Think our carriages are too heavy? Our employees filled in for our horses to see just how hard it was to pull our carriages – and you might be surprised at the outcome. Watch our video below to check it out!
The care and well-being of the animals at Palmetto Carriage Works is something we take very seriously. So it only makes sense that the people who take care of our animals are chosen just as carefully as we choose our animals.
Down at the Big Red Barn, we have 20 barnhands. They are a team of well trained, knowledgeable and dedicated people. We took the time to sit down with one of our barnhands, Richard, to ask him a few questions about his daily routine at the Big Red Barn.
PCW: What are your daily responsibilities as a barnhand?
Richard: Feeding, grooming, harnessing and hitching 25 or more horses and mules… and that’s all before 10AM!
PCW: Is there one aspect of the job that you enjoy more than others? Why?
Richard: The animal interaction. I’m not really a people person. A lot of folks have asked me why I’m not a tour guide after 19 years in the industry – it’s working with the animals that gives me a better sense of accomplishment.
PCW: Are you able to make connections with the animals? Give an example.
Richard: Yes. I’m particularly fond of when an animal willingly takes the bit when placing the bridle. I think that is a connection that goes beyond “Hey, you’re the guy who feeds me and I might follow you!”
PCW: Are some horses easier to handle than others? How so?
Richard: Absolutely! Just like people every animal has their own individual personality. Some are easy going, some are more difficult to handle. There is some truth to the old saying “as stubborn as a mule” but I’ve known some pretty stubborn horses and a few rather willing mules.
PCW: Do you have a favorite horse? Who and why?
Richard: J.T. is really easy going and a hard worker all wrapped in one, just like me.
PCW: How long does it take to groom a horse?
Richard: An experienced barnhand can groom in just a few minutes. I would say 7-10 minutes to do the job on average, though. Some animals are nice and clean, you just need to pass a brush over them, others need full baths every morning to be ready to dressed in dray (harness).
PCW: How much hay do you think a single horse goes through in a week?
Richard: 2-3 bales plus grain (which averages out to about 8 quarts of grain per feeding).
PCW: Walk me through how you saddle up a horse.
Richard: Saddle is the wrong term – “harness” would actually be more accurate. Start with grooming, once the animal is clean you put on their collar and collar pad, then the actual harness goes on. We use a floating style work harness so it is pretty much one piece. The hames sit on the collar and then are buckled at the bottom. Once the hames are buckled, the girth (belly band) is fastened and the remainder of the harness (backstraps, spider & breeching) is stretched out over their back. Lastly, the bridle is placed on their head.
PCW: What skills do you have to have to handle horses?
Richard: Patience, a gentle persistence and consistency are all key elements.
PCW: Are there any lessons you have learned over the years working as a barnhand? What are they?
Richard: Expect the unexpected…. in a nutshell. They are animals who thrive on a routine and through repetition they begin to find complacency.
Lucy tripped and fell during a tour earlier today, but is doing fine.
May 5, 2018 (Charleston, SC) – Palmetto Carriage Works horse, Lucy, tripped and fell during a carriage tour around 4:20pm this afternoon.
“Sometimes horses and mules can trip just like you or I,” said Tommy Doyle, General Manager at Palmetto Carriage Works. “We are taking all proper precautions and making sure Lucy is thoroughly looked over by a licensed vet. We expect that she will receive a clean bill of health.”
After the trip, Lucy remained on the ground for about ten minutes until her driver could make sure her harness was untangled so that she would not be injured.
“Our professionals acted quickly to make sure Lucy was not injured and our guest were okay” says Doyle. “We are committed to the safety and care of our animals, and will ensure that she is feeling 100% before she returns back to work.”
Palmetto Carriage Works is the oldest carriage company in Charleston, SC. We are a family-owned business and are committed to providing the best level of care for our employees and our animals. Palmetto Carriage Works offers public and private mule or horse-drawn carriage tours with some of the most experience personnel in the Charleston carriage industry.
Here at Palmetto Carriage Works, we have some very powerful animals in our care. So it’s extremely important that our animals’ hooves get the proper care and attention both on and off the job.
