Last Saturday, we started with a “reading” of the chapter on tandem driving in the first volume of  The Sports Library (by Mr. T. F. Dale), published in 1899. You can read part of the book’s introduction (and the introduction to our look back at this nineteenth-century book) here.

Today, we have the second part:

… But it may be gathered that during the three years I drove up and down the frontier, I learned something of tandem-driving from a practical point of view.

For example, I learned that breast harness is not nearly so good as collars on rough roads, and that horses that will draw well in a collar will hang back and sometimes take to jibbing altogether in breast harness. In very rough and stiff ground where I wanted all the draft power I could get, I used to unhook the leader’s traces from the usual place and put them on to rings put for that purpose at the end of the shafts. This gave a more direct pull on the load, and certainly made more effectual use of the horse power.

As a rule, however, I drove with the ordinary long traces. This works well enough with a fairly good or willing horse, but with an awkward leader they add greatly to the difficulties of driving, for if the leader hangs back obstinately the wheeler may get its leg over the traces. Of course, when driving fresh-caught Indian country-breds of various sorts, an awkward leader was not uncommon, and many very good travelers were a bit nasty at starting, especially until they got used to it. I may say truly that I have had my leader in every possible and impossible position in relation to the cart. I have had him riding on the step, of course, but that is a commonplace of tandem-driving. I have had him with his head under the shafts behind the wheeler’s tail. I have had him on his back under the cart. I have had him rolled up into a kind of tangle so that he had to be cut out of his harness. But I always got to my journey’s end.

Yet much of my trouble might have been saved me if I had begun as I ended, by driving with bars. To my mind these have simplified tandem-driving immensely, have reduced the danger, if there ever was any, and added greatly to the pleasure. With long traces a certain space was always required to turn in, but with bars a tandem can easily be turned in its own length, and the leader is much more easily put to or detached. …

We’ll continue with Mr. Dale’s tandem-driving tales next Saturday!