Carriage Horse Retirement – What Happens to a Tally-Ho Horse When It Retires?

Retired Horses Can Live a Long, Happy and Healthy Life

Our carriage horses are part of our family at Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, and that doesn’t stop when they get too old to work. Our retired horses continue to live out their lives with the family they know and love, both equine and human, at our Hidden Acres farm in Saanich, BC.

Of course, just like humans, when working horses retire, their lifestyle and needs change, and we pride ourselves in ensuring our older horses get the right care to keep them healthy in their golden years.

At Tally-Ho, we guarantee our horses a happy and healthy retirement by offering them the care and lifestyle they need. Read on to find out more about our retired draft horses, the special needs of a retired horse and how our retired horses live out their days.

When Do Tally-Ho Horses Retire?

Retirement age is different for every horse and depends on several factors, including their health and their physical and mental condition. Generally, our horses are retired at between 19 and 25 years of age.

We currently have four retired horses in our pack:

  • Delilah, Suffolk Punch / Belgian mare – Age 23 (born 2000). 
  • Kashe, Clydesdale gelding – Age 21 (born 2002). 
  • King, Percheron gelding – Age 24 (born 1999). 
  • Sarge, Clydesdale gelding – Age 21 (born 2002). 

While draft horses usually have an expected life span of up to 25 years, our Tally-Ho horses often live into their mid-30s thanks to their healthy working lifestyle, so we could be looking after them for anything up to 15 years of retirement. 

It is important to us that those well-earned years of rest are happy, healthy and stimulating for our equine family members.

What Does Horse Retirement Look Like at Tally-Ho?

The daily life of a retired horse on our Hidden Acres farm is one of relaxation and choice. Our horses have the option to wander the fields alongside their equine family members, seek shelter in our open barn or interact with their human friends.

Every day a team member checks in on each horse and gives them some company and mental stimulation with a game or a gentle walk.  

Our retired horses continue to contribute to life on the farm by helping to train our new staff via our training and development program. They also help to welcome new horses into our family, taking them under their wing and showing them the ropes of life at Hidden Acre farm.

Do Retired Horses Need Special Care?

At Tally-Ho, we offer our horses the best care and living conditions throughout their life with us. However, the needs of a retired horse are a little different from a working horse, so we ensure we provide personalized care depending on each horse’s requirements.

The needs of a retired carriage horse include:

Social interaction: Horses are very social creatures. A working horse is in a stimulating environment every day, seeing new sights and sounds and interacting with people and other animals. For that to suddenly stop when a horse retires could lead to depression.

At Tally-Ho, our retired horses are still part of the pack, they are free to interact with other horses all day, and they get lots of time with their human family members too. Retired Tally-Ho horses also get to be the stars of the show at our Farm Tours, where they love to meet new people.

Movement: Although they are no longer pulling carriages, it’s important that retired horses continue to get frequent light exercise to retain muscle tone, bone strength and heart health. Movement also helps them regulate body temperature, especially in colder weather. Our horses are free to walk or trot around the paddock all day, current and retired carriage drivers come to the farm to walk and interact with their favourite horses, and we also integrate light trail rides.

Balanced nutrition: Older horses need to eat more frequently than younger ones to regulate their digestive system, and while they may not need quite as much food as their younger working counterparts, they do still require good quality, nutritious food. We ensure our retired horses are offered high-quality feed and plenty of water throughout the day. Most importantly, we ensure they have the time and space to eat, as they might take a little more time to eat as they age.

Mental stimulation: Our retired horses still need to stimulate their curious minds. With plenty of activity, toys and space to enjoy, a retired horse can remain happy and stimulated into older age.

Healthcare: Like humans, getting older can bring new health changes and challenges, but with consistent and appropriate health care, we can keep our horses healthy to live a longer-than-expected lifespan. At Tally-Ho, our retired horses get:

  • Regular veterinary checkups – to ensure health changes are caught quickly.
  • Dental checkups – older horses are more susceptible to dental issues, which, if left unattended, can impact their ability to eat.
  • Preventative care and vaccinations – to protect from illness and disease.
  • Hoof care – to enable them to continue appropriate levels of activity.

A Happy, Healthy Retirement for Tally-Ho Horses

After their working years are done, we think our draft horses deserve a long, happy and healthy retirement. Thanks to a healthy lifestyle and steady, low-impact exercise during their carriage-pulling careers, our draft horses enter retirement with healthy bodies and minds.

At Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, we respect and love our horses and we make it our life’s work to lead by example in the way working carriage horses live their lives and experience retirement.

Come and see for yourself how we care for our horses at Hidden Acres farm on one of our Behind the Scenes tours. Choose from our farm tour, where you find out all about life on our farm, or opt for the ‘Grass Roots Experience’, where you get to meet and interact with some of our retired horses in a hands-on tour.

Please contact us if you’d like to know more about our tours, opportunities for private bookings or if you have any questions. The human team at Tally-Ho loves to talk about our horse family and what we do, and we’re happy to tell you more!


Managing Carriage Horses in Extreme Weather

How Tally-Ho Cares for Our Horses When it is Very Cold, Hot or Smoky

At Tally-Ho, the care and well-being of our horses always come first, and that includes looking after them properly when we experience extreme weather conditions.

On the west coast of Canada, our extremes tend to be in terms of rainfall. However, we do occasionally experience cold snaps, and, more frequently, we are having summer heat waves combined with smoky skies due to forest fires.

Horses have a high natural capability to adjust to changes in temperature, especially gradual changes that occur seasonally. They can also adjust to more extreme temperature changes, but not immediately, which is why we ensure to offer them the care, facilities and nourishment they need while they adapt.

Tally-Ho staff are all well-trained in the key elements of horse care and signs of discomfort or distress, and we follow the advice of our Equine Specialist Veterinarian during any extreme weather conditions. 

Read on for more information about how we care for our horses during extreme heat, when the air is smoky and in wintery conditions.

Keeping our Horses Cool When the Temperature Heats Up

Victoria, BC’s low humidity ratio and cooling offshore breezes are ideal for working horses as they prevent overheating. However, we do get occasional extreme spikes that push up our usually manageable temperatures.

Horses have natural, built-in heat reduction capabilities, including evaporative cooling and convection. As their body temperature rises, sweat glands produce a highly concentrated salt solution that coats the hair and pulls moisture and heat off the horse as the air flows over them. Then, blood vessels near the skin will dilate to allow the transfer of heat from the blood into the air. Lastly, they can reduce their body temperature by 15% by changing the way they breathe. 

In extreme heat, horses do need our help to stay cool and prevent symptoms of heat stress. Our staff are fully trained to care for horses in hot weather and know how to recognize and deal with early signs of overheating.

Do our horses work when it is very hot outside?

Our horses can work in the heat, but we take great care to ensure our horses are safe when it is hot.  

For example, when temperatures are warmer, our working horses are provided:

  • Lots of water
  • Electrolytes (added to the water)
  • Soaked (damp) feed
  • Natural and man-made shade options

In addition, they are cold-hosed to help keep them cool; we monitor their internal body temperatures before, during and after work to ensure they remain within the normal range; and Tally-Ho’s sightseeing stand is ideally located next to Victoria’s inner harbour, where the breezes can reach us, and where the horses are provided shade from boulevard trees.  

Tally-Ho also follows the guidance of the commonly-used Horse Heat Index, which uses environmental temperatures and relative humidity to determine when the horse may need additional assistance to maintain a healthy internal body temperature. 

Tally-Ho uses all these measures to monitor and manage the horses’ health in summer heat waves.  During periods of abnormally high temperatures and/or humidity that could have an adverse health impact on the horses, tours are immediately cancelled, and horses remain at home on the farm. 

How Does Smoky Air Affect Horses?

It is becoming increasingly common to experience smoky skies during the summer months, even when wildfires are many miles away. Poor air quality due to smoke can affect a horse’s respiratory health in similar ways to how humans are affected, for example:

  • Eye irritation
  • Respiratory tract irritation
  • Cough
  • Nasal discharge
  • Laboured breathing 

Of course, while we can go inside to escape and use masks and air filters, these are not options for horses, so how do we help our herd cope when the sky is smoky? We:

  • Provide plenty of water to help keep the respiratory tract moist.
  • Allow our horses to move around to find a location where there is a breeze or the smoke is not as thick.
  • Limit or restrict their exercise – including carriage pulling work. At Tally Ho, we use the British Columbia Air Quality Health Index rating to guide our decisions. We will halt carriage rides if the air quality risk is high or above. 
  • Dampen the feed – soaking hay helps to reduce extra dust in the air.
  • Know the signs of horse respiratory distress and get additional help if required.

During periods of poor air quality, we follow the advice and direction of our Equine Specialist veterinarian as to if it is safe working conditions for the horses.

