I had the good fortune last week to work with some of the people who manage the equine program at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Tri-Circle-D Ranch – one of the first buildings erected when Walt Disney World was originally opened.

About the Horses
There are currently 79 horses at two locations on the massive Walt Disney World campus. Both barns are near the Magic Kingdom location and there is a diverse mix of horses there who are split into two disctinct groups. One set is made up of the large draft horse breeds like Clydesdales and Belgians. They are used principally for pulling carriages around the Main Street area – always at a walk and mostly on blacktop roads.

Some of the staff at Tri-Circle-D Ranch talk about the transition strategy.

The other set is made up of trail horses, mostly of quarter horse descent, with the odd Arabian and warmblood mix thrown in for color or height variety. Their job is to keep the guests entertained on five or six 45-minute trail rides per day. A smaller group of ponies give trail rides around the former petting zoo, which now provides a set of spacious paddocks for the little guys.

This location is where the trail rides start from. The shade was very welcome.

The horses are all in exceptionally good weight and health and the facitilies are meticulously maintained by a cheery group. The public – called ