Farms couldn’t func­tion without wheel­bar­rows or carts. Here’s how to match the op­tions they of­fer with the chores you need to get done.

EQUUS - - Equus - By El­iza R.L. McGraw

Which whee lbar­row will work best

Car­ing for horses of­ten means mov­ing ma­te­ri­als from one place to an­other. There’s feed to carry down the aisle and dis­trib­ute to each horse and hay to de­liver to the stalls and pad­docks. The ma­nure needs to be taken out to the pile and new bed­ding hauled in and dis­trib­uted. Small won­der, then, that we de­pend so much on wheel­bar­rows, carts and wag­ons.

As sim­ple and com­mon as these tools are, they come in a va­ri­ety of sizes, ma­te­ri­als and styles. Most were de­signed for use at con­struc­tion sites or in home gar­dens, and the best model for your horse­keep­ing needs may not al­ways be ob­vi­ous. In fact, at many horse barns you’ll find more than one wheel­bar­row or cart, each ded­i­cated to a dif­fer­ent job.

The key to se­lect­ing the right wheel­bar­row or cart for your sit­u­a­tion is to match spe­cific fea­tures to the jobs you do and the con­di­tions un­der which you work. You well know what you need to ac­com­plish each day around the barn. Here’s what’s avail­able to as­sist you.

The Main Op­tions

A wheel­bar­row— a unit with one wheel set at the front of a curved car­rier tray—has long been used for muck­ing stalls and car­ry­ing bags of feed and bed­ding. Its sin­gle wheel makes it easy to ne­go­ti­ate tight turns through door­ways and around ob­sta­cles. The rounded, sloped front of the car­rier tray is ideal for dump­ing loads of loose ma­te­rial, such as ma­nure or shav­ings, and it’s easy to clean with a hose.

How­ever, the shape of the tray can be clumsy for car­ry­ing flat or bulky items. It takes phys­i­cal strength to lift and push a loaded wheel­bar­row as well as a bit of dex­ter­ity to keep it up­right. The sin­gle-wheel de­sign tips read­ily, es­pe­cially over un­even ter­rain. Some mod­els have two wheels placed side by side at the front of the car­rier; these pro­vide more sta­bil­ity un­der heavy loads but re­quire a larger turn­ing ra­dius.

A gar­den or util­ity cart has two dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures: a rel­a­tively flat bed suited to car­ry­ing stack­able items such as hay bales and feed bags, and two wheels—one on each end of an axle po­si­tioned un­der the car­rier tray. Carts are also more sta­ble and less prone to tip­ping than tra­di­tional wheel­bar­rows, and be­cause the load is bal­anced over the axle, more of the weight is borne by the wheels, so it takes less strength to move it. How­ever, carts re­quire a wider turn­ing ra­dius than a wheel­bar­row and may be dif­fi­cult to ma­neu­ver in close quar­ters.

Some util­ity carts have plas­tic car­rier trays with slightly curved sides; oth­ers have metal or wood trays with straight sides and flat beds. Many also have re­lease mech­a­nisms for dump­ing their loads.

A feed cart is de­signed for haul­ing grain and other feeds to farm an­i­mals. Most are plas­tic, with a sin­gle tub­like con­tainer set upon wheels. Some have two wheels with sup­port­ing legs; oth­ers rest on three or four wheels. Sev­eral feed carts de­signed specif­i­cally for feed­ing horses have mul­ti­ple com­part­ments to hold dif­fer­ent

con­cen­trates and/or sup­ple­ments, so each horse can re­ceive a cus­tom­ized por­tion as the cart is moved down the aisle. An­other op­tion is a so-called chore

cart, which has a deep, large-ca­pac­ity tub. These carts are de­signed to trans­port a large amount of feed to be dumped in one place, such as a trough for swine or cat­tle. A per­son us­ing one to feed horses would have to reach all the way to the bot­tom to scoop out the last of the grain.

A wagon has four wheels and can carry much heav­ier loads, some as much as 2,200 pounds. Be­cause all of the weight rests on two axles, no lift­ing at all is re­quired to pull the load. Some also have re­mov­able side­walls, so they can be con­verted into flatbeds for bulky items. How­ever, hav­ing two axles spaced at the front and back of the load means that ma­neu­ver­abil­ity in tight spa­ces is lim­ited. Fi­nally, there is a dolly or muck

bucket cart, which is a metal-framed unit, of­ten with an ad­justable han­dle, de­signed to hold one or two 70-quart buck­ets. This can be a light­weight, in­ex­pen­sive al­ter­na­tive if you have only one or two horses, but it prob­a­bly doesn’t of­fer enough ca­pac­ity for some­one who has to muck and feed a full barn.

Heavy vs. Light Duty

Wheel­bar­rows and carts are typ­i­cally di­vided into two cat­e­gories: those for home­own­ers, and those for con­trac­tors or in­dus­trial use.

The con­trac­tor grade mod­els, called heavy duty, have sturdy con­struc­tion, typ­i­cally with added steel sup­ports for the un­der­side and a heav­ier gauge plas­tic or steel for the car­rier tray. These mod­els are built for a larger ca­pac­ity (six to 10 cu­bic feet) and are more ex­pen­sive. It takes more mus­cle to use them when they’re loaded, but these wheel­bar­rows will with­stand years of pun­ish­ing use and are the bet­ter choice for hard, daily work.

The home­owner mod­els are in­tended for oc­ca­sional use in land­scap­ing or yard work. They are lighter weight and usu­ally have a smaller ca­pac­ity (four to six cu­bic feet); they are also less ex­pen­sive. These mod­els might be suitable for use in a small barn, or they might be pre­ferred by some­one who has dif­fi­culty han­dling heav­ier loads, but they won’t last as long when put to rig­or­ous use.

Ma­te­rial Choices

Plas­tic is of­ten pre­ferred for wheel­bar­rows or carts used in horse barns be­cause it is ver­sa­tile, durable and light­weight; it is easy to clean; and it re­quires lit­tle main­te­nance. Even so, with heavy use over time, plas­tic car­ri­ers may scratch, al­low­ing residues to ac­cu­mu­late,, and they can crack and break.

Metal trays, usu­ally made of steel with some sort of pro­tec­tive coat­ing, are stronger and more durable than plas­tic but they are also heav­ier and re­quire more main­te­nance. These mod­els are de­signed for jobs that re­quire heat, such as mix­ing as­phalt.

Take It For a Spin

As good as a par­tic­u­lar wheel­bar­row or cart may look, you won’t know if it’s right for you un­til you try it out. The height of the han­dles and the way the car­rier bal­ances over the wheels will make a big dif­fer­ence in how eas­ily you can use it. Also con­sider the height of the bed and how high you’d have to reach or how low you’d have to stoop to load and un­load it.

If pos­si­ble, try out the mod­els you are in­ter­ested in at the store. Pile some bags of feed or mulch into the car­rier tray and see whether you’re strong enough to han­dle it when it’s loaded. Don’t for­get to see how read­ily it turns, es­pe­cially if you’re con­sid­er­ing a twowheeled model.

Choos­ing the right wheel­bar­row or cart for the task at hand can help you speed through your chores while avoid­ing an aching back and shoul­ders at the end of the day. And that will leave you more time to en­joy your horses.

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