Drive It Yourself Horse Carriage Tour on Mackinac Island

Whether you’re a horse lover or just a backseat driver who yearns for control, you may want to experience a Drive It Yourself Carriage tour of Mackinac Island.

You might already know that Mackinac Island is where the horse is king. As a car-free island, horses are a main form of transportation. In fact, one of the first sounds you’ll hear when arriving at the Mackinac Island ferry dock is the clip-clop of horse hooves.

What many people don’t know is that you can drive your own horse and buggy on Mackinac Island! While taking a public tour of Mackinac Island by horse-drawn carriage is perhaps the most popular visitor activity, Jack’s Livery Stable on Mackinac Island offers Drive Your Own Buggies for two or four passengers with extended sizes available by contacting Jack’s Livery directly.

Mackinac Island’s drive-it-yourself horse drawn carriage rides don’t require any experience or familiarity with horses.

Things to Know About Driving a Horse and Buggy on Mackinac Island

“This is something for people with prior experience,” you may be thinking. But no! No matter your familiarity with horse-riding, you can participate in this activity.

Before you begin your Drive It Yourself horse and buggy ride, you’ll fill out a short questionnaire to assess your driving skills. It’s important to answer honestly – remember, you won’t be turned away for lack of experience. This questionnaire helps staff match you with the right horse. Additionally, you’ll receive a brief rundown and instruction before you’re off and away exploring Mackinac Island on your own.

First-timers will feel plenty comfortable driving their own buggy. Not only does the quick lesson help, but it will be a well-trained, knowledgeable horse pulling the buggy. They already know the route and the commands.

Before you depart on a Mackinac Island drive-it-yourself carriage ride, livery guides will give you a quick lesson.

Commands for a Drive It Yourself Horse Carriage on Mackinac Island

Here are the basic commands: Saying “giddy up” with a slap of the reins instructs the horse to move forward; pulling the right line tells them to go right (and left line for left); pulling back on both lines while saying “whoa” will get the horse to stop.

The driving instructions are easy to follow and always shared by the stable hands prior to your ride. Your quick lesson ensures you have them mastered before you go off on your own.

Just like driving a car, there are also rules of the road to follow. Rules are provided for your safety, pedestrians’ safety, and, of course, the horse’s safety. These rules include no U-turns, steering wide around corners, never leaving the horse unattended, all passengers remaining seated while in motion, and others. All the rules are clearly covered before your ride.

Mackinac Island offers the opportunity for drive-it-yourself horse drawn carriage rides along miles of wooded trails.

Where to Drive Your Own Horse and Buggy on Mackinac Island

As for where you’ll explore, there are designated routes to choose from based on ride duration. Besides the downtown area, driving your own horse and buggy can bring you to many popular spots such as Mackinac Island State Park’s Arch Rock and British Landing.

It should also be noted that reservations for a Drive It Yourself Horse Carriage ride are only taken one day in advance, and you can stop in at any time during hours of operation for same-day rentals.

Take the reins and put the fun, relaxing experience of a Mackinac Island carriage ride in your own hands. It adds a new layer to what is such a memorable experience. Many visitors afterward feel connected to their horse and will always remember them as part of the experience itself. It gives you a first-hand glimpse of the bond that Mackinac Island stable hands have with the horses, and what makes them such special animals.


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