In my experience, determining how tight, or loose, to hook the traces when hitching a team can be a bit challenging for beginners. This is because a number of interdependent dynamics and variables between the pulling system and the holdback system must be considered, and because it’s ultimately a judgment call rather than a simple measurement or clear cut rule.
My forecart pole is set up for draft horses. My husband thinks we should cut the pole off to permanently make it fit better to these smaller horses. What would be your opinion? Like your husband, my preference would be a shorter tongue for a small team like your Fjords. The dynamics and efficiency of draft are better if we have our horse(s) close to the load. A shorter tongue will also reduce the overall length of your outfit, thereby giving you better maneuverability and turning dynamics.
This was my 2000 & 2001 project rebuilding 3 stockton gang plows, butt chain harness, and Gene Hilty’s 21 head Schandoney Hitch. Also helping George Cabral to train 8 mules for a cadre to hook what mules we could find to pull it. All the old pictures I could find showed 8 or 10 head on one or two plows. To center the 21 Schandoney I needed 3 plows, 13 bottoms with 143″ cut. Everyone said 21 mules couldn’t pull it. Our 21 walked away with the plows set deep as they would go.
The newly restored Dufur Threshing Bee binder was set up for a three abreast. Mike and Mac McIntosh wanted to pull this little five footer with two of their Belgians and needed to convert that hitch to a doubletree setup. The factory tongue truck was shifted to receive a doubletree dead center. The side draft bracketing was swung back closer to center. That strap on top would function like a hammer-strap.
What I have come to call the “triple tree trainer” is simply using a three abreast hitch to bring mules along slow and deliberate to train them to pull triple, double and single. I am certain that I am not the first to use this device as a training method. I first saw a tongue designed similar to this hooked to a restored fire engine at the Mule Day’s parade in California. It was then, as I studied the hitch, it occurred to me that it would be very useful in helping me overcome some difficulties in training mules to the tongue and to shafts.