Horse-drawn vehicle

Horse-drawn vehicle

Horse-drawn vehicles were once common worldwide, but they have mostly been replaced by automobiles and other forms of self-propelled transport.


A two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle is a cart (see various types below, both for carrying people and for goods). Four-wheeled vehicles have many names – one for heavy loads is most commonly called a wagon.

Very light carts and wagons can also be pulled by donkeys (much smaller than horses), ponies or mules. Other smaller animals are occasionally used, such as large dogs, llamas and goats (see draught animals).

Heavy wagons, carts and agricultural implements can also be pulled by other large draught animals such as oxen, water buffalo, yaks or even camels and elephants.

Vehicles pulled by one animal (or by animals in "tandem" – single file) have two "shafts" which attach either side of the rearmost animal (the "wheel" animal or "wheeler"). Vehicles pulled by a pair (or by a team of several pairs) have a "pole" which attaches between the wheel pair. Other arrangements are also possible, for example three or more abreast (a "troika"), a wheel pair with a single lead animal (a "unicorn"), or a wheel pair with three lead animals abreast (a "pickaxe"). Very heavy loads sometimes had an additional team behind to slow the vehicle down steep hills. Sometimes at a steep hill with frequent traffic such a team would be hired to passing wagons to help them up or down the hill.

Two-wheeled vehicles are balanced by the distribution of weight of the load (driver, passengers and goods) over the axle, and then held level by the animal – this means that the shafts (or sometimes a pole for two animals) must be fixed rigidly to the vehicle's body. Four-wheeled vehicles remain level on their own, and so the shafts or pole are hinged vertically, allowing them to rise and fall with the movement of the animals. A four-wheeled vehicle is also steered by the shafts or pole, which are attached to the front axle; this swivels on a "turntable" or "fifth wheel" beneath the vehicle.

Vehicles primarily for carrying people


*Ambulance: Much the same purpose as the modern sense. Details of the design varied but would be a lightly-built and well-sprung, enclosed vehicle with provision for seated casualties and stretchers.
*Barouche: An elegant, high-slung, open carriage with a seat in the rear of the body and a raised bench at the front for the driver, a servant.
*Bus: See "omnibus"
*Buggy: A light, open, four-wheeled carriage, often driven by its owner. It is an American design.
*Cab: A shortening of "cabriolet". Joseph Hansom based the design of his public hire vehicle on the cabriolet so the name "cab" stuck to vehicles for public hire.
*Calash or Calèshe: See "barouche".
*Cape cart
*Carriage: In the late eighteenth century, roughly equivalent to the modern word "vehicle" [Walker] . It later came to be restricted to "passenger vehicle" and even to "private, enclosed passenger vehicle" [Britannica] . This last is the sense adopted by the linked article.
*Covered wagon: The name given to canvas-topped farm wagons used by North American settlers to move both their families and household goods westward. Also called "Conestoga wagon" and "prairie schooner".
*Dog cart: A sprung cart used for transporting a gentleman, his loader, and his gun dogs.
*Drag (carriage)
*Droshky or Drozhki
*Four-in-hand coach
*Gig (carriage)
*Governess cart: A sprung cart with two inward-facing benches, high sides and entry at the back. The upper part of the body was often of wicker.
*Hackney carriage
*Hansom cab: A one-horsed, two-wheeled, maneuverable public hire vehicle.
*Jaunting car: A sprung cart in which passengers sat back to back with their feet outboard of the wheels. An Irish design.
*Kid hack: A van used in the US for carrying children to and from school.
*Meadowbrook (carriage)
*One-horse carriage
*Outside car: See "jaunting car".
*Phaeton: An early nineteenth century sports car.
*Post chaise
*Ralli car: a light two wheeled sprung cart (gig) with two forward-facing and two rear-facing seats back-to-back, and a sliding fore-and-aft seat adjustment to allow the vehicle to balance with different numbers of passengers.
*Sleigh: a vehicle with runners for use in snow (or when delivering children's presents).
*Spider phaeton
*Sprung cart: A light, two-wheeled vehicle with springing, for informal passenger use. Its name varied according to the body mounted on it. See dog cart, gig, governess cart, jaunting car, and trap.
*Stagecoach: A public coach travelling in timetabled stages between stables which supply fresh horses.
*Stanhope (carriage): A light, open, one-seated carriage: originally with two wheels, later also with four.
*State Coach: A very grand coach used for royal state occasions. For example, Gold State Coach, Irish State Coach and Scottish State Coach.
*Sulky: a very light two-wheeled cart for one person, especially used for harness racing.
*Tarantass or Tarantas
*Training cart or training tr
motorcycle wheels, and sometimes with adjustable shafts for different-sized horses.
*Trap: An open sprung cart. Often used in a general sense to cover any small passenger-carrying cart.
*Troika: A sleigh drawn by three horses harnessed abreast. Occasionally, a similar wheeled vehicle.
*Vardo (gypsy wagon): A vardo is a traditional horse-drawn wagon used by English Romani Gypsies.
*Victoria: A one-horse carriage with a front-facing bench seat. The body was slung low, in front of the back axle. Driven by a servant.
*Village cart
*Wagonette: a four-wheeled vehicle for carrying people, usually with a forward-facing seat at the front and two rows of inward-facing seats behind.


*Streetcar: Another US name for a horsecar.
*Tram Another non-American name for a horsecar.


*Fly boat: A canal boat which changed horses at stages and could therefore keep moving, care being taken to maximize its speed.