How do Horses Stay Warm in Cold and Snowy Conditions?

We might not get a lot of snow in Victoria, but what we get is heavy and can turn into slippery ice quickly. However, horses still love to be outside in nature, even when everything is white and frigid.

Horses naturally cope with cold weather through the creation and conservation of heat. They conserve heat through huddling, seeking shelter and growing longer,  thicker body hair. 

A horse can also generate energy from the food it eats. The right food in the right amounts can enable it to regulate even extreme temperatures. However, without enough high-quality food, a horse will start to lose weight and get sick.

During extremely cold weather spells, we help our horses adjust to the temperature change by ensuring they have:

  • 24-7 access to hay and plenty of vitamin and mineral grains and supplements that help boost weight gain and energy production
  • Lots of clean water (our automatic waterers are heat-taped to ensure they do not freeze over in cold conditions)
  • Blankets (every horse is provided a winter-weight blanket)
  • The option of covered shelter (although they rarely choose to use the shelters – instead opting for the ‘huddle’ – if you build it, it doesn’t mean they’ll use it!)

We continue to gently exercise and work our horses in cold weather, as using their muscles can help increase body heat. Our carriage-pulling horses always get plenty of rest, food, water and, if needed, blankets in between rides.

Our staff are trained to spot early signs of distress caused by cold weather and we will always cancel tours and keep the horses home if the weather does not provide appropriate working conditions.

Do Our Horses Pull Carriages in the Snow?

The safety of our horses is always paramount in our decision-making, as is that of our customers and staff. So, on the rare occasions there is snow on the ground in downtown Victoria we will not run carriage tours.

Snow and ice are risky for our horses as they do not wear shoes that would provide them traction (thereby increasing the chance of a slip and/or fall), and the risk of being struck by an out-of-control vehicle rises significantly. Not only are the risks of heading out on the roads too high but in the coldest conditions, horses do best when they reserve energy and eat lots of food. We’re happy to keep them safe, warm and well-fed on the farm until the snow melts.

What About Rain? 

Rain, as we west coasters know, can happen all year round. Horses’ hair acts as a natural rain protection as the oils encourage water to run off, keeping their core warm and dry. 

As with all weather conditions, the horses on our farm are free to seek natural (treed) or manmade shelter as they need it. During periods of continuous rain, the horses are blanketed.  

During the rainy season, our carriage drivers dress in layers and wear good quality rain gear, the carriages have roofs to help keep our guests dry, and the horses are provided rain blankets between tours to ensure their body temperatures don’t fluctuate too much.  In extremely wet conditions, we will cancel our tours as it’s simply no fun for the horses, carriage drivers or guests when they are cold and wet!  

Check Out Our Happy Horses for Yourself

Come see for yourself how our horses enjoy their life at Hidden Acres Farm on one of our Behind-the-Scenes tours. These guided tours allow you to meet our horses and hear from our staff about how we care for them in all conditions.

In addition to our farm tours, Tally-Ho Carriage Tours offers a variety of sightseeing tours that depart from Menzies Street just off Victoria’s inner harbour. Whether it’s a special occasion or you just want to see the city from a different perspective, we have a tour to suit your needs. For more information, contact us today.


Top 15 Things to Do in Victoria

What to Do, What to Eat and Where to Stay in Victoria

Victoria, Canada, is one of the most beautiful places in the world. With its stunning landscapes and incredible attractions, it’s no wonder that so many people are drawn to this charming city on Vancouver Island.

If you’re planning a visit, here’s a list of the top 15 things to do in Victoria that you won’t want to miss! From historic sites and outdoor activities to culinary delights and cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone.

So come explore all of what this amazing destination has to offer – you won’t regret it!

Things to Do in Victoria BC

Victoria is a city with an abundance of activities and attractions to suit all interests. From historic landmarks to outdoor adventures, here are five top things to do when visiting Victoria.

1: Visit the Butchart Gardens. This 55-acre botanical garden is one of Victoria’s most famous attractions, featuring a stunning collection of flowers, trees and shrubs, along with fountains, ponds and sculptures.

2: Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour with Tally-Ho Tours. Experience the charm of Victoria’s historic downtown in style with a guided tour by horse-drawn carriage. Tally Ho Tours offers a variety of carriage tours to suit every taste, including a Sea Cider picnic and holiday-themed tours.

