I keep my tack in my house, and carry it out to the barn when I ride the horses. My back isn't great, so carrying the saddles is not easy. I wanted a saddle cart, but as usual I didn't want to pay what they cost premade, and thought I could do a better job anyway.
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Step 1: Tools and Supplies
These are pretty straightforward, for once.
I got a cheap Harbor Freight handtruck and a hanging double saddle rack. The rest of the supplies I had around the house.
* Hand truck with a center vertical bar to stabilize the hanging rack ($40ish)
* Double hanging saddle rack ($20ish)
* Hanging bridle bag
* A selection of hose clamps
* Some pipe insulation for padding
* A few bungee cords (I ended up using 3 that were about 18")
* I also used a pair of stirrup inserts that don't fit any of my stirrups, and a 4" piece of 1"x1" square metal tube.
* Flat screwdriver for the hose clamps
Step 2: Asembly 1
I started by bungeeing the crate securely to the base of the hand truck. I used a bungee at the top and one at the center to hold it firmly so it won't rattle.
Then I set the hanging saddle rack on the hand truck in various ways to see how I liked it best. I decided to secure it to the top bar.
The angle at which it was sitting was a problem; the rack was angling down in front. I grabbed that piece of 1"x1" square metal tubing, wrapped it in pipe insulation, and stuck it between the base of the saddle rack and the vertical bar of the hand truck. Good enough! There's still some slant but once I tip the hand truck to roll it, it won't matter.
The top hooks of the saddle rack were wider than the top bar of the hand truck. I put some nice firm pieces of rubber there--the stirrup pads that don't fit my stirrups.
I set a saddle on the rack to make sure it was looking good so far. So far so good! But of course if I left it like that, the saddle rack would just slide off any time we hit a bump.
There were three points to be secured with a hose clamp: each of the hooks at the top of the rack, and the base of the rack. I cut pieces of pipe insulation for two reasons:
1) to prevent the hose clamp from scratching the rack and the hand truck (scratches in the enamel will rust), and
2) to help secure everything with that rubbery surface, and keep things from clanking as the cart goes over bumps.
I set each piece of insulation in place to make sure I had everything ready. (Apparently my photos of the not-yet-clamped in place rack went astray, so these are included for visualization but they're already clamped.)
Step 3: Assembly 2
At this point I looked for a way to secure the hanging bridle bag. One of the criticisms I've read of the pre-made saddle carts is that if you hang a bridle off their hooks, it drags on the ground when you tip the cart to roll it. So I wanted to use the bridle bag, which will hold the top AND the bottom of bridles (or halters) as we roll along.
It didn't seem to go along the back or the front, with the rack in place, so I hung it front the side to see if it would interfere. This worked pretty well, so I looked for ways to secure it down properly. Hey, that's nifty, if I hung the top loop over the saddle rack hook on that side, then I could further secure it with the same hose clamp I would use to secure the hook itself.
I hung it in place and then used a bungee to secure the bottom to the side of the hand truck. I put a bridle in it to test and make sure that it would be usable and that it would, indeed, keep the bridles from dragging on the ground. It worked!
Step 4: Assembly 3
All that remained to do was to put the hose clamps in place. Sadly, my box o'hose clamps didn't have any that were large enough. So for each clamp site, I had to unscrew two hose clamps all the way, and attach them together.
Then I simply put the clamp around the covering insulation, the rack, and the hand truck bars, and tightened it until it didn't move.
It was a little tricky getting the hose clamp ends to meet up, and then I had to re-set the insulation a couple of times for each spot as I tightened them down. It kept wanting to slip up or down, away from the pressure. But as long as I paid attention to the position of everything that was getting clamped, it all ended up okay.
You can see that I've crimped the hose clamp on either side of the saddle rack's hooks, just to make sure everything stays nice and secure.
Step 5: Finished Cart
I tested with two saddles and a bridle, and it rolls easily and well-balanced with one or two saddles on it. It's a little top-heavy and wants to tip forward if it's left to stand with two saddles on it; this could probably be solved by making the rack tip up instead of down, or possibly by putting a riser under the bottom of the hand-truck base to shift the balance a little.
I don't intend to carry two saddles at once much, and will make sure to set it on level, solid ground if I do. Mostly it'll carry one saddle at a time, and it will do a fantastic job at that.
As soon as the horses get used to it.
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