Q&A Questions and Answers:
I am taking a story writing class.
Sorry, but I am not a horse person (raised in the big city). In order to make things seem more realistic for my stories, I need to find out how fast two horses can pull a flatbed wagon on level ground - dirt road. In my story, they need to cover approximately 15-20 miles. The wagon would have a load of no more than 200 or 300 pounds.
Setting: early 1900s, weather is clear, 65-70 degrees, daytime travel. Elevation approx. 7,000 - constant.
After several hours of rest, can the team again cover the same ground, or do I have to change horses?
Here's a little info that may help you with your story:
On the ride from Grand Rapids to Effie this summer, we had three wagons drawn by two-horse teams. We were at a much lower altitude (roughly 3,000 feet above sea level), but the horses were pulling a lot more than 300 pounds (in at least one case, over a ton -- not counting the wagon) and the heat was brutal. Assuming your horses are acclimatized to that elevation I'd guess that the wear and tear on the horses in your story would be less than what we experienced. The first leg of our journey was about 19 miles and we covered it in an easy five hours -- including about one hour for lunch and to feed and water the horses. Overall, we were moving at an average of less than 5 MPH. With lighter loads and if we had needed to get there in a hurry, we probably could have bumped that speed to somewhere around 7 MPH. After a night's rest, the stock was ready to go again, and held up well for the rest of the 60 miles. Therefore, your travelers shouldn't need to change teams.
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