Our Draft Horses – The Care and Keeping of Our Happy Herd

How We Keep Our Draft Horses Emotionally and Physically Healthy

At Tally-To Carriage Tours, our herd of gorgeous horses are the heart of our success as a wholesome tourism company. Bred to work, our horses thrive on the company and interaction they receive, which is evident in their friendly, laid-back dispositions. The horses are viewed as partners and as members of our family, and everyone who works with them is committed to ensuring they’re in the best of health. This means they receive the best training, are mentally healthy and happy and are bonded with their drivers and trainers. We love our horses and they love us right back.

The History of the Draft Horse

Breeds like Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons and Shire horses are known as Draft (or Draught) Horses. Born and bred from a long lineage of working horses, these guys are docile, confident and they love to work. A draft horse can very easily pull vehicles that are six times their weight while only using about 20% of their full strength.

Originating from ancient warhorses, their reputation as gentle giants has made draft horses the top choice for providing transportation and doing farm work for centuries. This long partnership has also led to innate trust among horses and their people. It’s been found that Draft horses that do not have a purpose or a specific role to fulfill exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety. These guys are social animals and they also love to have a dependable routine.  At Tally-Ho, our herd of sixteen draft horses consists of Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons, Shires and a Suffolk Punch: all happy, calm horses that thrive on having a job to do.

The Tally-Ho Horses at Work

At Tally-Ho, our trusted drivers and trainer provide our horse companions with the very best tools they need to be able to do their job safely and well. Every horse is given a frequent health check and watched closely for any sign of illness or fatigue. Just like humans, if a horse is not up to a shift of pulling carriages, they are not expected to work. The care team is trained to be able to easily tell if a horse is not feeling their best. This could be indicated by posture and signs of stress or agitation. All horses have easy access to food and water and are carefully monitored during inclement or hot weather.

Pre-Shift Check

At the beginning of every shift, our horses are fed and groomed before being transported to downtown Victoria. Both horse and carriage are thoroughly checked over with a pre-trip check to make sure the horse is in good spirits and mentally / physically ready for the shift. Taking this time to connect with our horses creates a bond that lasts throughout the shift. This bonding time also helps the horse to feel even more calm and sociable towards guests.

Communicating with the Horses

Because humans and draft horses have been working side by side for over 6,000 years, our drivers and horses feel at home with one another. Each horse knows his or her name and forms a special bond with their co-worker (driver) and can be easily guided by hearing their name followed by a standard command. For example, to go faster, the horse must hear their name, e.g. “Sarge” then the command, e.g.  “step up” after a pause. This creates clear communication between horse and driver, maintaining a calm and relaxed environment. The same vocabulary is used for all the horses to prevent any confusion or misunderstanding.

Our horses trust their co-workers implicitly and can only be touched by guests when and if the horse is relaxed and open to the interaction. Because draft horses are so friendly, this is rarely an issue. Horses do get treats from the public from time to time. If the driver allows it and it’s safe for that particular horse to eat, they get to enjoy it for “dessert.”

To keep the job light and breezy, we also have the horses walk, rather than trot. Constant trotting can create a lot of wear and tear on a horses’ joints. The goal is to be as gentle and kind to our horses as we can be, both at work and at home.

The Horses at Home

Our happy horses have a short commute of 25 minutes to and from Hidden Acres Farm before and after every shift. There, they enjoy a lush pasture and complete privacy in their horse paddock with their herd of humans, cats, dogs, ponies and our retired carriage horses. The horses love to play and they are positively spoiled by their trainers and caregivers. At the end of their shift, they’re immediately brought home to their relaxed and private farm for treats, social time, and a well-deserved rest.

The Horse’s Diet and Nutrition

draft horses the care and keeping of our happy herd

Draft horses weigh a ton (about 1800 pounds on average) and eat a ton too. In a single year, our herd of working horses eat 400 tons of a specially created high-quality feed. This consists of haylage crop plus 36,000 pounds of supplementary grains. The supplements are designed by feed specialists to be tailored to each horse’s individual nutritional needs. The supplements given to each horse varies by age, body weight, workload and physical condition. They’re also given gallons of clean water around the clock, to ensure proper hydration.

