A couple of weeks ago, I started sharing, in small weekly morsels, 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. The first part of our “reading” of Chapter 10 is here, and the second part is here.

Today, the third part:

… Now for a few practical hints as to driving tandem. First of all let us clear the way by removing some fallacies which are current on the subject. I have heard it said often enough that to drive tandem is harder than to drive a team, and people have even gone further and deduced from this the conclusion that if you can do one, you can do the other. There never was a greater piece of self-deception. Assuming for a moment that your leader will go straight, tandem is by far the easiest form of coachmanship, and if fairly well done, the safest. Two horses driven as a pair are far more likely to make up their minds together to run away, than two horses tandem fashion. I have three times been run away with in a tandem, and have each time been able to stop the horses by playing them off one against the other, as it were.

But let us begin at the beginning and consider what sort of cart is best for a tandem. In the first place it should not be too light, for horses go better if they have something to draw, and a tandem cart should be able to balance well and carry four people, and if necessary some luggage. No better measurements for a tandem cart can be found than those given by Lady Georgiana Curzon in her most excellent article on the subject in the Badminton volume on Driving. I speak with confidence, for I have had two carts built to the measurements there laid down and found them to answer admirably. With regard to the harness, I like it as light as possible, but I prefer, in the country certainly, on a tour, to have breeching on the wheeler.

It is on the whole more convenient to pass the leader’s reins through the ear-rings of the wheeler than to have them through the terrets often affixed to the sides of the wheeler’s heads. Lead reins so arranged have a greater tendency to worry the wheelers, the objection to them being precisely the same as to head-terrets for the wheelers in a team. I prefer to attach the leader by a bar, but if long traces are preferred there is no objection to them, always bearing in mind, however, that the lead traces should not be one inch longer than is necessary. The shorter a tandem is the better it looks, and the easier it is to drive. Collars look smarter and are a better method of draught than breast harness. The only advantage that I can see in the latter is that it fits any pony. This is no doubt a gain, for tandem is a very useful way of driving in a polo stable. There is no better way of exercising the choicest animals of the stud than putting them in the lead of a tandem. Trotting out with no weight on their backs is capital exercise, and exercise is just the one thing of which there is seldom enough in a polo stable. And here I may say that tandem-driving is more suited for small than large animals, and it certainly looks much better.

Polo playing and tandem-driving go well together. I remember well when living at some distance from a polo ground in India, I often put two ponies in a tandem cart and drove the five or six miles, with my groom up behind with sticks and saddles. I then took the ponies out, played polo, and drove home again, finding both ponies as fresh as possible the next day. In fact I look on a tandem cart and harness from all points of view as a most useful adjunct to a polo stable. It is very convenient in the country, it saves labor in the stable, and is an excellent method of keeping ponies in condition. I am also of the opinion that being driven in a tandem tends to make ponies handy, and I have found it an excellent plan with shy or nervous ponies wanted for polo. In the country one is always having to drive into the town for something, and nothing is better for young ponies than to go to the station, stand outside a shop, or turn in and out of gates. But for young ponies intended for polo I should certainly not recommend harness work in a cart, carrying three people, whereas as leader in a tandem no possible harm can be done, and a great deal of useful work is put in and some excellent lessons are taught. …