Table of Shaft Lengths and Widths


One of the first questions people ask when they go out looking for a carriage is "How do I know if it will fit?" Over the years there have been several charts printed to aid people by giving dimensions to help in buying the right size. This is a compilation of  some of that information into one chart. How is this kind of chart possible? While horses body types are not identical, there is a dimensional ratio between various parts of the body compared with the height at the withers and this is adequately similar for the purposes of shaft design for different sizes of horse or pony.  

What parts of the body need to be considered? Wither height, width at the shoulder, width at the saddle girth, croup width, length of trunk from point of shoulder to buttock and location of the stifle.  An additional consideration is normal length of stride. Taking all these factors together helps define the space needed to give the horse sufficient room to move and to be comfortable, while also allowing room for the harness, and some leeway for a slightly larger or smaller animal.  The information in this chart defines approximate dimensions needed to build or buy a traditional style of two-wheeled single horse vehicles or 4-wheeled pole type vehicles to fit a wide range of horse sizes. Adjustments may need to be made to accommodate heavy draft type horses, donkeys and small ponies or mini-horses. Vehicles designed for specific purposes like the modern marathon vehicle or an antique gig will often differ in dimensions to meet their specific needs. For example: marathon shafts are shorter and end at the saddle girth, or some gigs are made with narrower widths between the shafts. The size and design of the harness may also affect how a vehicle fits. A bulky saddle could require more space between the shafts. Style of breeching may affect the position of the breeching staple. Also the chart describes wheel height for two-wheeled vehicles. Wheels will be smaller on four-wheeled vehicles.  

Table of Shaft Lengths and Widths for Traditional Style Vehicles 

for Traditional Style Vehicles for Single Turnouts
Measurements in inches

Animal Height (in Hands) 17H 16H 15H 14H 13H 12H 11H 10H
Length of Shaft from Swingletree to Tip 85 80 75 70 65 60 55 50
Height from Ground under Shafts at Back-band Tugs 55 52 49 46 43 40 36 32
Width between Shafts at Back-band Tugs 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18
Width of Swingletree 36 34 31 30 28.5 27 25.5 24
Length from Back-band Tug to Shaft Tip 24 22 20.5 19 17.5 16 14 12
Length from Back-band Tug Stop to Trace Hook 56 53 50 47 44 41 38 35
Distance from Breeching Staple to Trace Hook 30.5 29 27.5 26 24.5 23 21.5 20
Wheels - Diameter 51 48 45 42 39 36 33 30

Table of Pole and Splinter-Bar Measurements for Fixed Pole Carriages

For Pair and Four-in-Hand Turnouts
Measurements in Inches

Animal Height (in Hands) 17H 16H 15H 14H 13H 12H 11H 10H
Width of Swingletrees 36 34 31 30 28.5 27 25.5 24
Length of Pole from Splinter Bar to Polehead 115 110 106 99 94 87 80 72
Splinter Bar Length 68 64 62 60 58 56 53 50
Height of Pole End 45 42 39 37 35 34 31 28
Height of Splinter Bar 40 36 34 33 30 28 26 24