Plantation Carriage Company
One of the first things visitors to Historic Downtown Savannah notice are the horse-drawn carriages. Some carriages are canopied. Some carriages are bedecked in flowers and ribbons. The horses in front are a variety of colors. But, they all share the privilege of being a staple of Historic Downtown Savannah.
The horse-drawn carriages provide a unique mode of transportation for special events. Or, for Savannah visitors, these carriages are a way to tour the Historic Downtown area. Most locals are used to sharing the roads with these proud horses and their carriages. But, just like the folks you may see every day in passing and never really know, most Savannahians know little about the horses and their carriages. So, we sat down and talked with Jennifer Thompson of Plantation Carriage Company to learn a little bit more about our four-legged friends and their jobs.
Contrary to popular belief, walking on paved roads is not harmful to the horses and is actually easier going for them than dirt paths. In fact, the first paved road in Georgia was in Savannah, and it was created to make the going easier for the horses. All employees at The Plantation Carriage Company are professionals with experience in working with horses. The staff includes a team of farriers who routinely trim/balance the horses’ hooves and shoes. The Plantation team has built deep connections with each horse in the stable.
Draft horse breeds such as Belgian, Percherons, and North American Spotteds are used to pull carriages. These are all breeds of work horse used to pulling heavy loads for long periods of time. Most of the horses at Plantation Carriage are in a second phase of their “careers” now. Many of them have spent the early years of their lives doing work for logging companies or on Amish farms. Now, these horses are able to enjoy a more leisurely schedule and far less strenuous work. These horses usually live into their 30s, but normally work until they are into their 20s. Plantation Carriage conducts general fitness evaluations everyday and more extensive evaluations monthly.
The company rotates the shifts of the horses to ensure that they are able to take breaks and get plenty of rest, even during the busy season. If you have seen horses on a farm on rainy days you know they don’t huddle in the expensive barns. Instead, they play in the rain. So if you see horses out in the rain do not be concerned. However, in the event of storms, tours are cancelled due to the threat of lightning. This means that the team at Plantation Carriage diligently keeps an eye on weather radar forecasts, so as not to put the horses, drivers or tour groups in any danger due to lightning.
Besides a pretty sweet work schedule, routine medical evaluations and care, and vacations, the horses also get treats. Lots of treats. Of course, the horses get apples year round. But, they also get seasonal treats. In the colder months, the horses are given soft peppermint candies as treats. In the summer, they are given watermelon, which provides much needed hydration. The horses also get their fetlocks on some Guinness a treats. Sound crazy? It’s not — the beer helps replenish the B-vitamins that the horses lose through their sweat.
One of our favorite horses at Plantation Carriage is Cinder. Cinder is a sassy little Percheron, and proof that each of these horses have their own unique personality. Cinder has Arab blood, which, according to Jennifer, is part of why she is so feisty. Everyone loves Cinder. When she passes other horses on the street, they will whinny at her. And Cinder loves Cinder, too — she has been caught more than once staring at her reflection in a window or puddle and giving herself a whinny.
Jennifer and her team at The Plantation Carriage Company do a fantastic job of caring for these horses. They also do a fantastic job of providing hospitality to Savannah visitors, acting as carriage drivers and as tour guides. City ordinances restrict where horse-drawn carriages can pull over. So, if you see them out and about while in your vehicle, be patient and do your best to indicate your direction. The carriage drivers and horses have no desire to hold up traffic, so show these 4-legged ambassadors of Savannah some love. They may be pampered, but they are working just as hard as any of us to make Savannah a great place to visit and to live.
Plantation Carriage Company
Plantation Carriage Company is a wonderful source for carriage rides around Savannah’s historic district, weddings, and other special occasions. Tours depart daily from the southeast corner of Ellis Square.
Find out more information or book a tour online here