The Horses’ Veterinary Care and Hoof Care

The Tally-Ho horses receive personalized care that goes far beyond basic horse care. Our horses have an entire team of specialists tending to their every health need. They receive routine treatments like deworming and shots. A veterinarian closely monitors each horse’s individual requirements, body condition score and any weight loss or changes. Any specific needs are tended to immediately. The herd also receives specialized dental care, as well as adjustments by equine chiropractors and treatments by equine massage therapists. The horses sometimes like to snooze during these treatments, which are designed to ensure optimal muscle and joint health, but the horses regard it as more of a spa experience. 

As any equestrian or horse owner knows, a horse’s hooves must be kept in tip-top shape. Farriers visit weekly and by appointment to provide pedicures to the herd, where each horse is carefully examined for hoof health. This includes providing custom-made shoes for each horse, checking for proper gait and balance to ensure long-lasting joint and muscle health. Above all, we work hard to ensure that the horses are happy and comfortable in their shoes.

The Horse’s Retirement

The Tally-Ho draft horses in our herd range from 9 to the mid-twenties (the normal lifespan for draft horses). Our horses retire generally between the ages of 19 and 25, depending on their physical and mental conditions. After retirement, our senior horses enjoy many happy years as beloved pets on Hidden Acres Farm, with many living well into their thirties due to the gentle nature of the work they perform and their overall care.

How You Can Help Take Care of the Tally-Ho Horses

The Covid-19 pandemic has had quite the effect on the tourism industry. Having to shut down and reduce tour hours has meant a dramatic decrease in funding for the care and keeping of our beautiful horses. To help ensure that the horses continue to get all the spa treatments and specialized diets they require to be happy and healthy, you can now sponsor a horse of your choice. 

To sponsor a horse, just choose your favourite, choose a package and know that your generous contribution will go to ensuring that the Tally-Ho horses receive all the veterinarian care, shelter, food and tools they need.

Proper care and keeping of our horses is essential for providing the best experience with Tally-Ho Carriage Tours. After all, our equine friends are the stars of the show. Serving downtown Victoria for over 115 years, and now serving the Saanich Peninsula, we welcome you to join us for an old-fashioned horse and carriage tour. 

This summer, we’re offering our exclusive Tally-Ho and Sea Cider Picnic experience, a beautiful countryside carriage tour through Central Saanich, complemented with a delectable picnic lunch, organic coffee and a tasting of award-winning, organic ciders. We have also created our new Tally-Ho Farm Tour, providing guests an exclusive opportunity to meet the horses up close and learn about their daily care.  Reservations for all tours are recommended. Contact us by phone or email to book your tour today!

 

The Tally-Ho and Sea Cider Picnic Experience

Enjoy a Private Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride and Gourmet Picnic in the Heart of Rural Saanichton

The Tally-Ho and Sea Cider Picnic Experience is designed to awaken all your senses. Escape the city and turn back time with a relaxed afternoon exploring the very best of the Saanich Peninsula. Available for a limited time only (April to late September) this unique open-air horse-drawn carriage ride is presented by Tally-Ho Carriage Tours and features delectable treats from Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse, Fresh Cup Roastery Café and Truffles Catering.

Whether you’re planning a romantic date, an afternoon with your closest friends, or a family outing, this private horse-drawn carriage ride and picnic is a quiet sightseeing alternative that tops any gift list.

 “It was a once in a lifetime experience. If you’ve never done it, try this one out. It was a lovely, lovely time.

-Janice C. Tripadvisor

fresh cup roastery cafe coffee

During this unforgettable weekend tour, you’ll take in the endless fields and ocean views of Central Saanich. Your handsome horse will lead your open-air carriage through the pastoral countryside as your professional, fun-loving tour guide educates you on the rich history of the area. 

Sink into the plush seats of your carriage as you sip a freshly roasted coffee from Fresh Cup Roastery Cafe (If coffee isn’t your first choice, you can easily select another beverage). Fresh Cup uses only farmer-direct organic beans and their in-house roasting process ensures only the best quality cup of coffee possible. Along with the cider, picnic and the company, our guests have raved about Fresh Cup’s delicious coffee selection.

Lunch at Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse

After the first segment of your private carriage tour, you’ll arrive at Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse. Stretch your legs as you’re shown to your picnic table and get ready for a scrumptious tasting and gourmet lunch. There, you’ll enjoy awe-inspiring views of the Sea Cider organic apple and fruit tree orchard, as well as the sweeping Pacific Ocean. Also a beloved wedding venue, Sea Cider provides a stunning backdrop for your afternoon out.

