Mackinac Island

Last week we had a guest post on Scotch Bottom Shoes, a… nifty… little device in the draft continent of the horse world 😉 This week we have the much anticipated tale from Mackinac Island.  Enjoy!

Mackinac Island

As I was putting this post together, I did not know quite where to begin. I suppose a confession is in order and a bit of background. I worked on the Island the summer after I graduated from college for four months, before I discovered I was pregnant and returned home. There were some fun parts to working on the Island, but those were few and far between. I did not, at the time, have the energy or courage to stand up and speak with someone about what I’d seen.  No one else seemed to have a problem with what was going on, it was just accepted business practice.

For those not familiar with the area, Mackinac Island is a small island sandwiched between upper and lower Michigan, a few miles from the Mackinac Bridge. Most of it is a National Historic Park, but people do live there. The unique thing about it, and why I, as a draft horse mad woman ended up working there, is that there are no cars allowed on the island aside from emergency vehicles. It is the biggest tourist trap in the area, full of fudge, expensive everything, beauty and of course, horses. Horses are the way to get around on the Island, along with bikes.

Horses pull the drays that deliver everything from food, merchandise, luggage and garbage. Horses pull the street sweeper, act as taxis, give the tours and haul everything. One of the most nut-bag things about the island, something that went against all the safety training I’ve ever had, was that not only can you rent your own saddle horse and proceed to wander about the Island, you can rent your own horse and buggy from the livery. This boggled my mind. The livery drafts were literally the oldest, most brain dead horses I have ever met. Their top speed is about one foot moving every minute or so. They have to put up with so much, from clueless tourists trying to get lost and yanking on their faces just to start with. The tour drivers used to make a joke of it: “It’s impossible to get lost with one of the livery drafts, because you aren’t really the driver, the horse is!”

I was a tour driver for Mackinac Island Carriage Tours; the big red and yellow wagons that did the same 30 minute loop about 10 times a day or more, depending on the day. Everyday I worked about 12 to 16 hours, again depending on early tours and late weddings. My roommate often worked later than I as she would finish giving tours for the day and go on a ride along with the late night taxis.

My days were thus as I lived in the company dorms downtown next to the fire station:

Around4:30am my alarm would go off or my roommates, and downstairs we would stumble to stuff ourselves with the cheapest, most fake food to be found (later, after morning sickness hit, I would breakfast on yogurt.)

We trudged up the hill to the barns after breakfast – and this was usually the best part of my day. It was a mile hike uphill, a short part of the day I was not sitting on my butt, and also the most beautiful and quiet; before the Island woke up and the fog burned off.

As soon as I arrived at the barns I had to start breathing through my mouth. The carriage tour and taxi barns are in a large complex at the top of the hill behind the golf course, put there, I believe, because most tourists don’t walk up there. The barns always stunk to high heaven. I know they were old but they were never clean – either of cobwebs, urine, poop, or just general mess. The urine smell was embedded in the boards and the concrete. The TTEAM trainer I worked for previously had always had me lay down lime after mucking out a stall to dry out the urine and make it smell nice. This never failed and lime was cheap and plentiful. When I asked why lime wasn’t used in the Island barns, I was told it was too expensive. Perhaps this is true – the four huge barns could house up to 80 draft horses each so that would have to be a lot of lime. But to me it would have been worth it to save the lungs of the horses that had to stand in it and the workers who spent all day in the barns prepping horses.

As a carriage tour driver I was only required to prep my morning team. Standard procedure was that each carriage was pulled by a team, or two drafts that worked well together. There were two teams per wagon per day, so there was a morning team that worked roughly 5 tours a day and switched out at lunch. The afternoon team could work up to 8 tours a day, plus be routed for wedding or other duties after the tour office closed. Prepping the teams meant giving them a good grooming and throwing on their harness and making sure it was perfect. In the mornings the barns would be full of barn workers, horses and tour drivers everywhere, fighting over the scarce grooming tools, lugging harnesses and cleaning their carriages for the day.

Nearly every horse that had been on the Island for any length of time had sores, usually open ones, on their neck where the collar sat. These horses were hauling around 3-4000 pound wagons full of people uphill for about a mile several times a day. Most of the collars were leather or biothane and rubbed on those open sores the whole time the horse was hitched. When I told the barn manager, my first few times, about open sores on the weight bearing portion of a horse’s or team’s neck, I was handed a tube of baby powder and told to sprinkle that on the sores and harness up the team. Over time I learned not to bother the barn manager about the horse’s neck sores, I just did what I could to make the horses as comfortable as possible.