3: Explore the Royal BC Museum. This museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history and culture of British Columbia, with a wide range of exhibits on topics ranging from First Nations history to natural history and modern pop culture.

4: Wander Through the Historic District of Old Town. Stroll along the cobblestone streets of Victoria’s oldest neighbourhood and admire the beautifully preserved Victorian-era architecture, quaint shops and charming cafes.

5: Go Whale Watching. Experience the thrill of seeing majestic whales up close in their natural habitat on a whale-watching tour. There are a number of companies offering tours right from Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Keep your eyes peeled when you’re on the water – you may also spot other marine wildlife, such as dolphins, seals and sea lions, along the way.

Where to Eat in Victoria

Victoria is known for its thriving culinary scene, with a wide variety of restaurants, cafes and food trucks offering delicious fare. Here are five must-try foods to sample when exploring the city’s vibrant food culture.

6: Try the seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf. This charming floating village is home to several seafood vendors serving up fresh seafood dishes, including fish and chips, crab cakes and seafood chowder.

7: Indulge in afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress. Experience a quintessential Victoria tradition with a luxurious afternoon tea service at the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel, featuring a selection of teas, finger sandwiches, scones and pastries.

8: Savour the artisanal cheeses at the Victoria Public Market. This bustling indoor market is home to several local cheese vendors, offering a wide selection of artisanal cheeses, charcuterie and other gourmet goodies.

9: Enjoy Victoria’s best ice cream. Stop at the Beacon Drive-In Restaurant for locals’ favourite cold treat, paired perfectly with a stroll through nearby Beacon Hill Park. 

10: Sample the craft beer at Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. This local brewery is known for its innovative and flavorful craft beers, including a variety of IPAs, stouts and seasonal brews, all made with locally sourced ingredients.

Where to Stay in Victoria

Victoria offers a range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference, from charming bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels. Here are five top places to stay when visiting Victoria for a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

11: The Fairmont Empress. This iconic hotel is a Victoria landmark, known for its luxurious rooms, impeccable service and stunning waterfront location.

12: The Hotel Grand Pacific. This impressive hotel offers a captivating blend of refined luxury, breathtaking harbour views, and unparalleled hospitality, creating an unforgettable stay that exceeds expectations.

13: The Oswego Hotel. This chic and modern hotel is located in the historic James Bay neighbourhood, just steps from Victoria’s Inner Harbour and downtown attractions.

14: The Inn at Laurel Point. This waterfront hotel features stunning views of the Inner Harbour, along with spacious rooms, a full-service spa and an award-winning restaurant.

15: The Parkside Hotel & Spa. This modern hotel is located just a few blocks from the harbour, offering spacious suites with full kitchens, a rooftop patio with a hot tub and a full-service spa.

Tally-Ho Tours – A “Must-Do” Activity!

Victoria, BC, is a city full of charm, culture and natural beauty, with something to offer for every type of traveller. One unforgettable way to explore Victoria is through a Tally-Ho carriage tour. With our charming horse-drawn carriages and knowledgeable guides, Tally-Ho Tours offers a glimpse into the city’s history and culture in a truly unique way. 

The tours are led by guides who share fascinating stories and interesting facts about Victoria’s past and present. You’ll learn about the city’s rich history, its famous residents and its hidden gems that might otherwise go unnoticed. The carriage ride itself is a delight, with the sound of the horse’s hooves providing a soothing rhythm as you glide through the streets.

Experience More Than Carriage Tours

Our goal is to educate and immerse the public in our incredible horses’ lives. 

Our “Grass Roots Horse Experience” tour at Tally-Ho offers an exceptional opportunity to experience much more than just carriage rides. Launched in Victoria as part of our 120th-anniversary celebrations, this experience focuses on the stars of our show, the horses!

This tour provides a rare glimpse into the daily lives of our horses, allowing visitors to interact with them up close and personal. Guests can also enjoy the serene and picturesque surroundings while learning about the history and heritage of these magnificent creatures. 

So, when planning your visit to Victoria, or if you already live here and want to try something truly spectacular and unique, book a Tally-Ho tour – you won’t regret it!


A History of How Work Horses Have Helped Humans Over the Ages

A History of Horses Timeline 

For many animal lovers, work horses are revered as the world’s most majestic creatures. In fact, the working horse has often been referred to as the most indispensable gentle giant in the history of human development. 

Throughout history, whether these work horses pulled armoured centurions around a battle arena or transported food to market, they did it with beauty and power.