Sea Cider farm and ciderhouse

“We were fortunate enough to have a beautiful sunny day and the luxury of a Tally-Ho carriage ride to Sea Cider, where we sat in the sun and enjoyed a tasting and a delicious picnic lunch. It was a perfect moment out of time and so lovely to slow down and enjoy the views with the background sounds of hooves. I felt safe and the Covid protocols were excellent. I hope Tally-Ho continues to think out of the box and offer these kinds of excursions next year.”

Denise T- Tripadvisor

Your service will present you with a tasting flight of six of the most popular cider flavours. When you (inevitably!) discover a favourite cider, you can take advantage of an exclusive 20% discount on Sea Cider products of your choice to enjoy later.

In business since 2007, Sea Cider has developed quite a following across North America. Today Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse produces over 7,000 cases of traditional (and award-winning!) organic artisan ciders.

Sea Cider’s products are created as an homage to a creative blend of history and politics. As an example, newest in the collection is Temperance Bonnie – a non-alcoholic blend of organic apples and blackberries, inspired by Dr. Bonnie Henry. 

From Sea Cider: “Our Temperance Series reminds us to find balance, and that wellness involves both self-care and caring for others. This approach is exemplified by Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s first female Provincial Health Officer.” Partial proceeds from this Temperance series cider supports Canadian wellness programs. 

The Tally-Ho Sea Cider Picnic Experience: Enjoy a Decadent Lunch from Truffles Catering Company

For lunch, you’ll receive a gourmet picnic box. This is no typical picnic. Thoughtfully curated by Truffles Catering, a local favourite in Victoria for over 30 years, your picnic box will include a locally sourced and freshly prepared lunch with the perfect balance of sweet and savoury elements.Tally-Ho and Truffles Catering picnic box

Our guests will have selected their picnic choice at check out, along with any notes on allergies. Due to the farm-to-plate nature of the menu selections, the picnic menu is subject to change, but Tally-Ho Carriage Tours and Truffles Catering work hard to ensure a delicious meal that delights all your senses. 

From Rossdown Farms chicken and bacon jam pinwheels, to tomato coriander salad and delectable cranberry-marzipan scone served with rich Devonshire cream and local honey for dessert (see our complete menu to make your selections,) we take great pride in the quality of meals accompanying our horse-drawn carriage tour experience.

Ending Your Tally-Ho Carriage Ride

For the final leg of your tranquil ride, sit back and bask in the sunshine as your carriage gently rolls through the scenic fields of Longview Farm. As the largest certified organic farm on Vancouver Island, the pastoral views are breathtaking and complemented with the stunning ocean views and historical sights that South Vancouver Island is known for. 

tally ho sea cider tour - group of four-min

“The whole experience was so relaxing we didn’t want it to end. What a great idea, during these times, to offer such a tour. It was lovely going through the farming areas, as well as residential, and some ocean views thrown in there just to make the day perfect. I highly recommend this tour! I will be doing it again!

– Merle B, Tripadvisor

The Tally-Ho and Sea Cider Picnic Experience is an excursion we’re very proud to offer. As a Victoria horse-drawn carriage tour operator for 118 years, we know you’ll absolutely love your journey with us. Whether you’re planning for romance or good old-fashioned family fun, our beautiful horses and knowledgeable guides will make your experience unforgettable! Located in downtown Victoria, and now Central Saanich, BC, we offer a variety of tour options, from short and sweet to longer custom tours designed for your anniversary, wedding or corporate function. Email or call toll-free at 1-866-383-5067 to reserve your carriage ride or inquire about prices for custom carriage tours.

Farrier Fridays – Trimming

This week in our Farrier Friday instalment, featuring Major and Trace, we check out the first steps in the shoeing process, removing the old shoe and trimming the foot. Will tells us what they are looking for when trimming the hoof and we get a look at Majors ENORMOUS size 12 shoe!

 

Horses and Bits

What is a bit? A bit is the component of a horses tack that connects with their mouths. In addition to verbal direction the bit works in combination with the bridle and reins and allows the driver/rider to communicate with their horse letting them know which way to go, when to slow down and when to stop.

We closely monitor which bit is most comfortable and appropriate for each horse: horses will move towards softer settings as they develop their skills and confidence.  The concept is that by respecting the horses’ mouths we will help create more sensitivity to the bit, and reward that progress by using a milder bit.  This helps ensure that in the event of an emergency it does not take excessive force on the bit to try to apply your horse’s “brakes”.

