Prince, a handsome, 2,000 pound Belgian-Percheron cross draft horse, is an equine employee of Old South Carriage Company, and was recently named “Equine Employee of the Month.” This honor earns the horse a massage from a licensed massage therapist and rights to the best stall at the 5,000 square foot barn on Anson Street. Prince agreed to tell us a little about himself and his work with the help of his human friend and boss, Derek Evenhouse, the General Manager of Old South Carriage Company.
I’ve been working with Old South Carriage Company for some time now – I am not sure how many seasons have passed, but Derek tells me I’m 14 human years old. I’m a working horse – every day I look forward to helping Derek and meeting the people who tour the city in my carriage. As a young colt, I was trained to work in the fields of Ohio’s Amish farms. Eventually, I traded in my plow for a carriage and moved to Charleston. Draft horses like me need work to do or some type of exercise every day – it protects our health, and like other working animals, gives us purpose. Most humans I meet feel the same way! My life is never boring. Some days I work, and some days I stay at the farm on John’s Island. Work days are my favorite. I meet nice humans, dogs, other horses, and kids who give me lots of affection – I especially love the children who ride in my carriage. And I know to be very gentle. Just last week, a little girl petted my nose when I leaned down to say hello. Her laughter made me so happy I raised my head and laughed a little too.
I have lots of friends at Old South, both human and equine. Last night I spent the evening on the farm, and I woke early to head downtown for work. Derek helps me get ready – I have to look sharp for our customers! After I was washed, groomed, and tacked-up, I began my first tour. After an hour of walking through the city, while my human partner/tour guide laughed and talked to our customers, I pulled the carriage back into the barn and took a break to have a drink of water and rest a few minutes before my next tour. I only get to work four or five hours today – the rest of the day I get to hang out with my friends at the barn downtown.
Well, they’re saying it’s time for me to go back to work my next tour – I hope I drive past White Point Gardens and have lots of children this time! Please come by and see me while you’re in Charleston.
Prince is a great horse – and one of 30 owned by Old South Carriage Company. All of our employees are highly trained to work with horses, and we also have a veterinarian on call 24/7. Every morning, we take each horse’s temperature before they start work. A horse’s temperature is one of the best indicators of daily health. Throughout the day, after each tour, every horse has his temperature taken and recorded. If a horse has a rise in temperature, we will pull him from duty for the day or until he returns to a normal temp and health signs. If the ambient temperature rises to 95 degrees, or a 110 degree heat index, we stop all carriage tours. It’s the law in Charleston, but not one carriage company here would put their horses at risk in extreme heat anyways. There has never been a heat related incident with a horse in Charleston.
The City of Charleston has strict regulations regarding the care of all carriage horses, and I’m proud that Old South not only meets, but exceeds these guidelines. All of our employees are highly trained – and they love horses. Our horses are athletes in peak condition and receive the highest level of care possible. People think horses are happier left in a pasture all day with nothing to do, but that’s just not true. Our horses are all draft horses and were bred to work. Our stables at 14 Anson Street can house 10 horses, and we own 30. We trailer the horses in from our 65 acre farm, Sugah Cain, each morning and take some back each night. Our horses work no more than 200 days a year – most quite a bit less. The other days are spent at the farm on John’s Island, where they get to hang out in grassy fields, and enjoy additional attention from our full time farm staff.
I know some people worry about a horse pulling a heavy carriage through the streets of Charleston, but, actually, most of us could pull a carriage ourselves. The carriages have large wheels that make keeping momentum easy, and it takes about 150 pounds of force to get the carriage rolling and about 50-60 pounds of force to keep it moving through the streets. For a 2000 pound draft horse, this level of work is minimal. Is it work? Yes. Do they sweat? Yes, all horses in the lowcountry should be sweating on hot days to thermo-regulate – our working horses get the additional luxury of hourly temperature monitoring, shade, fans, free choice water, and rinse downs as often as needed. All the horses we employ are more than capable of any of the work asked of them and have constant care and love from our staff during every hour of their day.
We invite anyone interested to visit our downtown stables and take a tour. You’ll see horses on break, drinking water in front of large fans, horses resting in stalls, enjoying a nibble of specially grown hay or formulated feed or just relaxing with their friends.
Old South Carriage Company offers carriage tours daily. Visit www.oldsouthcarriage.com or call 843-723-9712 for more information. All Charleston area carriage companies have the same high quality of care and respect for the gentle giants you see walking the streets of the Holy City. Take a carriage tour and make a memory
you’ll never forget!