The General Public

The General Public

  • When not to board a carriage
  • When to emergency exit a carriage
  • Vote with your wallet
  • What not to say to a carriage driver
  • Communicate the kind of ride experience you want
  • How to handle your children around a carriage horse
  • Always ask first
  • Follow the rules
  • How to spot the BEST Operator(s)

The General Public

  • When not to board a carriage

Do not board a carriage if the carriage driver is not already seated and the driving lines (reins) are not yet in their hands. Do not board the carriage if the horse is visibly upset and agitated. If you are not sure, ask. Never board the carriage of an unattended horse.

  • Vote with your wallet

If you see dirty horses, skinny horses, limping horses, dirty harnesses pieced together with zip ties, carriages with obvious dirt, missing paint, and damage we encourage you to forego the ride. Often times these things seem to all go together. Trust your instincts. If it looks bad to you then the safety protocol is probably iffy to non-existent too. While the exception rather than the rule every industry has its few “bad players” The best thing you can do is vote a thumbs down with your wallet.

  • When to emergency exit a carriage

Naturally you should exit the carriage if the driver asks you to. This could be due to a horse tripping and falling in its harness. It could be because the driver feels the horse is becoming out of his or her control. It could be because a piece of tack has broken and the hitch is now unsafe. Do not question the request but do as you are told. If the driver has for some reason been catapulted off the carriage this too may be a good reason to exit the vehicle. If possible wait until the horse has slowed before attempting this. This sort of incident is extremely rare, but it’s a good idea to know what to do in the slim chance you find yourself one of these situations.

  • What not to say to a carriage driver

Do not tell a carriage driver how to care for his/her horse. They well know what their horses needs are. Do not tell them the horse needs a drink because it has foam on its lips. Foamy lips are a good thing and have nothing to do with being thirsty. Do not plead out loud “poor horsie” because the carriage horse works for his oats. Carriage horses are better cared for than the typical hobby horse. A carriage horse’s wellbeing is directly tied to the carriage driver himself. They are partners and they share a unique relationship with a bond that requires an immense amount of trust between them. Carriage horses enjoy being domestic partners with man and the evolutionary advantages that offers them. Do not accuse a carriage driver of exploiting his/her horse for monetary reasons. Nothing could be further from the truth. If carriage rides were about profit nobody would offer them. It’s a business where the employees are on the clock 24/7 and have free room and board, all meals served, housekeeping or horse keeping, dental, medical, haircuts, and to the barn door complete manicures every 6-8 weeks. It’s extremely labor intense for the human and very little profit. One sick horse and the vet bills can easily wipe out any modest profit hoped for. If you want a glimpse at what enamors most carriage drivers and company owners to the industry take a peek here (insert link to everybody loves a carriage horse on FB)

  • Communicate the kind of ride you wish

The best way to get what you imagined from your carriage ride is to communicate with your driver the kind of ride you wish. It may be a tour of the town where you learn about all the interesting sites and best restaurants. It may be a quite romantic ride where the desire is to cuddle with your honey while gazing at the night skyline while listening to the clip clop of hooves. You may be more interested in facts about your horse and information about the carriage. It can even be a group of rowdy teens or five year olds that just want to be noisy and get noticed. The best way to ensure you get the experience you want is to tell the driver. They will be happy to accommodate you and delighted they don’t have to guess.

  • How to handle your children around a carriage horse

Keep a close eye on them. Children can get very excited around a horse. To them a horse is just a giant cuddly puppy dog. Most carriage horses have a personality that furthers this impression. However…they are still a horse and a horse is a large powerful animal. Use caution and be mindful of your children’s behavior around the horse. If a horse appears agitated at all keep your children at a safe distance. Never push a stroller up under a horse’s stomach or into its legs. Do not let your children hug the horse’s legs. While a lot of carriage horses will tolerate these things it is never a good habit to allow. Should your child decide to do this to your neighbor’s horse it might very well end in tragedy. Teach your kids to always behave responsibly around any large animal.

  • Always ask first

Always ask first if you or your kids can pet the horse. Some companies allow it, some do not. Do not ask if you or your kids can sit on the carriage horses back, or ride in the carriage driver’s seat. Anything you wish to do around the horse should first be cleared with the person or persons handling the horse. It is a wonderful thing for a person in a wheelchair to be able to get close enough to stroke a velvety nose and the companies that allow that have trained ground people that are paying very close attention to that person’s safety while they are petting. That said some horses are not used to such things and it could upset them. Always ask and respect the answer, even if it is not the one you wanted to hear.

  • Follow the rules

Always remain seated throughout the ride. Keep arms, legs and feet inside the carriage. Do not attempt to jump on and off the carriage. If you want to get loud and rowdy ask the driver if the horse will be bothered by it. Never hit or slap the horse. Do not attempt to feed a carriage horse anything from your hands. Whatever rules the carriage operator asks you to abide by, abide by. They are not picking on you they are keeping you safe.