Horses and mules wear horseshoes for extra traction and shock support. Horseshoes are metal, u-shaped plates that are usually made of steel, but sometimes they can be made of aluminum or even plastic. Our mules and small horses wear one steel shoe coated in rubber, while the draft horses wear a steel with rubber bolted on. They’re attached to the ground-side of the hoof with nails – but don’t worry! Our animals can’t feel the nails since that part of their hooves is not sensitive.
So how do we get our animals fitted for horseshoes? It’s no easy business! That’s why we have a professional farrier come to the barn twice a week to help us out. Farrier’s specialize in the preparation and fitting of the horseshoes on our animal’s feet. Since horseshoes come in many shapes and sizes, tailoring them to each individual animal is important. The horseshoes of our animals are changed every six weeks at a minimum to prevent them from coming loose.
In the event of a seriously injured hoof, the animal may be seen by both the farrier and the vet where a proper course for treatment, whether it be rest or specialized shoes, is decided. In the event of a thrown shoe, a boot is used to allow them to keep working until the farrier’s next visit to the barn.
Protecting our animals’ hooves with proper care and horseshoes is a job that we take very seriously at Palmetto Carriage Works. With the help of our farriers, we can do just that and ensure that our animals’ hooves stay happy!
We are thrilled to announce that carriage tours were voted the number 1 attraction in S.C. by Travel + Leisure!
Our carriage tours offer “a one-hour crash course in Southern history,” as they take you on a 2.5 mile loop full of antebellum mansions, churches and gardens.
And being the oldest carriage tour company in Charleston, our knowledgeable tour guides have been able to perfect the tour experience, highlighting the Holy City’s 19th century charm in a 21st century city in a unique way.
Our family-owned company offers a fun and educational experience your friends and family will remember for years to come, so be sure to book your ticket today!
Photo by Jennings King Photography, 2017.
You’re probably familiar with the horseshoe being considered a symbol of luck, but do you know why? There are several legends that explain why horseshoes are considered lucky, and all of them go back centuries. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty of why horseshoes are thought to bring luck. (And we’ll even let you in on a few secrets about how to make a little of that luck your own!)
Something that seems to be agreed upon in most legends is that horseshoes are lucky because they’re made by blacksmiths. According to lore, blacksmiths are extremely lucky people because they work with one of the basic elements – fire. They also work with iron, which is considered by some to contain magic because of its strength and ability to withstand the flame.
Another more sinister legend contends that the horseshoe is auspicious because the devil wants nothing to do with one. See, Lucifer himself once went to a blacksmith to get his hooves shod and the smith nailed the shoes into Satan’s hooves red hot. At first it didn’t phase him, and he went on his way. But soon, it caused him such agony that he tore them off and vowed never to go near a horseshoe again. The lesson? If you keep a horseshoe handy, you can keep the devil away!
So how can you get some luck for yourself? You can always buy yourself a horseshoe, but it’s said that the luck actually increases if you find it – with bonus points if the nails are still in it. As for how to hang it? There are differing opinions on this. Some believe that you should hang the shoe with the heels (or ends) facing up. This provides a safe way to “hold” your luck without it pouring out. Others say it’s better to have the heels pointing down so that all of the luck comes down on the people passing beneath it. Whichever way you choose to hang it, your luck will be with you.
As for Palmetto Carriage Works, we feel like horseshoes are pretty lucky right on our horses’ feet!
For many in Charleston, the welfare of carriage horses and mules has been a heated topic of conversation. At Palmetto Carriage Works, it’s something that we are always talking about, and since we consider our animals a part of our family, we make it our job to make sure they are always happy and healthy.
As you know, it can get pretty hot here in Charleston, so how exactly do our mules and horses fare during the summer? Let us tell you!
First we make sure all of our horses get plenty of water and breaks at the barn between tours — especially during the summer. We also make sure that our staff is always aware of the temperature outside.
On summer days here in Charleston when the temperature reaches 95 degrees or the heat index reaches 110, all of our carriage tours are halted. By stopping our tours once the temperature reaches these levels, we ensure that our animals aren’t working in conditions that could lead to overheating. Though measuring the outdoor temperature is a good way to gauge the working conditions of our animals, a better indicator is taking the individual temperature of each animal – which is why after every tour, we do just that!
If at any time, the temperature of one of our animals is more than 102.9 degrees, which is within the normal range for a working horse, the animal doesn’t go back to work until he/she has cooled off to the appropriate temperature range.
