Every Carriage Driver Wants You to Know This Before Visiting Mackinac Island
Currently, I live on Mackinac Island, Michigan, driving horses on a carriage tour.
There are some things all of us drivers wish you knew before you got here.
You Do NOT Have Right of Way
I know this is a difficult thing for many Americans to accept, but on Mackinac, pedestrians don't have Right of Way.
Any horse has Right of Way over bicyclists and pedestrians. A horse and cart? Right of Way over a saddle horse. Any horse pulling any type of carriage has Right of Way over that. All horses pulling carriages or carts uphill get to go before anyone else, too.
Maybe it would be a bit easier for you to remember if you knew why.
Pedestrians and cyclists are far more mobile and able to change course more quickly than a horse and carriage. Forcing a horse to start and stop quickly when they're pulling a load is incredibly stressful and difficult for them. If a horse has to stop on a hill? Oh, man, starting again can be nearly impossible, if its on the wrong part of a hill. If you say you love or care about animals at all, get the fuck out of the way.
Plus, horses are unpredictable at the best of times. Put them in a situation where people are bulling past, acting like there isn't a 2,000 pound creature designed by nature to frighten easily? Disaster.
2. Yellow Markings are Not Where You can Park Your Bicycle
Those yellow markings that usually mean No Parking for cars? Yeah, they mean No Parking for bikes. Those are places for horses to pause, unload passengers, wait to load, get water, or are a safe space so their drivers can hop off for a quick toilet break.
Seriously, we wouldn't mind taking out every. Single. Bicycle. In those areas, except we might hurt our horses.
Don't park your bikes there.
3. Do NOT Stand in the Middle of the Road!
Just like anywhere else, you can't stop and stand in the middle of the bloody road! There are bicyclists and freaking horses who use that road. You're turning yourself into a hazard, and if you get hit, it's not our fault.
4. Use the Flipping Sidewalks, People
Yes, I know it's crowded, but guess what? At least on a sidewalk, you're not nearly being run over by my horses.
We go and shout at people to get off the road, and they act like we're rude?! Dude, we're trying to keep you from getting run over, or kicked. Move your freaking ass!
5. Don't Play Chicken with My Horses
Oh yes! Many times now, people have watched my horses pulling a bloody carriage up a hill, and move over to let us pass...but they leave it till the last minute to get that final bit out of the way.
Don't play chicken with my horses. You will LOSE.
6. The Michigan Equine Activity Liability Act
It's a real thing. It means that if a horse kicks, bites, or kills you, I am not responsible. The Act states that the horse is responsible, but personally, I think it should be thought of as 'self inflicted'. Like, if you didn't want the horse to kick you, you shouldn't have done whatever it was you did.
'Stupidity on the part of the human' should also be a legal explanation for why you got your ass handed to you.
This list will probably grow as I think of more things, or when I talk to the other drivers. Keep an eye on it.
If you're ever inclined to support the arts, consider becoming a part of my Patreon community. Depending on the tier you select, there will be newsletters, personal Q&A's, and sneak peeks at works in progress.