Vehicles primarily for carrying goods


*Bow wagon: A simple agricultural wagon with laths bowed over the wheels in the manner of mudguards, to keep bulky loads such as straw from contact with them. An Australian design.
*Un-sprung cart: A simple two-wheeled vehicle for workaday use in carrying bulk loads. It was usually drawn by one horse.
*Chasse-marée: A four-horse adaptation of the cart principle for the rapid delivery of fish to French markets.
*Conestoga wagon: A large, curved-bottom wagon for carrying commercial or government freight. See "covered wagon".
*Dray: Particularly in Australia and New Zealand, an un-sprung cart. In Britain, even in the 18th century, the name came to be associated with brewers' deliveries so that the later vehicle that was more correctly called a trolley also came to be known as a "brewer's dray". These are still seen at horse shows in Britain.:Also a sledge used for moving felled trees in the same way as the wheeled skidder. (See implements, below). It could be used in woodland, apparently with or without snow, but was useful on frozen lakes and waterways. [OED]
*Float: A light, two-wheeled domestic delivery vehicle with the centre of its axle cranked downward to allow low-loading and easy access to the goods. It was used particularly for milk delivery.
*Lorry: A low-loading platform body with four small wheels mounted underneath it. The driver's seat was mounted on the headboard.
*Mail coach: A stagecoach primarily for the carriage of mail, though also carrying passengers.
*Mophrey: An un-sprung cart which could be extended forwards with the addition of front wheels. It was used by small farmers as and when dense or bulky loads were to be carried (muck-spreading and harvest). An eastern English design.
*Pantechnicon van: Originally, a van used by The Pantechnicon for delivering goods to its customers.
*Prairie schooner: The name given years later to the canvas-topped farm wagons used by North American settlers to move their families and capital goods westward. See covered wagon and Conestoga wagon.
*Travois: A very simple sledge used for moving relatively small loads, consisting of a pair of shafts dragging on the ground.
*Trolley: Like a lorry, but with slightly larger wheels and slightly higher deck. The driver's seat was mounted on the headboard.
*Trolley and lift van: A standardized trolley and a lift van, a standardized box, designed to fit each other or any other of the same sort. The lift van was the direct counterpart of the modern container in the materials and size appropriate to its time.
*Wagon: See also twenty mule team


*Rubbish wagon or slab wagon or slate wagon: A small, four-wheeled truck used for carrying blocks of slate out of a quarry.
*Dandy waggon: A special rail car on a gravity train used to transport the horse while coasting down a hill.


*Broad boat: Used on the broad (14 ft) canals of Britain and towed from the tow path.
*Flatboat: A canal boat of simple box-shaped design used on nineteenth century American waterways.
*Horse-drawn boat: A general term relating to broad or narrow canal boats for passenger or freight carriage.
*Narrowboat: Used on the narrow (7 ft) canals of Britain and towed from the tow path.
*Slow boat: A canal boat which used only one team of horses which must stop each night to rest.

Agricultural and other implements

*Calliope or Fairground organ
*Seed drill

War vehicles

*Gun carriage
*Horse artillery
*Scythed chariot

ee also

*Horse harness
*Driving (horse)


*"Encyclopædia Britannica" (1960)
*Ingram, A. "Horse-Drawn Vehicles Since 1760" (1977) ISBN 0-7137-0820-4
*Oxford English Dictionary (1971 & 1987) ISBN 0-19-861212-5
*Walker, J. "A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language" (1791)

External links

* [ Articles about Horse-drawn Carriages]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • horse-drawn vehicle — noun a wheeled vehicle drawn by one or more horses • Hypernyms: ↑wheeled vehicle • Hyponyms: ↑carriage, ↑equipage, ↑rig, ↑chariot, ↑limber, ↑sulky …   Useful english dictionary

  • horse-drawn — adjective pulled by a horse a horse drawn carriage • Pertains to noun: ↑horse * * * horse drawn UK US adjective pulled by a horse or by several horses Thesaurus: road vehicles pulled by horseshyponym * * * adj. (of a vehicle) pulled b …   Useful english dictionary

  • horse-drawn — also horsedrawn ADJ: ADJ n A horse drawn carriage, cart, or other vehicle is one that is pulled by one or more horses. The Queen arrives for the ceremony in a horse drawn open topped carriage …   English dictionary

  • horse-drawn — /ˈhɔs drɔn/ (say haws drawn) adjective (of a vehicle) pulled along by a horse: a horse drawn carriage. Also, horsedrawn …  

  • horse-drawn — adj. Horse drawn is used with these nouns: ↑cab, ↑caravan, ↑carriage, ↑cart, ↑plough, ↑vehicle, ↑wagon …   Collocations dictionary

  • Lorry (horse-drawn) — Among horse drawn vehicles, a lorry was a low loading trolley. It was used mainly for the carriage of other vehicles, for example for delivery from the coachbuilders or returning there for repair.Its very small wheels were mounted under the deck… …   Wikipedia

  • horse-drawn — adjective (pertaining to a vehicle such as a cart, carriage etc.) pulled along by a horse …   Wiktionary

  • horse-drawn — adjective (of a vehicle) pulled by a horse or horses …   English new terms dictionary

  • Horse harness — Horse in harness with horse collar A closeup of a …   Wikipedia

  • Trolley (horse-drawn) — A tram (trolley) or trolleybus is something else .Among horse drawn vehicles, a trolley was a goods vehicle with a platform body with four small wheels of equal size, mounted underneath it, the front two on a turntable undercarriage. The wheels… …   Wikipedia

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