Not only do we pay attention to the temperature and health of our horses, but did you know that Charleston is one of the only recorded cities in the world to do so? Other cities with working horses don’t monitor individual animals for temperature! And because we do monitor our animals so closely, we have never had a heat related incident in over 30 years of business.
At Palmetto Carriage Works, the safety and wellbeing of our employees, especially our four-legged ones, is always top of mind.
Over the years, there has been a lot of misconceptions about the carriage industry. Some of the most common misconceptions involve the number of hours our animals work, what kind of heat our animals operate in, and the living conditions in which our animals are kept in their stalls.
Here at Palmetto Carriage Works we want to set the record straight by showing just how much we care for our animals.
Watch the video below to learn about the lengths our staff go to in order to provide the best safety for each and every one of our four-legged friends.
One of the questions we get asked a lot at Palmetto Carriage Works is “How do your animals handle such heavy loads?” The answer: easily.
Not only are our horses and mules incredibly strong, but we always make sure our loads are never too heavy. But just to clear up any misinformation out there about how our carriage horses and mules are treated (and how hard they work), we’re here to set the record straight.
Our top priority at Palmetto Carriage Works is the well being of our horses and mules – so of course we don’t want them pulling a load that is too heavy! To make sure this doesn’t happen, we use mule teams or single draft horses on our larger carriages and single mules or horses on our smaller carriages.
To give you an idea of just how much weight our animals can pull, a regular horse can easily pull a wheeled vehicle that is six times his own weight. Since the average weight of a draft horse is about 1,400-2,000 pounds, that means that one of our larger horses could easily pull up to 12,000 pounds. That’s a whole lot of cargo!
Even though our horses and mules have the ability to pull such heavy loads without breaking a sweat, we definitely don’t ask them to do that. Our animals never pull more than 3x their weight, a rule stated by the City of Charleston that we are happy to follow. In keeping with this rule, it ensures that our animals aren’t struggling to make it through the Charleston streets. For them it’s just another walk around the neighborhood – especially compared to the work they were doing before coming to Palmetto Carriage Works. Since most of our horses and mules come from farms where they were full-time working animals, they were working in deep footing and plow fields on a regular basis.
Now that they are cared for at Palmetto Carriage Works, we make sure that they are treated well, they don’t work too hard and that they get frequent breaks for water and snacks, resulting in a barn full of happy horses and mules!
Imagine this: 5-hour workdays, multiple relaxation breaks, 133 vacation days, daily meals, as well as room, board and transportation provided.
That sounds like a pretty awesome job, right? Our animals at Palmetto Carriage Works think so too.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let us give you the whole job description first.
While we know most people in Charleston only see our animals as they are working, that doesn’t mean that’s all they do. We are big believers in work-life balance, which is why our animals get an average of 19 weeks* of vacation time. (That’s a whole lot more than the six week minimum required by the City of Charleston!) Our animals spend their vacation time on John’s Island at the Doyle family farm, with plenty of room to roam and run.
The animals benefit from both the time and space they get in our green pastures at the Doyle family farm. You may be surprised to know that when an issue arises with one of our animals, it is most often due to their time at the farm. That’s because at the farm they get more time alone in the open field as opposed to the constant monitoring they receive in the controlled conditions of the Big Red Barn.
The Doyle family farm is about 20 miles away from downtown Charleston, and we transport our animals by truck and trailer to get to work. Each trailer has enough room for 10 animals! Once they make it to the Big Red Barn, our animals work an average of five hours* a day. The City of Charleston requires that no animals should work for more than eight hours, but we like to keep the days shorter for our animals at Palmetto Carriage Works. During each shift, we give them plenty of rest, making sure each animal gets a 15-minute break at minimum for a drink and some time by our misting fans.
Often times, during downtime at the Big Red Barn, our animals can be found asleep standing up, with one hind foot cocked in our spacious stalls. If they feel like it, they can even lay down to rest their legs.
Though a lot of people have questions about how much and how hard our animals work, we make sure that we give them plenty of rest to make sure that they are never overworked. It’s in our best interest here at Palmetto Carriage Works to make sure that our horses and mules are well-rested. Giving them extensive vacation time and regular breaks guarantees that they are healthy and ready to go when it is time to work. By ensuring they don’t work too hard or too much, we’re providing these animals with a positive life full of love and care.
*Based on 2016 Work Study.