All of our horses here at Tallyho go through extensive training that allows for the use of minimal pressure being used by drivers which keeps both horse and driver happy. Below is a video of Sarge, one of our Clydesdales ready and waiting to receive his bit and get out the gates to his adoring fans! If you watch closely, you will see that Sarge lowers his head and opens his mouth before his bridle even gets to him.

Horses and Heat

Victoria has an ideal climate for carriage horses. According to the City of Victoria, we have “a very low humidity ratio and almost constant offshore breezes which keep summer days from becoming too hot”.

Tally-Ho’s sightseeing stand is ideally located next to the inner harbour, where the breezes can reach us, and where the horses are provided shade from boulevard trees during the hottest parts of the day. In the hotter summer months, horses are given daily electrolytes and offered soaked feed to ensure they are optimizing their hydration. We make sure they always have access to water, give them frequent rests between tours and we also give cold water hosings to make sure they are keeping cool as cucumbers!

But doesn’t the pavement burn there feet!? No, horses do not have nerve endings or blood supply on the bottom of their hoofs. This is why they are able to have their hoofs picked and shoed without any pain. In addition all of our horses have shoes on, which adds an extra layer of elevation from the pavement.

They do not tend to suffer from muscle or heat stress due to the light work they perform (only using about 20% of their actual pulling capacity, and keeping to a walk). Tally-Ho has never had a horse suffer from heat stress.

However, despite all these favourable conditions all of our staff here at Tally-Ho are all trained in recognizing any possible signs of heat stress and how to properly respond. Signs of heat stress can include:

  • Restlessness, lethargy or depression
  • A heart rate of 80 or more that does not return to normal after several minutes of rest
  • An erratic heart beat
  • A respiratory rate of 30 or more that does not return to normal after several minutes of rest
  • Sweating that is either excessive or ceases altogether
  • Body temperature in excess of 103 °Fahrenheit that does not decrease with several minutes of rest
  • Excessive salivation or redness of the tongue and mouth area
  • Muscle spasms, stumbling gait or collapse

Horses have natural, built in heat-reduction capabilities. “As the body temperature climbs and adrenaline levels increase, sweat glands respond by producing a hypertonic (highly concentrated) salt solution that coats the hair. Under normal circumstances horses cool by evaporative cooling and convection. The movement of air over their body is paramount to both of these mechanisms.

  •  Evaporative cooling: The sweat coats the hairs and as air flows over them it pulls the moisture and the heat off the horse.
  • Convection: Blood vessels near the skin dilate and allow the transfer of heat from the blood into the air.

Once their body temperature reaches greater than 42C, the respiratory system kicks in to help “blow off” some of the extra body heat (approximately 15% of the body heat can be dissipated via respiration).”1

The most common measure used to indicate when caution should be used in working a horse is the Horse Heat Index which all staff members are also trained to reference.

Farrier Friday

Happy Friday everyone!

Here on our blog we will be doing a new feature over the next few Fridays called Farrier Friday. These posts will talk a bit about foot care, proper fitting shoes, and answer questions like “does shoeing hurt the horse?”, we’ll even show you the massive size difference between the foot size of saddle horse vs draft horses! Accompanying our posts are videos featuring our amazing Farriers, Will Clinging and Rowan.

If you’ve ever seen a horse being shod you might wonder “doesn’t it hurt the horse?!”, in today’s video Will answers that age-old question while trimming up the foot of our pal Sampson.

 

 

To learn more about how we came to work with Will and a bit more about him, check out our previous post linked below.

https://www.tallyhotours.com/success-story-hoof-care

As the Snow Falls…

Here in beautiful Victoria, BC, we see snow about once a year.  Being on the West Coast our snow is often heavy, wet, and becomes icy quickly. 

As snow falls, Hidden Acres Farm becomes a winter wonderland.  A gorgeous scene with snow-covered trees, Tally-Ho’s majestic draft horses munching happily on their hay, and dogs running wild while creating snow trails.  We keep this peacefulness in mind as we work around the clock to maintain the herd’s health in cold weather. 

