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10 Most Commonly Asked Questions to Commercial Carriage Operators


By Chrissy Saylor, Manager, Carriage Tours of Memphis
1. Is this hard for the horse?
Most commercial carriage companies use draft breed horses such as Belgians and Percherons. These horses are bred to work and can easily pull 5 times their own body weight. We use them at a much lower capacity, and most of them enjoy the attention they get from the public.
2. Do they wear special shoes?
In Memphis, and many other cities, our horses wear protective rubber shoes that help absorb shock and provide better traction than steel shoes. These shoes are replaced about every two months as the rubber wears away.
3. Why do they have blinders over their eyes?
Blinders are a standard safety feature for any driven horse. They help prevent the horse from being startled by things rushing up behind him (like cars), and keep his attention focused on the road ahead.
4. Does the carriage have brakes?
Yes, we have hydraulic brakes on the carriages. They are not meant to be used to stop the horse, but instead are used to help keep the carriage from rolling too fast on a hill, and to stabilize the carriage during loading/unloading.
5. Why do you have whips?
The whips are used as an extension of the driver’s arm to help give the horse instruction to move his body to one side or the other. They are not used as punishment. (Except on unruly passengers!)
6. Do the horses mind the weather?
Horses are actually better conditioned to work outside than most people because they are not spoiled by living in heating or air conditioning. However, in extreme temperatures, storms or icy conditions, we suspend operations until the conditions improve.
7. How much does that horse weigh?
Most of our draft horses weigh between 1600-2000 pounds. They are bred with heavier bone and muscling for work, and often have a more laid-back personality than many smaller breeds.
8. Doesn’t the traffic scare them?
Our horses go through lots of training before ever taking passengers. They are introduced slowly to all the sights and sounds of downtown until they are comfortable in their new environment.
9. Is he thirsty?
We carry buckets of water underneath the carriages so that we have water available to offer the horses to drink anywhere, anytime.
10. Do the horses get to be turned out?
In Memphis, each CONA company has acreage outside of the downtown area to vacation or rotate the horses.
Any responsible company will welcome your questions.  We are proud of our horses, and we love to show them off.

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