Carriage horses are valued members of the team at Tally-Ho Carriage Tours. With many draft breeds facing extinction, Tally-Ho is committed to caring for and maintaining these work horse breeds. We treat them with the utmost care and comfort, and as a result, our horses live up to ten years longer than the average life expectancy of these breeds.

Read on to learn about the origin of horses and how “horse power” has transformed the way humans work and live together in so many incredible ways. 

History of Horses Timeline

As the Pleistocene (last ice age) period approached, massive glaciers isolated many horses. Over millions of years, these horses evolved distinct character traits that allowed them to survive in their environments.

Early horse migration occurred across the Bering Land Bridge, which allowed horses to spread from the Americas into Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The first heavy horse, the Black Horse of Flanders (considered the father of all modern draft horses), settled in Northern France and Belgium.

14th Century 

Working horses date back to the 14th century. The Middle Ages were when excelling in knighthood went hand in hand with horsemanship. When lightweight armour designed to protect knights and their brave steeds in battles and jousting tournaments became heavier, so did the horse required to carry it all. Historians claim many modern horses are descendants of the Destrier.

15th Century

The ancient wild horses that once populated the Americas drifted to extinction and were reintroduced by European colonists during the 15th and 16th centuries. Initially, small horses were imported due to shipping constraints. But eventually, draft horses also made the perilous journey across the open water.

16th Century

In the Ancient Near East, 16th century-advancements in the chariot and harness designs led to increased chariot warfare. During this period, the invention of the stirrup, horse collar and saddle revolutionized horsemanship, and soon mounted cavalry replaced the chariot.

17th Century

Although the Hackney was bred as a riding horse in England as early as the 14th century, it wasn’t until 1729 that it was coupled with an Arabian to produce the first heavy-built Norfolk Roadster. With the improvement of roads, the modern Hackney’s value rose as a high-stepping harness horse. But, by 1883, the breed’s decline began with the advent of the railroad.

18th Century

Battle cavalry was crucial for victory during the Napoleonic wars of the 18th century. Similarly, Indigenous people were trained in mounted warfare tactics in the Americas. As a result, they became part of highly mobile horse regiments essential in the American Civil War.

The Conestoga Horse and the Vermont Drafter were bred outside of the war in North America. These draft horses replaced oxen as farm machinery revolutionized. The smaller equipment size made horses more suitable than oxen. Heavy draft horses were also better suited to frozen winter roads and fields.

The use of draft horses peaked during America’s westward expansion and with agricultural technology improvements. It wasn’t uncommon to see giant combines pulled by teams of forty-plus draft horses. The average Midwestern wheat farm during this period had ten horses. It was also during the 1800s that improvements were made to the breeding, care and feeding of horses.

In 1849 gold fever swept through the United States. Local ponies from Indigenous people were initially used to carry supplies and haul gold and other minerals to the railway depots. As the gold rush progressed, ponies were replaced by draft horses. Massive quantities of charcoal were required for smelting, and draft horses hauled the logs to fuel the process.

Draft horse-powered mass transit allowed cities to expand. By the late 1800s, over 100,000 horses and mules operated as horse-car lines. During this time, businesses began advertising with decorated wagons powered by teams of draft horses that averaged 2000 pounds each. This was the beginning of the show era.

19th Century

Throughout the 19th century, westward migration exploded, fuelled by the promise of free land. In addition, virgin soil that required tilling increased the demand for draft horses that powered farm equipment. Over 27,000 Clydesdales, Suffolks, Shires, Percherons and Belgians were present in America at this time. 

Heavy horses were also instrumental in building railways. They carried ties, rails, supplies, and the ore and soil excavated from mountain tunnels. 

By the end of the 19th century, stagecoach lines with teams of six draft horses carried mail and passengers over rough and dangerous roads.

20th Century

In the 20th century, the role of horses in warfare changed. While scouts used horses for surveillance and draft horses were used to transport troops and supplies, cavalry horses were no longer needed for trench warfare.

Additionally, improvements in gasoline and electric-powered engines led to a swift decline in horse use. Horse-drawn hearses were one of the last modes of transportation to be modernized.

As the 1950s approached, many breeders went out of business, and the number of Shires and Suffolks dropped so low that by 1985 that they were listed as rare.

21st Century

Today the role of work horses in the military looks much different. Horses are mainly used for historical re-enactments, law enforcement and equestrian competitions. However, small mounted units may still patrol or provide reconnaissance.

