What Does it Take to be a Carriage Driver on Mackinac Island?

A behind the Scenes Look at the Training Process for Carriage Drivers with Mackinac Island Carriage Tours

If you’re not riding a bike around Mackinac Island chances are you’re taking a horse-drawn carriage! Have you ever thought who is behind the reigns? Some of these drivers are retired, some students and some are just looking for a fun seasonal adventure!

Mackinac Island Carriage Tours employs around 250 humans and over 350 horses — keeping the island up and trotting all summer long.

Joe Hersher, a trainer with Mackinac Island Carriage Tours says that when looking to hire someone they look for one thing they can’t teach — personality.

” I can’t train personality so you need to whip it on! You might be an introvert but you need to whip it on and be an extrovert on the tour,” says Joe Hersher.

The rest however can be taught. From going around tight turns, learning how to go down hill or how to impress locals and visitors with your knowledge of the island, there is a lot to learn in little time.

The whole training process takes about two weeks so these trainees are out on the road from the very start learning the do’s and don’ts of this one of a kind job!

Malachi Shanks says, “I’ve only worked with animals very minimally before I came here so I learned everything from proper horse care – grooming, brushing all the way to harnessing and bridling all the way to hooking up a carriage all the way to the driving of the carriage.”

If you are looking to catch a ride on the island or learn to drive yourself, click here. 

 

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