Understanding the Equipment
The size other wheels on a wagon or cart is important. Small wheels are inefficient, and the dog must work harder to pull a loaded apparatus. Small wheels are not recommenced on hills and uneven terrain. Larger wheels ease the workload, but since they, make the center of gravity higher, the apparatus could tip more easily. The type of wheels should also be taken into consideration. Wide wheels are better on soft sand and in areas where a thin wheel would sink. Air-filled tires or tubed-tires provide a cushioned ride but a handler must have the necessary equipment along in order to repair a flat tire if one should occur while working or during a test.
A harness is attached to a wheeled apparatus at a single point if you are using a spreader bar or singletree and at two points if you have separate traces. The most efficient pull occurs when the traces are parallel to the ground. The point where a harness (or traces) attaches to the apparatus may be raised or lowered to accommodate a larger or smaller dog and still pull efficiently.
Shafts are used to guide the apparatus and are part of the braking system. On a cart they extend directly from the cart to the sides of the dog's body. On a wagon they are attached to the wagon's steering mechanism and extend from there to the sides of the dog's body. On carts the shafts should be parallel to the ground. The parallel position is not as critical in a wagon because the weight of the load is not extended onto the shafts in a wagon. The point where the harness (or traces) pulls on any apparatus should not be from the shafts but from the body of the apparatus. (The lone exception to this is with a travois, where the shafts are the apparatus.) Shafts should come to a point of the dog's shoulder that is about even with the front of the dog. If the front of the shaft is too long, it will interfere with the turning ability of the dog; too short and the shafts will jab into the dog on turns. The overall length of the shaft should allow the dog to be able to fully extend its hind legs without striking the cart. Shaft length should be checked while the cart or wagon is moving and when it is loaded.
The shafts also provide a place for brakes. Brakes consist of a projection either on top of, underneath, or around the shaft. The projection should be right behind the loop on the girth strap of the siwash harness. The loops of the girth strap should never be behind the brake. There should be no space between the loop and the brake. Brakes keep the cart or wagon from hitting the rear of the dog.
Conventional racing dogsleds have a foot brake that a handler can use to slow the sled. When using a shaftless pulk, sled or toboggan, snow will often serve to brake the apparatus, but a trace or lead attached to the rear can be used by a handler to keep the apparatus from bumping the back of the dog on downhill grades.
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