Modern draft horses are making a comeback as pleasure animals. With registrations steadily rising, they can be found in show rings and competitions across North America.

The forestry service, therapeutic riding programs, sustainable agriculture, tourism and lessons are all industries where you might find heavy work horses used in the 21st century.

Tally-Ho Carriage Tours – Committed to The Horse!

See first-hand how Tally Ho’s working horse team is cared for on a behind-the-scenes tour experience at Hidden Acre Farms. Enjoy hands-on time with these rare large breeds and learn about their care, comfort, specialized equipment, training and human partnerships.

Our dedication to work horses, enthusiasm for people, service excellence and high safety standards date back to 1903 when Tally-Ho was established as Victoria’s first horse-drawn tourism service. 

We offer a variety of carriage tours throughout Victoria, BC and can even help you craft the custom horse-drawn experience of your dreams. Contact us for more information or to book a tour today.




A Day in the Life of a Tally-Ho Working Horse

How Work Horses Enjoy Daily Living 

There’s something magical about seeing majestic heavy draft horses in action. These historical working horse breeds have done many important jobs over the years and are still active to this day, although you are more likely to see them pulling a cart of sightseers than working the land.

If you’ve visited Victoria, BC, you may have seen Tally Ho Carriage’s draft horses pulling sightseeing carriages around the city, but have you ever wondered how they spend the rest of their day? 

At Tally-Ho, the care of our horses is taken seriously, and every equine partner is treated as family. Our horses’ health and well-being are paramount and reflected in how they spend their day. Mind, body and soul are nurtured on our acreage in Saanichton, ensuring the highest quality of life. 

Read on to learn what a typical day looks like for one of our equine team from horse grooming to how they get their horse rest. 

What is a Working Horse?

Does the image of a cowboy in a cowboy hat rustling cattle come to mind?  Well, work horses actually date back to the 14th century, and it is believed that many modern horses are descendants of the Destrier, a war horse from the middle-ages.

Horses have played significant roles beyond cattle rustling throughout history, for example, acting as police horses and companion animals. Before the invention of vehicles, horses were essential in some industries, such as driving plows or transporting goods or people.

Clydesdale, Suffolk, Shires, Percheron and Belgians are some of the most common breeds of heavy-working horses. At Tally-Ho, we consider our role in maintaining these breeds, many of which are threatened by extinction, an honour and a privilege.

What a Day in The Life of a Tally-Ho Working Horse Looks Like

When they are not working, our equine friends spend their time living the good life on our Hidden Acres Farm in Saanich. BC.  A typical day in the life of our working horses will involve:

Breakfast Time 

Not surprisingly, like their caretakers, horses start their day with breakfast. At Tally-Ho, a specially formulated haylage crop is the primary horse food. In addition, they receive supplementary grains formulated by equine nutritionists and customized based on their unique needs and body types.

Tally-Ho’s team of twenty-one working horses consume a staggering 400 round bales annually and over 36,000 pounds of supplements. 

Health and Hygiene

An essential part of maintaining horse health at Hidden Acres Farm is ensuring clean stalls and paddocks. 

Our entire team of professionals is devoted to caring for the horses, and their needs are always tended to immediately. Specialized dental and foot care, chiropractic adjustments and deep tissue oscillation therapy are just some treatments beyond basic horse care that we use at Tally Ho.

Grooming Before Work 

Caring for our working horse’s coat and feet are as critical as food and water. In addition, regular grooming decreases health conditions such as thrush and skin diseases. 

Consistent grooming establishes a positive, trusting relationship between the horse and the groomer. A list of the tools specific to grooming includes:

  • Dandy – horse brush
  • Body – horse brush
  • Hoof Picker
  • Cloth Sponge
  • Curry Comb
  • Water – horse brush
  • Wisp
  • Sweat Scraper
  • Shedding Blade


If our horses work that day, they are harnessed and outfitted as required. Behind the scenes, staff ensure the beautiful carriage horse tack is polished, clean, well-fitted and in top working order. 


A “pre-trip” inspection is done for each horse twice daily: once at the barn as the horse is taken from his paddock and again before the horse is hooked to a carriage. This key safety measure and horse health check is a trademark of Tally Ho’s commitment to the horse that sets them above and beyond other carriage companies.

