Horses, like humans, need a few basic elements to be happy: appropriate food and water; shelter; health care; and social and mental stimulation. Tally-Ho has been providing amazing horses a fantastic home for 115 years. We’ve lost count as to how many horses have been part of our family, but could easily put it into the tens of thousands. Years ago, Tally-Ho had upwards of 60 horses in the herd (when heavy wagons were pulled by four horses). Today, we keep an average of 20 horses in our herd that work individually pulling light carriages.
We are always looking for more horses as it’s important that we have enough horses in the rotation to meet the ever-increasing demand for our services; while ensuring that no horse is working if it’s not physically and mentally fit to do so. Ideally, as one horse enters semi-retirement, we’re starting a new horse who will take his place.
Tally-Ho only uses heavy, or draft, horses such as Clydesdales, Belgians and Percherons. We tend to look for horses in the pacific northwest (BC, Alberta, Washington) for the simple reason that trucking a horse home to Victoria from anywhere further than this is not only harder on the horse, but it can become cost prohibitive.
On average, we welcome home one or two new horses each year. All the horses we buy are broke to harness, meaning they are comfortable being hooked to various pulling apparatuses. Many of the horses have worked on ranches doing various physically intensive activities such as plowing; some have worked in the logging field; and some have been part of spectacular show hitches. Their backgrounds are varied, but they have one thing in common: they love to work.
Prior to purchasing new horses, we will meet them and access their personality for carriage work. Then, the horse will have a veterinary inspection to ensure he is healthy and sound; and a blood test to ensure that he does not have Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) which is a virus that can cause fevers, anemia (low red blood cell count), edema (stocking up), or weight loss/muscle wasting. Finally, we will have a certified farrier assess the horse’s foot health (poor feet can lead to muscle strains, posture/alignment issues, etc.).
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find new horses, and prices are at an all time high due to meat buyers reducing available supply. Large numbers of heavy horses are shipped live, to Japan, where the meat is sought after for basashi (horse sashimi), and the oils are used in beauty products. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reports that “between 2012 and 2014, upwards of $40 million Canadian dollars were seen from the export of more than 14,000 horses.”
Due to this challenge, we are increasingly happy to welcome home new horses, knowing the long, fulfilling life that lays ahead for them!