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Frequently Asked Questions: Short-Term Boarding

Packing for Your Adventure

Try to pack as light as possible, and then divide your gear into two sets: your things (which will go directly to your hotel) and your horse's things (which will go directly to the barn, and you/your horse must carry directly from the docks to the barn). If you feed Tribute grain, you can buy the grain you need to feed your horse from us, contact one of our team members before leaving to make sure we have enough of the desired grain. 

Plan for your horse to be saddled before riding on the boats, once you arrive to the island everything moves quickly, and you will not have time to saddle upon arrival. 

We have a washer and dryer at the barn for your convenience. 

Your horse's shoeing needs for Mackinac

If your horse is shod, the best shoes you can have while navigating the island is to have bohrium added to the shoes or add pins. If your horse is traveling in the walk-on Star Line ferry, wrap their feet with vet-wrap to give them a bit more traction on the boat ride. I find that about one roll for all four feet does well. 

If your horse is barefoot, I highly suggest investing in some trail boots for their rides here. 

Our roads are cement or packed dirt with gravel, the trails themselves are very kind to the horses' feet, but you must travel on road no matter the trail you are hoping to ride.

Paddocks and turn-out 

Since we don't have much space, short-term boarders can only stay in box stalls. You do have access to our ring for any lunging needs your horse might have, and hand-grazing is allowed anywhere around the barn/paddocks. After hours, and depending on the day, a small grass paddock can be open to observed turn-out. Anytime you are off-property, your horse MUST be in their stalls. 

Daily-Care for your horse

When you arrive to the barn, we will guide you to your stalls so your horse can take a moment to drink water/ munch on hay while we're checking you in. All your equipment will stay next to your horse's stall, but any grain/treats must stay in our feed room (we have a number of small furry friends on the property). Your horse will be fed with our herd every morning at 7am, be given a top-off of hay around noon, and then again between (4:30 and 5:30 pm). If you are off exploring while we feed, our staff will leave their grain in their feed dishes for your convenience. 

To avoid having to handle your horses, we will clean your stalls when you leave for your rides.

Vet/Emergency Horse Needs

Our island has 3 vets on rotation during the season to take care of the horses working and can be easily called to the facility for any medical issues your horse needs. If our staff notices issues with your horse that require emergency medical attention, we will call you before calling our on-call vet. Please note, if you or someone in your party doesn't answer the phone, and we find the medical issue to be emergent, we will contact the vet without your approval. 

We do have a supply of emergency meds on site, but we highly recommend you travel with banamine, bute and dorm gel. 

Closed Trails/Impassable Trails

Generally, the state park does a fabulous job of maintaining all the trails, but with over 70 miles of trails on the island, less traveled trails might have fallen trees or very muddy trails. If our barn staff is aware of a trail with difficult terrain or impassible trails, we will do our best to warn you at your arrival. Prior to your arrival, the State Park has great information on their trails/updated issues any trails might have. Our staff does not frequently check in with the state park, and every trail is ride at your own risk.

Hotel Suggestions/Human Transportation

We currently do not have any sponsorships by hotels on the island. The closest hotels to the facility are Stonecliff Inn and Sunset Condos. Past that, everything else is downtown. 

The easiest way to navigate the island is by bike or walking, horse-drawn taxi is the other option of transportation for yourself, but since we are so far out from main traffic, it can be a struggle to get a taxi ride in the timeline you expect. We understand the struggle of being so far from downtown, and given the nature of the island, we all encourage riders to bring their own bikes, or borrow a bike from our facility. 

As far as restaurant suggestions, downtown offers a night-life unlike anything you would experience during the day. An trip to Mackinac is not complete without a trip to the Pink Pony (grab a rum runner while you're there!), Horn's Bar, Kingston Kitchen or Mary's Bistro, and then please your sweet tooth with one of the MANY fudge shops for fudge, salt water tafffy or ice cream!


Please note, we do not have any sponsorships with any restaurants or hotels on the island, these are merely suggestions our Director has made from experience.

Issues you might not expect...

Bringing your horse to Mackinac Island is something you cannot re-create anywhere else, and that being said, we have our fair share of issues you might run into that you would never expect!

Firstly, everything here is horse/weather dependent. Your boats might need to hold for a delivery running late,  or hold a few hours because the waves are too rough for horses to travel safely. These issues are sometimes predictable that morning, and I highly recommend you call the boat line before you leave the barn to check-in. That said, I have spent many a nap in my truck waiting for a boat. If your horse has trailering issues, a bit of dorm can be very handy in these situations. There are some spaces where you can unload your horse if the boat is running very late, just ask a dock porter and someone almost always help you out. 

Once arriving, a new type of stress is awaiting your horse: downtown. If you are coming through Arnold Freight (the drive-on boat) ask them to take you to British Landing, and you will avoid all downtown hassle. If you are bringing a young/jumpy horse, I highly recommend taking Arnold Freight and saving yourself the headache and stress of the walk-on boat/downtown traffic. Past that, put on your big kid voice, and be prepared to yell "horses coming through" at every bike and pedestrian you come across. Working horses always get the right away, and then your horses, so keep a sharp eye for traffic! Keep your horses in a straight line, and walk with purpose. 

Weather. Is. Exciting. Bring rain gear, and be prepared to have indoor activities in case the weather isn't a balmy sunny day so you can still enjoy the island without riding. Come spring and fall, pack a warm hat and gloves, just in case. 

Overall, be prepared for everything to take much longer than you would expect it to, and plan for the first day to be a travel/settle-in day without much riding involved. Leaving the island is much easier than arriving, but still, allow time into your timelines for things to ... not go according to plan! 

I'm Stressed and have a million more questions!

We here for you! Give us a call and we will chat through all your questions. Another great resource (its new!) is our new facebook page created just for short-term boarders and trail riders who have experienced this already or are about to take on the adventure - check out  Mackinac Island Short-Term Boarders and Trail Riders !

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