Sign of Spring: Horses return to Mackinac Island

Courtesy of Carriage ToursEvery winter, Mackinac Island’s horses are moved to the mainland, where it is cheaper to feed them during the tourism off-season. And every spring, the horses make their triumphant return to the island.

But this year, it has been more difficult than usual to get them back to Mackinac Island.

First, things were complicated by ice cover left over from our seemingly never-ending winter. Then, the ferry that normally transports the horses, owned by Arnold Line, was out of service.

That’s when Dale Peterson, Barn Manager at Carriage Tours, had to get creative.

“This year, we’re ending up having to put the truck and trailer on a barge and bringing the barge over to the island and then walking them from the barge to the barn, it takes a lot more time,” Peterson said.

Peterson says he’s been involved transferring the horses back and forth from the island for 32 years, and this has been one of the more challenging winters.

But crews have been working hard to get the island ready for the tourist season. Peterson says the lake is now clear of ice, and the traditional passenger ferries are up and running.