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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.