A sulky is a lightweight cart used for harness racing. It has two wheels and a small seat for only a single driver. The modern racing sulky has shafts that extend in a continuous bow behind the driver's seat, with wire-spoked "bike" wheels and inflated tyres.[1][2] A sulky is frequently called a "bike". Historically, sulkies were built for trotting matches and made from wood with very tall wheels and almost no body, just a simple frame supporting a single seat.[3] Such vehicles were called "sulkies" because they were "said to have been chosen by unsociable people fond of their own company or fits of sulking".[1]

Harness racing sulky (2007)
Horse show sulky for roadster classes (2012)
Wooden racing sulky (c. 1895-1910)
Horse-drawn mower with a "sulky seat"[1]

A horse show vehicle used in roadster classes is also called a sulky. The drivers dress in racing silks and show their horses at a fast trot around the showring.[4]

Other uses of the term sulky include:

  • the single metal seat found on many horse-drawn agricultural implements such as ploughs, mowers and rakes.[1]
  • the logging arch, a log-transport tool on wheels, is also called a logging sulky and may be towed manually or by horses or tractors.[5]

Harness racing edit

There are three types of sulkies used in harness racing.

  • Race Bikes are the only style allowed to be used in races or qualifying heats. They are more compact and aerodynamics than a jog cart, have smaller seats that reduce weight, but require more athleticism for the driver to sit upon. Shafts may be of carbon fibre, aluminum, titanium, stainless steel or, less often, wood.
  • Jog carts, used only for training, are bigger and bulkier than a racing cart. These may sometimes be known as Roadcarts. The shafts may be wood, aluminum, steel or stainless steel. They have bigger seats which requires less athleticism to sit upon, and may also seat two. The most modern styles provide full independent suspension by hydraulic dampers and progressive rate coil springs. These give both a smoother ride and higher speeds than traditional types. They are also lighter.
  • Speed carts have a similar design to race bikes in a single seat and stirrups for the driver, but have road tires, mud flaps, longer shafts and are heavier than race bikes. Some may have a limited form of suspension built into the seat. These are usually made of steel and are heavier than race bikes but much lighter than jog carts.

When it rains, or the track has excessive moisture, trainers and drivers are required to put plastic mud flaps on the back of the wheels. All race bikes must comply with the relevant procedures and standards in order to be approved. Race bikes may not have any component that will directly interfere with another horse or driver.

Race sulkies come in two categories:

An "improved sulky" with pneumatic tires and adjustable height was patented at the United States Patent Office by W.J. Hamill on August 15, 1893. (see Google patents) The asymmetric sulky was patented in Australia in the 1980s and came to prominence in 1987 when a two-year-old gelding named Rowleyalla used one to break the then world record for his category, at 3.4 seconds under the existing mark.

In 1990 the asymmetric sulky was introduced into North America, winning seven of its first nine starts at Freehold, NJ. Today the great majority of sulky manufacturers in North America are producing asymmetric sulkies.

An additional sulky type is the "team-to-pole" or "pairs" sulky, a lightweight single seat sulky designed for draft by two horses abreast.

These may also be split into two types:

  • Traditional pole and yoke with draft by traces.
  • Dorsal hitch with draft direct from the saddle to the yoke and, via the pole, to the sulky.

Of the two, the dorsal hitch pairs sulky is the most recent, holding all current world pairs speed records over the mile to July 31, 2005.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d Smith, D.J.M. (1988). A Dictionary of Horse Drawn Vehicles. J. A. Allen & Co. Ltd. pp. 92, 157. ISBN 0851314686. OL 11597864M. Sulky. Any type of vehicle or farm implement with room on the driving seat for one person only, rather than having a shared or double cross-bench. Said to have been chosen by unsociable people fond of their own company or fits of sulking.
  2. ^ Walrond, Sallie (1979). The Encyclopaedia of Driving. Country Life Books. p. 259. ISBN 0600331822. OL 4175648M. Sulky. A low single-seat vehicle which is built of tubular steel and has two small pneumatic-tyred wheels. It is used for trotting and pacing races. Early Sulkies were built with a single seat on a high framework above large wheels. They were so named because of the solitary confinement of the driver.
  3. ^ Carlisle, Lilian Baker (1956). The Carriages at Shelburne Museum. Shelburne Museum. p. 50. OL 6215577M.
  4. ^ "Roadster". United States Equestrian Federation.
  5. ^ "Manually operated sulkies" (PDF). RECOFTC - The Center for People and Forests. 2015.

External links edit