When you ride with Melbourne Classic Carriages, you will marvel at the power and nobility of our horses. Calm and serene, our horses are at home in the city environment - this is what they have been bred and trained to do.
Our breed of choice for pulling carriages is the Percheron crossed with Standardbred horses, due to their strength, temperament and intelligence.
Unfazed by crowds and city traffic, our draught horses have been bred specifically for this kind of work. We have thousands of years of breeding to thank for their innate ability to interact with humans in an urban environment.
Our first Percherons came from Queensland in 1987, when they weren't yet available in Victoria. Soon after, we developed a longstanding relationship with a King Island breeder who has bred all our horses for the last 30 years.
But most of all, our horses are treated with respect and dignity. Each horse is unique, with its own temperament and personality. Understanding these is a big part of the work that we do.
Our horses work Thursdays through to Mondays for a total of between 20 and 32 hours per week.
On average they will work 4-8 hours in one day with regular rest breaks, and are regularly rotated back to our farm for rest or "spelling" time. When they aren't on the farm, their nights are spent in sheltered inner-city yards with access to hay and fresh water.
You will often see our horses "catnapping" on the street during a rest period—this is typical horse behaviour as, unlike humans, horses do not require long, deep periods of sleep.
The care of our horses' hooves is also critical to their wellbeing and ability to work in a city environment. At a weight of 600-700kg, horses need to walk comfortably and without discomfort on a hard surface. To achieve this, all four feet must be balanced correctly to suit the particular stance and movement of that horse.
Our horses are shod every six weeks at our farm by an experienced equestrian farrier, using the best quality European shoes. This meticulous process of trimming and filing takes up to 1.5 hours per horse.
We use a special weld on our shoes to give the best possible grip on road bitumen. This prevents slipping and sliding and uneven wear.
Horse and cart was once the only means of transport in this cosmopolitan city, and today provides the perfect leisurely pace for taking in all that Melbourne has to offer.
In the 1800s, horses were used to transport passengers, pull trams and unload cargo off ships at South Wharf for delivery to warehouses along Flinders Street.
Our horses share 100 acres of farmland in the Macedon Ranges, approximately 70km north-west of Melbourne. This is where they spend the majority of their rest or "spelling" time.
The journey from our farm to Melbourne is approximately one hour - a journey that each horse takes twice a week. They are regularly rotated back to the farm, where they enjoy the very best quality hay (also grown on our farm), oats and feed supplements.
Our beautiful landau and vis-à-vis carriages are also built and maintained at Chases lane Farm.