1. How much do the horses weigh and how much can they pull?
The horses weigh between 1650 and 1750 pounds apiece. A draft horse can pull a dead weight along the ground (draft) equal to 1/10 their body weight for 8 hours a day. For short distances, they can pull ten to fifteen times as much. The fully loaded wagon will only draft at 300 - 400 pounds on flat ground. However when itís going up hills, the amount of draft increases with the steepness of the hill. Thatís why I use four horses.
2. How much do the horses eat?
When working in the harness all day, each horse will eat about 10 - 15 pounds of grain and about 30 pounds of grass or hay a day. Note - as the mileage increases so does the amount of grain I feed. When pulling 100 miles a week, I feed 20 pounds of grain per horse each day. I have a portable electric fence and fence charger on the wagon. In about 10 minutes, I can fence off about a half acre of grass for them. This helps reduce the amount of feed that I have to carry on the wagon.
3. How much does the wagon weigh?
Fully loaded the wagon weighs about 4000 pounds. About a third of that weight is supplies for the horses: hay, grain, and water. Horseshoes and nails alone, for three months of travel weigh about 100 pounds.
4. Why are you doing this? Are you supporting some cause, or some group?
The short answer to that question is - ďI couldnít think of a cooler thing to do.Ē It combines all the best things I want to do in life. I like horses and driving them. I like to meet new people, see new places and experience new things. This is a way I can do all of these things, with almost no bills and still haul around a nice house with me. I also get a chance to show other people a piece of history they donít see much of anymore. The cause or ideal Iím supporting is that life in the slow lane is really pretty good. The best things in life are not bought in a store; rather, theyíre things like meeting your neighbors, a warm handshake, helping one another, watching a kidís face as he sees four great horses leaning into their collars as they pull a wagon up a hill. If thatís a cause, then yeah, Iím supporting it.
5. Who shoeís the horses?
I do, but not all of them in one day. Iím not 20 years old anymore, so that would be a little hard on my back. A set of shoes should last about six weeks.
6. How can you afford a trip like this. Doesnít it cost a lot of money?
Itís actually a fairly cheap way of traveling. My only real bills are for a wireless computer data card and a cell phone - about $100 per month. Most of my expenses are for horse feed, and food for myself. Eventually, Iíll have to depend on the generosity of people along the way to help out, or find a way to generate some income.
7. Where are you headed - do you have a route laid out?
I donít have any firm destination. I prefer to remain flexible and go where on want on a given day. I generally try to avoid the larger cities and I donít travel on interstates, but other then that, everywhere else is a possible destination or route. When the weather starts getting cool in the fall, Iíll turn south and try to leave most of the snow behind. When it gets warm in the spring, Iíll head north before it gets to hot in the south.
8. Do you have to travel only on back roads or do you need a special permit to travel?
Except for expressways, I have as much right to travel on any road in the country as everyone else. Whenever possible, Iíll try to pull off the road and let car traffic by, but only if I can do it safely. I donít want to delay other people on the road anymore than I have to, but there will be the inevitable backups as I move down the road at a comfortable 3 mph. No permit or license is required for a horse drawn vehicle. I need to have a slow moving vehicle sign (orange triangle) on the back of the wagon. In addition Iíll have lights to help ensure I donít become a hazard to people moving along at 60 mph.