Pre-trip involves:

  • A full body inspection of the horse to assess for any new scrapes or cuts
  • A soundness check
  • An emotional fitness check to ensure the horse is mentally ready for his day

If any of these checks fail, they treat the issue, reassess and determine if the horse is fit to work. He will remain on the farm if he’s not mentally and physically fit that day. 

Warm Up 

Before any work is started for the day, each horse is thoroughly warmed up and walked off. Exercise is part of our working horse’s typical day, even if it’s their day off. 

On the Job

Our horses are trucked from Hidden Acres Farm to downtown Victoria on working days. Two shifts per day operate during peak season with up to six carriages per shift. 

Pulling a carriage is a low-impact activity for our draft horses. They can easily pull a wheeled vehicle six times their weight, and because their health is monitored so diligently, our horses often live ten years longer than average.

As for any job, training is required for our heavy draft horses and their drivers. Taly-Ho’s horsemanship program, developed in partnership with leading industry experts, builds relationships based on trust between each horse and driver.

 Grooming After Work

After each shift, the horses are immediately unharnessed and groomed. This forms part of the “post-trip” inspection, where each horse is checked to ensure they are well after their day of work. Horses are also stretched out and provided time to cool down before being trucked home to enjoy well-earned rest. 

A good grooming routine brings many health benefits, such as increased circulation. A typical grooming routine includes: 

  1. Clean hooves 
  2. Dry the horse
  3. Sponge bath
  4. Hand rub
  5. Brush
  6. Curry comb to remove sweat and dirt
  7. Use a wisp to massage and relax muscles
  8. Polish with rubber
  9. Clean ears, eyes, nose and dock


At Tally-Ho, certified farriers visit weekly to provide pedicures, watch for changes in horse hooves and create special shoes that optimize support. The work of farriers is a significant component of the horses’ overall health at the farm. 

Dinner Time 

Balanced nutrition is vital; a large part of our horse’s diet consists of water. Draft horses drink a lot of water. Some require up to 91 litres daily. A fresh, clean and plentiful water supply is provided daily, both at the farm and while working.

Feeding the large team of carriage horses with body weights upwards of 1800 pounds takes up a large part of Tally-Ho’s operating budget.


To ensure each horse is comfortable while sleeping, adequate bedding, forage and a serene environment are provided. If it’s cold, our horses are rugged, confirming the blanket fits correctly and is comfortable and temperature specific.

Have you ever wondered how horses sleep? Read on for some interesting facts:

  1. Horses sleep standing up.
  2. Horses have an average sleep time of 3 hours per day.
  3. Horses may also sleep lying down; however, they can become stuck, requiring careful handling.
  4. When space is limited to lie down, horses higher in the hierarchy will assert their privilege.
  5. Insecure horses may need a companion to sleep.
  6. Horses dream.

What Character Traits Do Tally-Ho Horses Have in Common?

Tally-Ho’s carriage horses enjoy their work. They are chosen for their calm behaviour, ability to trust people and adaptability to new situations. We would never force a horse to work if it wasn’t happy.

You can meet the horses that make up our family at Hidden Acres Farms in Victoria, BC. 

Tally-Ho Carriage Tours – Uniquely Charming and Famously Fun

From weddings to city tours to corporate events, let Tally-Ho, Victoria’s original transportation company, make your occasion one to be remembered.

With outstanding service dating back to 1850, Tally-Ho Carriage Tours will help you craft the custom horse-drawn experience of your dreams. Contact us today for a quote.


A Day in the Life of a Horse Carriage Driver

What it Takes to Drive a Horse and Carriage

Maybe you’ve passed by a horse-drawn carriage on the busy streets of downtown Victoria, BC, or maybe you’ve watched a pair of horses with a fancy Landau, carrying a newly married bride and groom

Perhaps you’ve looked at the person perched at the front of the horse carriage and wondered what it takes to become a horse and carriage driver for a company like Tally Ho Carriage Tours.

Humans and horses have been working closely together since 6,000 BCE, so it’s no surprise that we’ve developed tried and true methods to communicate with our equine friends. A big part of becoming a carriage driver is learning these communication methods and learning mutual trust.

Keep reading to find out more about the role and duties of a horse-drawn carriage driver, the breeds of horses that usually pull carriages and the types of carriages that can be pulled.

How to Become a Horse Carriage Driver

When a new carriage driver joins the team at Tally Ho, they receive rigorous training to learn gentle communication skills as well as how to look after the carriage horses while they are working.