Our assigned tour route for the two horse portion forced on us by our supervisors took no more than 30 minutes to get up the hill, drop the passengers off for the three horse section of the tour, and drive back downtown for the next load.

Anyone who has ever stood close to a draft horse is probably struck by two things: How big and strong they are, and how slow. Tour drivers were never allowed to trot, yet we always had this time limit hung over our heads. Lots of drivers pushed their horses to meet this, not resting for long enough or stopping at the designated places. I, however, was frequently talked to about how long my tours were taking.

During the day I had to deal with occasionally fussy passengers, but that was the easiest part. The hard part was handling a team in the mess of downtown. There were people on bicycles who hadn’t ridden one in years and didn’t know the protocol for parking and so you had to dodge people on bikes and badly parked bikes. There were people and their dogs and kids everywhere, and because there were no cars people seldom watched where they were going or looked before crossing the street. There were the taxis and private carriages which were allowed to trot, drays and luggage and hay wagons to manoeuvre around, and everywhere people. On top of that, due to the fact that I had quite a bit more experience with drafts and with driving then 90% of the tour drivers (scary fact: as listed on the carriage tour website there is no horse experience necessary for any position with the company.  The training provided is two days of watching tours and a week of driving instruction before you start giving tours on your own). I was given the rankest, rawest horses to drive.  I drove the ones that were bought at one of the Midwest Auctions two days before and shipped up to the Island. I had the honor of testing and driving them to see how they dealt with everything the Island could throw at them; all the while giving regular tours. But draft horses are used on the Island not just for their size and strength but for their calm, I (fortunately) never once had an incident with any of the new horses, although the potential, as with all equine pursuits, was always there.

Case in point: On one of my rare days off when I actually took a ferry and left the island there was an accident. My roommate and three other drivers lost control of their teams, a few with wagons full of people, and the horses took off onto the Grand Hotel Gulf Course. As far as I know, no people were hurt though a few of the horses had to be sent off the Island due to their sprains and other injuries.

The only incident I ever had with one of my teams was the day I was taking a wedding party from downtown all the way out to the west side of the Island. One of the most beautiful, steadiest mares, who I loved, a Belgian/Percheron cross, went nuts just up the hill from the Grand Hotel. This hill is quite steep and I had a wagon full of already half-drunk wedding guests, and one of my horses was rearing, bucking, and trying to bolt. My hands still ache when I think of what it took to keep her from bolting, carriage and all. I managed to keep the team at a trot up the hill, while trying to calm the passengers who were understandably worried. I finally got the mare to halt at the barns where I was told that I had to take the wedding guest to their destination, which was a 3 mile round trip from the barn, before I could switch out teams. I needed my job so I didn’t argue. When I spoke with the vet the next day, I was told the mare had gotten a bee sting right under the birchen, the piece of leather that loops around a horses hindquarters, and the birchen kept rubbing on the sting which is why the mare freaked out.

When a tour was dropped off up at the Carriage Museum past the barns for the second, three horse hitch part of their tour through the state park, we would take in people whose tour was done and either drop them off at the Grand Hotel or back downtown. Depending on how busy the day was, tour carriages would line up in the center of the main street downtown to wait for the next carriage to fill up at the ticket office. This was nerve wracking until you got used to it, and then it was still bad. We were right in the thickest part of traffic, we had other wagons squeezing by us and bumping us if we hadn’t pulled perfectly to the center of the road, bikes being knocked over by careless people and tourists and their kids begging to pet your horses. This was not allowed, though I always hated telling some little kid, “Sorry you can’t pet the horsey” because I hoped that by being allowed to interact with the horses those kids would grow up to be horse lovers, or at least not indifferent to them.

I would give tours from about 8am, sometimes earlier if there was a big group, until after 5pm when the ticket office closed. After that I either had to wait to ferry people back from the last tours of the day, give a wedding party a ride, or be let go for the evening – never any earlier than 6pm. In the evening we unhitched our afternoon team, unharnessed, gave them a hose bath and then the carriage drivers were done for the day, usually around 7pm if it was an early day.

