I first learned about Cape Carts when I was told that a Fell and a Fell cross had pulled one on a television show in England. So when last week’s Driving Radio Show featured a story about a Cape Cart, I had to tune in. (Click here for the Driving Radio Show episode.)
A Cape Cart is, as its name implies, a cart, but it is intended to be pulled by a pair of equines rather than a single. The name of this vehicle derives from its common use in South Africa early in the twentieth century (click here to see an image from the Second Boer War.)
Cape Carts were preferred for several reasons. For instance, they were designed to seat as many as four people yet could be navigated easily over rough, even roadless, ground, unlike a wagon. In addition, they could accommodate an unmatched pair of equines more easily than other vehicles. Another important feature was that the carts were usually covered for protection from the sun and thunderstorms (click here to see a photo of a Cape Cart at the Carriage Museum of America.)
The Driving Radio Show featured an interview with Kathleen Conklin who rigorously researched and had built a Cape Cart here in the United States. I was surprised to learn that while Cape Carts seem to be tied to South Africa in name, they were sometimes built in the United States and exported. (Click here to see a catalog entry from the Birch Carriage Company in Burlington, New Jersey.)
It was on the television program Old Country with Jack Hargreaves that I saw the connection between a Cape Cart and Fell Ponies. Hargreaves decided to construct a Cape Cart, and he put a Fell and Fell cross to the cart in its trial run.
Kathleen’s motivation for building her Cape Cart was in part that she didn’t have room to transport two equines and a wagon to shows, so she wanted a cart that a pair could be put to. Kathleen no longer has a pair, so she is selling her Cape Cart. Click here for more information.
The Partnered Pony™ will be publishing a more complete discussion of Cape Carts in an upcoming issue of The Partnered Pony™ Inquirer. Click here to be kept informed.