Aside from an obvious interest and experience with horses, you will need to have the following skills to become a successful horse carriage driver:

  • Excellent communication skills. A large part of the job involves talking with the public and your passengers.
  • The ability to follow the local laws governing horse carriage driving. Each municipality will have carriage-specific laws you will need to be familiar with.
  • The ability to handle a horse that is operating in a highly stimulating environment. Busy streets require a high degree of environmental and situational awareness. You need to be able to anticipate issues and support your horse if they become uncertain.
  • The ability to provide care for the horse during and after their shift. Your horse will require grooming, feeding and watering during their work hours. Tally Ho horses work short shifts after which they return to Hidden Acres Farm to relax and recover.
  • The ability to educate and inform people. Rarely does the general public have knowledge of how a carriage company operates. Acting as an ambassador, you will be expected to pass along the history of the company, how it develops the horse-human connections, its horse care practices and its ethics, values and culture.
  • Knowledge of the local tourist highlights and traffic concerns. This kind of local knowledge will not only improve your passengers’ experience but it will also help you navigate the streets easier.
  • The ability to pass a criminal record check. Not all carriage tour companies require this but being able to pass a criminal record check will go a long way toward helping you get hired.

A Day in the Life of a Tally Ho Carriage Driver

A typical shift for a carriage driver working for Tally Ho Tours in Victoria, BC may include:

  • Starting your shift by greeting, grooming and preparing the horse(s) and carriage for the day. This will include ensuring the horses have appropriate food and water while working; ensuring they are both physically and mentally fit for their workday; and checking all carriage driving equipment is in good condition and proper working order.
  • Guiding passengers on a variety of tours ranging from short city tours around the downtown core to longer tours that take in the beauty of Beacon Hill Park. Carriage drivers learn interesting anecdotes about the areas they tour around to share with guests.
  • Sometimes our drivers are lucky enough to be part of someone’s special day such as a babymoon, engagement or wedding celebration. 
  • Throughout any tour, drivers are alert to everything going on around them and continuously communicate with the horse(s) through words and the use of the lines and bit.
  • After tours, drivers ensure the horse receives water and food, and checks on all the tack to ensure the horse remains comfortable.

Common Types of Horse-Drawn Carriages

As a horse carriage driver, you may be asked to guide your horse(s) to pull a variety of carriages ranging from small 2-person carriages to ones that hold larger groups. The most common passenger-carrying horse carriages in use are:

The Landau. The Landau is a type of 4-wheeled luxury carriage, featuring a folded roof that can be raised or lowered as needed. This type can seat up to 6 passengers, with a low shell design that allows for easy entry and for the occupants to show off their finery.

The Phaeton. The Phaeton is essentially a lighter version of the Landau. It can be pulled by one or two horses and is designed to seat 2 passengers. Featuring 4 large wheels and a lightly sprung body, this faster carriage became popular among royalty during the Regency Era.

The Buggy. The buggy is a light, 2-wheeled carriage designed to carry up to 2 passengers. It features a foldable roof that can be raised or lowered as needed and was a popular mode of transportation from the 18th to the 20th centuries. 

The Stagecoach. Commonly seen now in western and other period movies, the stagecoach provides transport for up to 6 passengers in a closed cab that protects them from the elements. Stagecoaches are typically pulled by a team of 6 horses or more because of their heavy weight.

The Hackney Coach. The Hackney Coach is one of the oldest 4-wheeled designs. It is lighter than the stagecoach, yet still able to seat up to 6 passengers. The Hackney used to function in the same way as the modern taxicab, in that it was hired to transport people from one place to another.

The Best Horse Breeds for Horse-Drawn Carriages

Many different horse breeds have been bred expressly to pull carriages over the centuries. Draft horse breeds are ideal for pulling carriages because they were all bred to pull heavy weights. 

Draft horses can easily pull a wheeled vehicle that is 6 times its weight and most carriage horses are only expending less than 20% of their energy when pulling a wagon on a tour. 

At Tally Ho, we use draft horse breeds to pull our carriages including:

Tip: Find out more about how we train and care for our horses here.

A Carriage Driving Career with Tally Ho Tours

Do you have a lifelong passion for horses that you’d like to turn into a career? Tally Ho Tours is always on the lookout for people with a passion for horses and customer service to join the team. 

We provide extensive training to help our drivers learn to drive draft horses safely as well as develop a trust-based partnership with our horses. 

If you have experience with horses and would like to expand your skills, please email us your resume and a brief synopsis of your equine skills.