Life in the barns themselves had a different flow. I did work in the barns on the few days I didn’t feel well enough to give tours and I always regretted it. The urine smell would give me a headache in no time and prepping more than just one team made me want to cry from seeing the sores the animals had to put up with. The barns only had standing tie stalls and in a few the wooden floor was cracked or broken. Most of the stalls had automatic waters that mostly worked but all of them had some form of mold growing in them, and a few even had small patches of grass growing in them!

The barn routine started earlier and ended later than a carriage driver’s. The barn workers caught horses from the small dirt paddock they spent the night in and brought them in to the standing stalls and fed breakfast. We helped the drivers get their teams clean and harnessed up in the mornings, and then worked to get everyone hitched to their carriage and out of the barn. Stall ‘cleaning’ generally happened about this time. I say ‘cleaning’ because the stalls were never clean, or dry, or even vaguely healthy. A few times I went above and beyond and scattered some hay on the stall floors to try to soak up the urine. I was then talked to about wasting precious hay. There were no shavings, which is why I was using hay. Sometime in the middle of the morning chaos a driver was sent up to the dump with a wagon full of yesterday’s dirty manure and “bedding”. This was a job I jumped at doing. It was just one driver and one team, all alone in the quietest part of the Island in the cool morning.

After everyone was hitched and out of the barn and the stalls were ‘clean’, the barn people started grooming and harnessing the afternoon teams. About the time that was done, it was time to switch out teams, a feat that looked like a NASCAR tire change due to the precision and control it took. The driver’s job was to keep a carriage full of paying customers entertained for the few minutes it took the barn people to unhitch and lead away one team and hitch up the next team to the carriage. All told there would be up to 30, 2 horse carriages out for the day, and around 15, 3 horse hitch carriages out, not counting taxis or private carriages.

One of my favourite parts of working on the Island was talking about the horses with the passengers. I always made time in my tours to talk quite a bit about them and answer questions, and most people were genuinely interested and surprised at some of the facts I shared. My least favourite parts were dealing with the other drivers, most of whom could care less about the horses and not being able to do anything about those neck sores. At the end of the summer I was quite happy to go home to our two drafts and spoil them outrageously and fuss over every little scratch and bit of dirt on them.


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Posted on January 26, 2012, in Misc Horsies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. That is awful! I live in Michigan and I have been to Mackinac Island several times. I have never been on a carriage ride there, but I have ridden the bikes. I feel awful for those horses, and you are right, as a tourist, we know nothing about the conditions of how they are kept.
    Also, it is a giant tourist trap and everything is greatly over priced. Although the ferry ride over is nice and the idea of no cars on the island seems old-timey, I cannot imagine working there with the amount of people that visit.

    Did you know that the only time someone does not have to pay to leave the island is when the Lake is frozen over? They send someone on a snowmobile and if they come back alive (you know, if the ice didnt crack and drown them) others follow. Crazy.

    Do you know anything about the horses in Frankenmouth?

    • There are at least two carraige companies in Frankenmuth. Both have turnout, I believe. One is right down the road from Frankenmuth, the other is a ways away and the horses have to be dropped off. They also take care of their horses. No sores etc. My friend used to drive for them.

  2. I worked on ‘Mackitraz’ for 7 seasons, from 99 (I think?) to 2006 or 2007 ( I think? Hell, between the aluminium from canned beer and concussions from horses and hockey, I have a craptastical memory). In that time, I drove 2-hitch, 3 hitch, taxis and then did security (more like a babysitter for idiots) in the employee dorm. I can verify that everything said here is pretty much true, though how well the horses were treated could depend a great deal on the driver, to be honest. If I saw someone screwing up in a a way that might harm their team, I wasn’t shy about telling them. If there was crud in my horse’s water dispenser, I cleaned it. I threw down hay for my horses to bed down on, and never once got ‘spoken to’ about it, though if I had, I’d have probably told them where to go and how to get there. I’d never worked around drafts before I got to ‘The Rock’, but once I figured out what the hell I was doing, I made sure my kit fit, and if it didn’t, I either asked for replacements or got it myself – it was always easier to beg forgiveness than it was to ask permission. The barns reeked of ammonia from years of urine-soaked wood and the hay …if you can really call it hay… was dusty, cheap and full of tree-foil that the horses wouldn’t eat anyway and would toss it out of their hay troughs. I once saw the barn boss tossing bales into the manure wagon and when his boss asked wtf he was doing, the bb replied ‘cutting out the middle man’. I think I almost snorted coffee out my nose that day.

