Many who come to visit Savannah are concerned for the well being of the animals pulling around these carriages full of smiling tourists. I mean, sure its great to hop on a carriage and be transported to a different time, but how do we really treat these horses behind the scenes? This is certainly a valid question and concern. We’d like to take this opportunity to tell you up-front just how life is for these big guys.
We have one pretty basic philosophy that we’ve adapted and feel VERY strongly about. Horses are people too. Well, technically not, but we can tell you that they each have very distinct personalities such as people. They want to be treated with respect and love and honesty, just like people. There is just no way that any of us could make a 2000lb plus animal to do something unless they wanted to…..so we ASK them, respectfully. Our drivers and barn-men are very much family members to these horses and know each little idiosyncrasy that tells us how a horse is feeling on a given day.
Here are some answers to some of the questions that people ask, and maybe even some that haven’t been thought of yet.
- “Do the horses get any time off”? Absolutely! We have enough horses in our herd that they get days off each week, and work just one shift a day.
- “Is the horse getting enough water”? or “Why isn’t that horse drinking”? You know the old adage, “you can lead a horse to water”….our horses are offered free choice water 24 hours a day. From the huge water buckets we keep at our carriage stand to the automatic waterer’s in their stalls. When the weather warms up or starts to cool off they are fed electrolytes which helps to make them thirsty. LadyBug prefers fruit punch Gatorade, so she gets that instead. You’ll also notice us putting pieces of apple in their water buckets and sometimes mixing Gatorade for them right there at our carriage stand.
- “What kind of horse shoes do they wear”? or “how often are the horses shod”? Most horses are on a 6 week rotation for shoes. We have found that the steel shoes with borium nuggets keep the horses balanced, and comfortable.
- “Is it too hot for the horses to be working” ? This is a big concern for many people, not just here in Savannah, but anywhere there are horse drawn tours offered. In the warmer months you will notice us taking the horses temperatures between each tour. We do this so that we can keep record of and assess their core body temperatures. If a horse is running a little hot, we’ll hose him off, concentrating on the major arteries to cool him quickly. We also alter our work shifts and hours of operation in the summer months to avoid the hottest part of the day. To be honest, working conditions are worse for the barn-men cleaning stalls and bringing in fresh fluffy shavings for the horses to bed down in , in the dead of summer. Another noteworthy fact is the five carriage companies have been working with the City of Savannah for the past year on a heat ordinance for the Carriage Operators. This has been a cooperative effort, as both the City and the Operators understand the importance of making working conditions the safest they can be for our very much loved horses. If ever you have a question or concern for any of the horses you see working here in Savannah, or would like to better educate yourself with regards to our business practices, we welcome your questions so we can help you to have accurate information. Ask us a question!