A horse-drawn vehicle is a mechanized piece of equipment pulled by one horse or by a team of horses. These vehicles typically had two or four wheels and were used to carry passengers and/or a load. They were once common worldwide, but they have mostly been replaced by automobiles and other forms of self-propelled transport.
Historically a wide variety of arrangements of horses and vehicles have been used, from chariot racing, which involved a small vehicle and four horses abreast, to horsecars or trollies,[note 1] which used two horses to pull a car that was used in cities before electric trams were developed.
A two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle is a cart (see various types below, both for carrying people and for goods). Four-wheeled vehicles have many names – one for heavy loads is most commonly called a wagon. Very light carts and wagons can also be pulled by donkeys (much smaller than horses), ponies or mules. Other smaller animals are occasionally used, such as large dogs, llamas and goats (see draught animals). Heavy wagons, carts and agricultural implements can also be pulled by other large draught animals such as oxen, water buffalo, yaks or even camels and elephants.
Vehicles pulled by one animal (or by animals in a single file) have two shafts which attach either side of the rearmost animal (the wheel animal or wheeler). Two animals in single file are referred to as a tandem arrangement, and three as a randem. Vehicles which are pulled by a pair (or by a team of several pairs) have a pole which attaches between the wheel pair. Other arrangements are also possible, for example, three or more abreast (a troika), a wheel pair with a single lead animal (a "unicorn"), or a wheel pair with three lead animals abreast (a "pickaxe"). Very heavy loads sometimes had an additional team behind to slow the vehicle down steep hills. Sometimes at a steep hill with frequent traffic, such a team would be hired to passing wagons to help them up or down the hill. Horse-drawn carriages have been in use for at least 3,500 years.
Two-wheeled vehicles are balanced by the distribution of weight of the load (driver, passengers, and goods) over the axle, and then held level by the animal – this means that the shafts (or sometimes a pole for two animals) must be fixed rigidly to the vehicle's body. Four-wheeled vehicles remain level on their own, and so the shafts or pole are hinged vertically, allowing them to rise and fall with the movement of the animals. A four-wheeled vehicle is also steered by the shafts or pole, which are attached to the front axle; this swivels on a turntable or "fifth wheel" beneath the vehicle.
Calash or Calèshe: see barouche: A four-wheeled, shallow vehicle with two double seats inside, arranged vis-à-vis, so that the sitters on the front seat faced those on the back seat.
Cape cart: A two-wheeled four-seater carriage drawn by two horses and formerly used in South Africa.
Cariole: A light, small, two- or four-wheeled vehicle, open or covered, drawn by a single horse.
Traveling in France or Le départ de la diligence Drawing by George Cruikshank (1818).
Carriage: in the late eighteenth century, roughly equivalent to the modern word "vehicle" [Walker]. It later came to be restricted to "passenger vehicle" and even to "private, enclosed passenger vehicle" [Britannica]. This last is the sense adopted by the linked article.
Carryall: A type of carriage used in the United States in the 19th century. It is a light, four-wheeled vehicle, usually drawn by a single horse and with seats for four or more passengers.
Chaise: A light two- or four-wheeled traveling or pleasure carriage, with a folding hood or calash top for one or two people.
Charabanc: A larger wagon pulled by multiple horses.
Clarence: A closed, four-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle with a projecting glass front and seats for four passengers inside.
Coach: A large, usually closed, four-wheeled carriage with two or more horses harnessed as a team, controlled by a coachman.
Coupé: The horse-drawn carriage equivalent of a modern coupe automobile.
Covered wagon: the name given to canvas-topped farm wagons used by North American settlers to move both their families and household goods westward. Varieties of this wagon include the Conestoga wagon (larger wagons able to carry large amounts of goods and primarily used on flat trails, for example the Santa Fe Trail) and prairie schooner (smaller wagons more suited for mountainous regions, for example the Oregon and California Trails).
Curricle: A smart, light two-wheeled chaise or "chariot", large enough for the driver and a passenger and usually drawn by a carefully matched pair of horses.
Diligence: a French stagecoach. The 19th-century ones came in three sizes, La petite diligence, La grande diligence and L'impériale.
A mid-19th-century engraving of a Phaeton, from a carriage-builder's catalogue
Post chaise: A fast carriage for traveling post in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Ralli car: a light two wheeled sprung cart (gig) with two forward-facing and two rear-facing seats back-to-back, and a sliding fore-and-aft seat adjustment to allow the vehicle to balance with different numbers of passengers.
Ratha: Ahe Indo-Iranian term for a spoked-wheel chariot or a cart of antiquity.
Rockaway: A term applied to two types of carriage: a light, low, United States four-wheel carriage with a fixed top and open sides that may be covered by waterproof curtains, and a heavy carriage enclosed at sides and rear, with a door on each side.
Tarantass or Tarantas: A Russian four-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle on a long longitudinal frame.
Tilbury: A light, open, two-wheeled carriage, with or without a top
Training cart or training trap: a simple sprung or unsprung two-person modern cart for training a harness horse on smooth roads. Often made of steel with motorcycle wheels, and sometimes with adjustable shafts for different-sized horses.
Trap: an open sprung cart. Often used in a general sense to cover any small passenger-carrying cart.
Troika: a sleigh drawn by three horses harnessed abreast. Occasionally, a similar wheeled vehicle.
Vardo (gypsy wagon): a vardo is a traditional horse-drawn wagon used by English Romani Gypsies.
Victoria: a one-horse carriage with a front-facing bench seat. The body was slung low, in front of the back axle. Driven by a servant.
Vis-à-vis: Refers to the seating arrangement, with a rear seat facing forward and the forward seat facing to the rear.
Dray: Particularly in Australia and New Zealand, an un-sprung cart. In Britain, even in the 18th century, the name came to be associated with brewers' deliveries so that the later vehicle that was more correctly called a trolley also came to be known as a brewer's dray. These are still seen at horse shows in Britain.
Also a sledge used for moving felled trees in the same way as the wheeled skidder. (See implements, below). It could be used in woodland, apparently with or without snow, but was useful on frozen lakes and waterways. [OED]
Float: A light, two-wheeled domestic delivery vehicle with the centre of its axle cranked downward to allow low-loading and easy access to the goods. It was used particularly for milk delivery.
Lorry: A low-loading platform body with four small wheels mounted underneath it. The driver's seat was mounted on the headboard.
Mail coach: A stagecoach primarily for the carriage of mail, though also carrying passengers.
Mophrey: An un-sprung cart which could be extended forwards with the addition of front wheels. It was used by small farmers as and when dense or bulky loads were to be carried (muck-spreading and harvest). An eastern English design.
Pantechnicon van: Originally, a van used by The Pantechnicon for delivering goods to its customers.
Prairie schooner: The name given years later to the canvas-topped farm wagons used by North American settlers to move their families and capital goods westward. See covered wagon and Conestoga wagon.
Travois: A very simple sledge used for moving relatively small loads, consisting of a pair of shafts dragging on the ground.
Trolley: Like a lorry, but with slightly larger wheels and slightly higher deck. The driver's seat was mounted on the headboard.
Trolley and lift van: A standardized trolley and a lift van, a standardized box, designed to fit each other or any other of the same sort. The lift van was the direct counterpart of the modern container in the materials and size appropriate to its time.
^The term horsecar is used primarily in the UK to refer to a rail-based vehicle drawn by horses. In the US, the term streetcar or trolley is used, but those same terms could refer to the electric versions as well.