    When I drove the smaller, lighter taxis, if it was hot/humid, my horses walked -everywhere-. If tourists were in a hurry, I figured they were on the wrong fucking Island. My horses always came first, and if I got shit about it, I didn’t care. Sure I needed the job, but for some reason, people generally didn’t give me a hard time about anything and I just did my own thing.

    At the height of the season, there could be 10-11 thousand people or more, every day, and the streets turn into a kind of surreal obstacle course.The traffic downtown never really bothered me. I always drove horses that needed to actually be driven, but maybe it was because I didn’t stress about the crush of traffic, they never seemed to either. Honestly, I think they enjoyed running over things at much as I did. I figured ‘if you’re in my way, you’re out of luck’. I only ever made allowances for people with seeing-eye dogs, children and the disabled. Everyone else could get the hell out of my way or end up with a pair of horses blowing horsesnot down their necks. I usually drove horses that were nearly as cranky as I was (which only made me love them more), so it was like free entertainment while I worked. Not being a morning person, and forced to get up at 0530 every morning, I turned into a surly bitch who lived on coffee and pure, concentrated cranky for six months of the year. No one but the personnel manager/front office staff and probably 3 other people knew me by my actual name and I was only ever referred to by my nickname.

    One summer, I managed to smoke 5 bicycles with my taxi. No one was actually on them and they weren’t parked in the designated area – I had places to be and while I thought I had enough room to get around them, I usually caught them with the fender of my cab. When I wanted to put little black bike icons on the front of my taxi to record my ‘kills’, like they do on fighter jets, the personnel manager vetoed my idea. When I said ‘yeah, but I got 5. That makes me an Ace’, I don’t think he saw the humour. His loss.

    As for the livery saddlehorses and buggy horses? There truly is no greater hell on earth for a horse on that island than to be a fudgy (tourist)rental. The saddle horses wear the worst-fitting equipment I’d ever seen, some having 3-5 pads under already badly fitting saddles. There’s no life in their eyes and they just look so dead inside. During the busiest parts of the summer, the barn entrance on the livery stable might as well have been a revolving door – they’d come in from one 1 hour (at minimum) ride, and if they were lucky, they’d get a quick drink before going out again, and the rental stables were open at least 10 hours a day. How even ‘non horsey’ people can’t see that these animals had completely given up is beyond me.

    I did have some fun times on Mackitraz, and I learned a lot about how much I hate people in general. To this day I can’t stand going to ‘tourist’ places, least of all any that involve animals. In the end, other than a few good memories, a metric-crap-ton of bad ones and a few amusing stories, all I ended up with was a shoulder that’s been separated and dislocated twice and the worst case of carpal tunnel syndrome my doctor’s ever seen. If you enjoy your sanity, never never go there.

    Er.. Anyway.. this ended up being a lot longer that I meant it to be, sorry. Oh.. and if any Mackitraz Carriage Tour allumni are reading this.. 10 points if you’re bored enough to guess who I am.

  3. Thanks for the review! Glad I can cross Mackinaw off my list. Sounds like Pier 39 or Martha’s Vineyard crossed with the saddest creatures from Camelot. So funny about the fudge! I run away screaming when I see signs for fudge. OMG HONEY THEY HAVE FUDGE! Right, cuz… fudge is only available at the dumbest locations.

    • Meg "roccoriel"

      Seriously. I read a write up about the island in a magazine suggesting romantic get-aways. Magazine made it sound lovely. Crossing it off my list of places to go after this. I couldn’t go somewhere that depended on animals this strongly but treated them like crap.

  4. Wow. What a place. Interesting stories. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I have done Honor Scouts there, and before then I hadn’t been there since I was a child. When I was there, I loved it; probably because I was almost constantly busy working. But then I’d notice the horses, and how tired they looked, or how they walked, or how sore they looked. I never saw what I considered to be a decent pasture or turnout for them, and I cringed every time I saw some yahoo tourist pulling on the reins of a rented horse – I really wonder how many people and horses are injured seasonally because they don’t know what they are doing.
    The whole experience really turned me off about it because I always loved Mackinac Island State Park; not the fudgies and the cheap souvenirs, but the actual beauty of the island (and being the only people allowed to ever build a fire there, that’s always a perk of someplace).