While draft horses are able to withstand cold better than lighter breeds (they have a “lower relative body surface area per unit of weightʺ[1]), the majority of Tally-Ho’s horses are blanketed to provide a bit more energy conservation; and our older horses are set up to lounge in the shelter of the barn.  The above photo shows a few of our horses (Titan, Tony and Max) that are not outfitted in blankets.  Simply put: these boys love to shred blankets!  If a horse destroys every blanket we put on them, eventually our logical brains catch up and we realize this will become a daily game for them.  Instead, these horses naturally develop their own warm, woolly winter coats.  Our 30+ years of experience consistently shows that the horses will always choose their natural environment over our human-created methods, preferring to be with their herd-mates in the open air, despite cold weather.

On the farm, our amazing our team of people work in the freezing temperatures to ensure the horses are cared for!  It is important that the herd continue to have free-choice, high quality feed; receive their daily grain supplements; and have access to water.  The reality: pipes freeze, water troughs freeze over; machinery ices over; tree branches lean or fall on fence lines; etc.  It’s almost comical to watch us humans bumbling around the farm shuttling hundreds of buckets of water, losing our footing around as we put out grain, and creatively finding ways to de-ice, well, everything. 

During snowy conditions in Victoria we keep safety as a top priority and purposefully halt all downtown carriage operations.  Extreme cold can be hard on the horsesˊ lungs when they are working; and our roads become dangerous.  Not only do we not want to risk trucking the horses into town, we don’t want to risk their (or the public’s) safety around vehicles that could be slipping on our streets. 

As the snow falls, enjoy the serenity, and while you are out braving the elements to ensure your animals are safe and happy, remember…

“To love a great horse is to touch something beyond words.ʺ

-Samuel Riddle
(owner of the great Man o’ War and Triple Crown winner, War Admiral)


[1]   http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/info-coldweather-man.htm

Tally Ho’s Horse Development Program – Part 3: Downtown

For a horse’s first day downtown, we pick a quiet evening when there is not much going on in town, and we go for a short drive through the James Bay residential area and/or Beacon Hill Park.  Over the next few days, we will bring the horse out for gradually longer periods of time, still sticking to the quieter parts of town, and avoiding busy intersections.  We start bringing the horse to the carriage stand on Menzies St., where he will see his buddies hanging out, and start to learn that that is “home base”.  He will start getting accustomed to seeing his buddies around town, and learn that at the end of the day, they all return home together again.

All of this work is done with two people on board the carriage – the driver, and a “footer”.  There will only be one driver of a new horse to ensure that a strong partnership develops: this ensures the driver can quickly identify changes in the horse’s behavior, and provides the horse maximum consistency in what is asked of him.  The footer’s job is to be ready to jump down and lead the horse if he gets confused or nervous, although most of the time, the footer just gets to come along for the ride!  If you happen to see us working with a new horse in town, you will likely notice the footer riding on the running board of the carriage, beside the passenger seats.  This position allows the footer to be able to step down very easily and get to the horse’s head if needed, and also allows the driver to take up the entire box seat, saving the footer from taking an accidental elbow to the ribs!

As the horse becomes comfortable with the routine in town, we will start taking guests on tours.  We still have two staff on the carriage, and now, the footer’s job is to give the guests the tour, so that the driver can focus entirely on the horse.  We continue in this way for a week or two, until the driver feels comfortable doing everything herself.  The time this takes is different for every horse, but as a driver, you know when the time is right.

At this point, the horse has passed the beginning stages of the training program and is considered a Novice carriage horse.  He remains restricted to working in select areas, and we will carefully schedule what days and times the horse works, according to what else is going on in town. The horse’s training continues both at the farm and in town, as we continue to build his confidence of new situations.

It’s all about building up confidence and setting the horse up for success.  Time and miles are the best teachers of all, and it is always a joy to watch new horses get the hang of things, and come to really enjoy their new career!

Tally Ho’s Horse Development Program – Part 2: Foundational Skills

Our goal is to develop our equine partnerships so that the rewards from the connection are equal to both humans and horses.  When we consider the horse’s point of view first, we then know the best way to present our idea.  When are able to communicate within their world, we are able to build deeper, more meaningful and trusting relationships.  The better our horsemanship is, the deeper our communication becomes, and the more we honour our horses.  Our horse development program is grounded in this philosophy, and we work systematically through each stage, building upon each success.

