Several weeks ago, we began a read-along of sorts: small weekly morsels comprising the chapter on tandem driving in the first volume of  The Sports Library (by Mr. T. F. Dale), published in 1899.

If you didn’t start reading along with us from the beginning, you can catch up by reading part of the book’s introduction (and the introduction to our look back at this nineteenth-century book) and parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven of Chapter 10.

Today, the eighth part:

… As you glance over your team before starting, see that everything is in its place, the back-band is sufficiently loose, and the cart so balanced that the wheeler trots comfortably; the tongues of the buckles standing up from time to time. A glance shows you that the wheeler is drawing from his traces and not from the shafts, while the leader is just barely carrying his bar. Then as you come to a rise in the ground, the thong flies lightly off the crop, touching the leader under the bar and making him spring forward into his collar. As you reach the crown of the hill or just before it, you loop back the leader’s reins. The clink of the bar and chains tell you the leader is no longer drawing, and you go steadily down the descent.

It is evident that one of the dangers of tandem-driving is that a too-free leader will pull the wheeler on to his nose. The leader ought never to be really at work save up a rise or in very deep ground. The wheeler of course does most of the work, but it is wonderful what a great difference to his power of work the leader makes. At the hardest points of the road there are two instead of one. Besides horses go much more gaily when there are two than when there is only one.

My last stage in, on one of my frontier journeys, was about ten miles, part of which was over a deep and sandy road. On one occasion after the change the syce let the leader from the last stage go, and she came galloping up and ranged alongside the leader with a whinny. She trotted beside him all the way, having of course not a stitch of harness on. Never had my team gone so pleasantly or easily. Always after that the mare was let loose over that last stage and always trotted home with the team, seeming to encourage and cheer those at work. I found in practice that I averaged with a tandem, with a heavy load and rough roads, about seven and a half to eight miles an hour, which must be considered fair going, and I did about thirty miles a day with the teams. Thus in the morning, one team was sent out seven or eight miles. When I overtook it I changed, going on to the place where I halted for breakfast. The pair that came in first went out first in the afternoon, and the change was effected in the same way: all thus, of course, traveled thirty miles, but were in harness for only fifteen. The ponies — ordinary country-bred polo ponies — were never sick or sorry. …