  6. I used to show draft horses for years in western WA, and drove a tourist trolley in Chelan, WA (the ONLY one in town so the horses were owned by a private individual and trailered in from home everyday and were very well cared for) and I owned and showed Miniature Horses for many years….so I know a fair bit about harnessing, hitching (single and teams) and driving. Anyway, I don’t want to step on toes, but whomever taught you that it was called a “birchen” was an idiot. Not saying you are, but THEY are. Unfortunately, in the horse world, there are alot of idiots who teach the wrong things to good folks who want to learn, and the sorry cycle just keeps getting repeated. Pick up ANY harness book and look at a diagram of one, any type of one: that piece of the harness is actually called a “breeching” on ANY harness: work, show, fine, pleasure, etc., no matter what size: draft, horse, cob, pony, miniature, etc. I mean, I guess if you were spelling it like it was pronounced to you I understand, due to local dialects and such. Who knows but never in all the years I’ve been working with harness horses have I ever seen or heard of a “birchen” on a harness.

    Anyway, I did enjoy the story(s) and am now glad that I’ve never been there….I’d probably get thrown off the island because of my big mouth when it comes to horses. *sigh*…. I lived in the Charleston, SC area for a few years also (military wife) and the experiences you have witnessed don’t seem too far off from how the carriage horses there are treated either.

    • I’ve heard it pronounced “britchen” and always wondered why it was spelled “breeching.” I’ve also heard crupper pronounced “croop-er.” I’m still not sure which one is correct.

      • I’ve taken driving lessons from a competitive driving instructor in my area and yes, “breeching” is pronounced how it is spelled, same for “crupper”. 🙂

  7. Lovely post, and interesting comments. I hope that this type of dialogue spreads awareness and helps (eventually) to ameliorate conditions for the poor horses who still endure.

  8. I’ve never even heard of this place, but I’m glad to have read this post. If I ever do see an advertisement for the island, I’ll know to steer clear. I would be a seething ball of white hot rage if I had to see a bunch of yahoo tourists yanking and banging away on the backs of some poor old saints.

  9. Yeah crupper can be pronounced either way…it just depends on where you are. In WA it was “crupper” while in VA I heard “crooper”…go figure. Same with “breeching”…on the West Coast it was usually “britchen” and on the East Coast I heard “breeching”. It’s like BOSEL….in WA I knew it as “bo-zell” while on the East Coast everyone said “Bossel”. All in all though they are always spelled the same.

  10. Worked as a Carriage Tour and Taxi driver on the Island from 80-83, and then did a month in 2000 for old times sake. Most of the same management is in place, or at least guys I worked with on the buggy are now running the show. I feel there are some details missing here that need to be clarified.

    Mackinac Island is an incredibly beautiful and enchanting place, one of my favorite places anywhere, ever. The natural beauty is really something special and the slow pace refreshing … at least if you’re a visitor. Do not let one persons opinion steer you to or away from something beautiful – make up your own mind. If you’ve ever seen “Somewhere In Time” then you’ve seen a bit of the Island. The Island was also featured on an episode of “Dirty Jobs” with Mike Rowe a few years ago.

    Mackinac Island Carriage Tours operates about 300 head of horses of various shapes and sizes at any given time. 300. That’s a lot of horses for 10-15 guys in the barn to manage . The care of MY horses was not left entirely to the barn crew, the Barn Boss or anyone else. I was an active participant and took that seriously. Many times, I used a bit of my own money to try different treatments recommended by other working horse folks to deal with everything from flies to soreness – we were partners, the horses and me. At NO TIME was I ever turned down for a consultation about one of my horses, or had I ever had treatment refused to one of my horses. One of the owners is Dr. Bill Chambers, DVM who on more occasions than I can count worked with me to keep my horses working and healthy. And that is a key distinction here, these are working horses.

    The majority of the 2 horse hitch harnesses were said to be WW I surplus – light cannon harness. I don’t know how much of what was there was actually original, but it had been maintained when broken and cleaned (sorta) when put up for the winter. Remember the 300 head part above? That’s a whole lot of harness, and I’d guess between the Island barns and the farm on the mainland they must’ve had about 500 sets in various forms. We had 2 full-time ferriers and a harness shop with a fulltime leather guy who was incredible.

