This is a good sign.

It's an annual Rite of Spring! Each year hundreds of horses arrive by the ferry load as the island prepares for the upcoming tourist season-- which is practically here!

Each spring up to 600 Percheron and Belgian draft, Hackney, and grade horses are transported each year from the Pickford area in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to the famously automobile-free island.

Mackinac Island Horses
Detroit Free Press via YouTube

Where Do They Winter?

You may be wondering whether or not the horses stay on the island during the off-season and the answer is: some do.

It's actually easier to move the horses back to the mainland, rather than constantly braving the choppy wintery waters of the Great Lakes to transport feed to the island so most of the horses return to the Pickford area during the off-season months.

However, it's necessary that a few horses remain on the island during the winter so 16-18 horses typically remain to transport freight and transport residents throughout the off-season.

Mackinac Island Horses
Detroit Free Press via YouTube

Hey, they've got to get those Amazon packages somehow, right?

What Do the Horses Do?

In addition to collecting mail, delivering goods and packages, and essentially hauling anything that can't be carried on a bike, the horses act as a taxi service to guests, tourist groups, and even residents during the busy months.

The horses typically work 6-8 hour days as carriage horses or 2-6 hours as saddle horses.

Mackinac Island Horses
Detroit Free Press via YouTube

How Much Is A Ride?

A horse drawn taxi ride on Mackinac Island can range from $7-$9.50 per person depending on your destination. Unlike the typical taxi cabs we are familiar with, these horse drawn taxis cannot be hailed and instead you must call dispatch to schedule your ride.

If you wish to schedule a private carriage tour of the island, a tour with Gough Carriages starts at $180 per hour for a group of up to 4 people. You can even rent and drive your own carriage or rent a horse too! More details here.

Where Does All The Manure Go?

All those horses have to make a mess, right? The official Mackinac Island website says,

Mackinac Island streets are cleaned continuously, with workers using water to flush the streets after hours.

The poop or, ahem "road apples" are then scooped up and dumped into a wheel cart by the carriage tour employees. The manure is then composted by the City of Mackinac Island. Phew!

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