Introducing our amazing team

Left to right: Finniss, Norman, Archer, Elliot (eating of course), Jay Jay (with Isabella’s rear end poking up behind), Murray, Albert, Leo and Scotty

The Victor Harbor Horse Drawn Tram would be nothing with out these superstars! Each of our horses is an absolute delight and a treasure. The human team at the Horse Tram are very proud of the next-level care that they are able to give the horses, and are always searching for ways to make it even better. The horses health, happiness and welfare is the highest priority that we have here at the Tram.

What do our horses eat?

Our horse team have a fantastic breakfast of quality chaff, several scoops of a premium brand of pellet, and to this staff add minerals and supplements especially designed to; keep horses hooves healthy, grow strong bones, produce shiny coats and dapples, maintain healthy gut flora, meet all of their nutritional and dietary needs and to put a spring into their step. The horses all get lucerne hay for breakfast and dinner.

Left to right – Elliot, Archer, Scotty (tucked in behind), Leo, Jay Jay, Albert, Murray, Norman and Finniss

Our horses have access to good grazing all year round. The horses live in large paddocks, spread over three adjacent properties, and can be rotated as needed, to ensure that they always have good pasture to graze upon. A horse can spend up to 18 hours a day grazing and their bodies are designed to always have food passing through, so grazing is really important!

Oh, and they eat carrots – lots of carrots!

How can one horse pull a big heavy tram?

Karni, now retired, returning from Granite Island

It’s true – our trams are really big and really heavy! Even though our horses are really big horses, they are still much smaller than a tram. So, how do the tram horses do it?

It has a lot to do with physics. Believe it or not, the initial brake weight is only 80kg. After getting the tram rolling, movement is mainly just from momentum, meaning that the horses don’t have to do much at all. If a tram horse had to pick a tram up, they would never be able to do. A fully loaded tram weighs around 5 tonne, but because it’s on wheels it is similar to when we might use a trolley or a wheel barrow. But even that might still be hard to do.

That is why the tram has metal wheels and is on railway line. This metal on metal design removes the friction that you get from normal wheels, and allows the tram to roll and glide along easily once in motion. This is the same reason why a train engine is able to pull so many heavy carriages, that sometimes seem to stretch for miles. This design means that even the smallest, human staff member in our junior program is able to get a fully loaded tram rolling.

Getting going is the hardest part and takes around an 80kg tug, pull or push. Once a tram is moving it rolls along almost by itself, and only needing an occasional small pull, of around 10 or 15kg’s, to keep it moving. Our horses weigh nearly a tonne, so all they need to do is lean lightly on their collar to start a tram moving. Once moving a tram is often just rolling along behind a tram horse and there is no weight on the horse at all apart from an occasional tug. It can roll for ages like that, and a lot of the time the tram driver is using a bit of brake to keep the tram from catching up to the horse. On windy days the horses all get the day off, but a gentle breeze can have the tram free rolling the entire length of the Causeway. So that is how our tram horses easily do it!

How often do our tram horses work?

The Victor Harbor Horse Tram horses don’t work every day, not even close! Usually our tram horses will work either a morning or afternoon shift once every three days, just enough exercise to keep them fit. This is why our tram horses love pulling the tram. They are always keen in the mornings to come into the office when it is their turn. They seem to really enjoy their work, so much so that a tram driver might often be asking them to slow down and be a little less enthusiastic, especially Isabella and Scotty. They love to show what they can do! Albert is also well known for ignoring his human team member and to jog jauntily for the entire trip.

Morning beach ride for Jay Jay and Albert

In between runs, the horses get a 10 to 20 minute break while tickets are sold and passengers board. While waiting, they get to lap up all of the love and attention that visitors to the tram lavish upon them, as well a drink and a few carrot chunks. They appreciate the extra feeds the staff give them when they are at the office and they always start their day with some beach time and a splash.

In the summer school holidays the horses do work more often, as two trams are frequently running to and from Granite Island. They also do get a few extra days off though, with the warmer weather that the Summer brings. As our team steadily grows in size there are many more hooves to make light work.

What other care do the tram horses get?

Our tram horses get the very best of care. They see the farrier every 5 weeks to have their hoof care done. The have regular massages with an Equine Myofunctional Therapist. The have regular veterinary care and an thorough check up each year. In fact this year our vet awarded our whole team of tram horses a five star rating for health and fitness! We have a dedicated horse husbandry team to ensure that all of our horses receive the care and attention that they deserve.

Murray, Elliot, Isabella and Albert, enjoying a splash in the ocean

We love our horses to get a lot variety. They don’t just pull trams. Our horses get long rides on the beach and they enjoying having a splash in the ocean. Our young horses get the opportunity to join in the fun too, being led by a horse and rider. They also do harness work and training at the paddock, sometimes pulling tyres and logs, or just having some light long reining. They get a lot of down time too, to simply graze, enjoy their herd, and just be a horse.

A hot summer day in Victor Harbor means a lazy day for our horses. Green grass and loads of shade!

Introducing Norman and Finniss. These 10 year old brothers have joined our Horse Tram team and we couldn’t be more pleased!