    Shoulder and neck sores – 50% of the cause? Ill-fitting harness. There were 3 key components here, the fit of the collar, the fit of the collar pad, and whether or not the collar pad was worn, dirty or misshapen. Drivers were responsible for identifying potential issues and learning how to check and fit the harnesses and collars for their teams. It wasn’t up to the barn crew – the health of our horses was always a cooperative effort and we spent more time with them than anyone else. The other 50% of the cause? Driver skill. Our carriages carried 16 passengers and 1 driver. The carriage itself is not light, and all of them are equipped with hydraulic brakes. Properly used, the brakes keep the entire weight of the carriage off of the horses so they could descend any hill or come to a stop as if we weren’t back there. When the brakes are not properly modulated going down a hill – like the Grand Hotel hill – then the harness and collar shift and move which will wear through the shoulder and neck contact areas pretty darned quickly. Driver skill is a HUGE component in keeping the horses healthy and sore free. It’s not always avoidable, especially during summers when it’s very hot and the horses sweat soaks the collar pads day after day. I managed to hide away a spare pad for each one of my horses every summer, so I could rotate them out after cleaning and washing. This was hard to do because I had to be disciplined in application, but it was probably the single best thing I did. Keeping the manes clipped where the collar rested was also key. The clippers were kept in the ferrier shop right next to the Tour barn, so all I had to do was walk my horse over there and take care of it. I trimmed probably more often than I needed to, but I was just a city kid trying to learn a new trick.

    Trotting. When I was there, we were allowed to trot our teams, but the more experienced drivers avoided it whenever possible. Horses who spend all their time trotting seemed to lose their ability to walk with speed – it seemed that their stride would shorten. And trotting them downhill was the fastest route to a lame horse. So we found that the more they walked, the faster they could walk which lowered the need to trot in order to keep up. This is almost impossible for rookies to do though, because they were (usually) given horses that were the most sedate, slowest and in many cases the oldest. Speed can kill in a crowded downtown area, and rookies have their hands full just getting used to all the things they need to be on the lookout for. If they had a team in their hands with some real spunk, strength and speed, it could be a dangerous situation. My rookie year horses pretty much sucked – Myrtle and Mabel along with Buddy and Rock. God they were awful to drive and older than the hills – but they did teach me a whole lot without getting anyone hurt in the process. My last 2 years, I was entrusted with some of the best horses in the barn – that was usually the drill for drivers they trusted to take care of the best teams. Our job was to get them through the summer without getting hurt, and that just takes experience and an active desire to be part of the process. Dennis and Gizmo, CT and Barney, Nellie and Bill – best horses I ever had and wouldn’t have traded them for any of the others. CT and Barney could out-walk every team in the barn, and on more than one occasion walked past a trotting pair of rookie horses. I was so smug on the way by … ;-D

    Lastly, the ASPCA and every other animal protection group out there knows where Mackinac Island is, and that there are a lot of working horses there. The ASPCA had a rep that would sit on the Grand Hill watching every tour buggy go by, and then checking over some of the teams as we stopped at the first rest stop on the way up the hill. They would even go as far as to put an officer on a bike – in plain clothes – and have them follow some buggies around just to see how we treated them when we thought no one was watching. Other groups had toured the barns on multiple occasions and were free to examine any horse they wanted to. There were only a few occasions in my 4 summers that a formal complaint was registered – and in every case, it was due to driver neglect, abuse or inattention. I’m pretty sure an operation as large as Carriage Tours, that has been around in various forms since the first tourists arrived in the 1860’s, would have been shut down if there were any abusive conditions.

    I loved my time on the Island, even the hard parts. The food at the Lenox Hotel where we lived, while not fancy or gourmet, was plentiful, well prepared and cheap. It was a hundred times better than the dorm food I experienced while at Ohio Sate. We worked long hours and typically got a day off every month. But I knew that going in; my older brother, in veterinary school at the time, worked several summers driving horses before my stint. I don’t believe for a second that anyone is abusing those horses, except maybe the folks that come and rent ’em. I urge everyone to look at both our stories as just our singular experiences and the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. I would also urge everyone to visit the Island if you’re able, spend a few days, and make up your own minds. The scenery is spectacular, the history significant, the locals unique. And remember, the horses have the right of way at all times. Please use the sidewalks.

    Thank you for reading!

  11. Joanna Reichert Photography

    As a long-time lover of both Mackinac Island AND horses, this is a really, really sad piece. There’s always a seedy side that ‘regular folk’ don’t see and still, it’s disheartening to see that yes, even Mackinac Island has one. Perhaps you could publish your thoughts to someone in a position of power?

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