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:
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
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Clean hooves
- Dry the horse
- Sponge bath
- Hand rub
- Curry comb to remove sweat and dirt
- Use a wisp to massage and relax muscles
- Polish with rubber
- 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.
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:
- Horses sleep standing up.
- Horses have an average sleep time of 3 hours per day.
- Horses may also sleep lying down; however, they can become stuck, requiring careful handling.
- When space is limited to lie down, horses higher in the hierarchy will assert their privilege.
- Insecure horses may need a companion to sleep.
- 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.