Work in hand (walking beside the horse), allows us to get very picky about the horse’s posture and movement, ensuring that he is using his body correctly so that he is not at risk of injury down the road.  We will also guide the horse over and around many different obstacles such as poles on the ground and barrels; weave through cones; walk over tarps and plywood; etc.  This helps him to become very aware of where his feet are (they’re a long way from his head, after all!) and become very intentional in where he is stepping, become confident stepping on different surfaces, and further develop his balance and coordination.

Working on the lunge line has the horse on a much longer line, moving in a circle around us.  In this way, we are able to practice our voice commands to ensure that the horse understands the verbal cues that we will be using from the carriage.  We practice moving between the walk, trot, and halt, looking for good quality of movement in each gait, and clean transitions between gaits.  We want the horse to be extremely responsive to our voice, as this is the primary way in which we communicate from the carriage.  It is especially important that when we say “WHOA,” the horse comes to an immediate stop, and stays stopped until we ask him otherwise.  Brake check!

We also spend a lot of time handling the horse all over, making sure that he is comfortable being touched on all parts of his body, that he holds his feet up nicely for the farrier, and that he accepts things like baths and haircuts as part of his normal routine.

The other major part of our foundation work is desensitizing.  We introduce the horse to all kinds of sights, sounds, and sensations, to develop his confidence and trust and ensure that he is not likely to spook at some of the strange things he might encounter downtown.  This work includes touching his body with soft ropes, flags, and flapping tarps; exposing him to loud noises and sudden movements; and anything else we can come up with to convince him that humans are indeed strange creatures, who do very odd things on a regular basis, but mean him no harm!  This video shows Roy learning to navigate obstacles without Brianna’s assistance (he’s willingly following her).

Once we are satisfied that the horse has a solid foundation, then we begin to work him in harness.  We start by simply ground driving, where he is fully harnessed not hooked to anything, we just walk along behind him.  We repeat many of the same obstacles and such that we did in his earlier training, and ensure that he is responding to our voice commands correctly and walking confidently without being able to see us.  You can see Roy’s progress in this video.  Then we progress to hooking to different implements such as harrows or logs to practice our precision.  This is also where we start getting the horse more physically fit.

Next, we move to a 2-wheeled cart, and then the 4-wheeled carriage.  We start by driving the vehicle in the our working ring, and then we start to tour the neighbourhood.  We are fortunate to be situated in an ideal area for horse training, where we have some very quiet country roads around the farm that see very little traffic, but we are also close to a couple different communities where we can practice navigating through stop signs, traffic lights, and increasingly busy traffic.  We gradually move onto busier roads, allowing time for the horse to become accustomed to pedestrians, bicycles, buses, trucks, motorcycles, construction zones, and all the different sights and sounds that come with city life.  Ultimately, we work up to driving through the industrial park, always busy with big trucks, and make a left hand turn that has us in the centre lane with two lanes of traffic on either side of us.  When the horse can navigate this demand confidently, we know that he is ready to come downtown (discussed further in Part 3).

 

Tally Ho’s Horse Development Program – Part 1: New Horses to Love!

When you see our horses working downtown, you see horses that are relaxed, confident, and know their job so well they could probably complete the route in their sleep.  Have you ever wondered where they came from, or how they learned to do their job so well?

Our horses come to us from all over Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest.  They come from varied backgrounds, but all of them are experienced driving horses.  Many come from a farming background, particularly from Northern BC and Alberta, where draft horses are still heavily relied on to get work done around the farm.  Some have been show horses, competing at local fairs and larger exhibitions such as the PNE and the Calgary Stampede.  Some have done some commercial work already, working in smaller towns or doing private events and parades.

When a new horse arrives on our farm, it will be at least a couple months, and in some cases up to a year before they actually come downtown.  No matter where they have come from, they enter into our industry-leading horse development program, where they must successfully pass several levels of training to ensure that they have all of the skills and knowledge necessary to work downtown with ease, confidence, and enjoyment.

Despite their previous experience, when we begin working with a new horse, we assume that they know nothing and start from the very beginning: this allows us to carefully assess what they do know, and fill in any and all gaps along the way.  It also ensures that they have a very solid foundation, and also allows us to develop a trusting relationship with them which is a key factor for success downtown.

The foundation work is all done from the ground, and includes a number of different activities, each intended to develop certain skills.  We then move into driving, and gradually introduce the horse to the different sights and sounds he will encounter downtown.  Developing the horse’s foundational skills is discussed in Part 2.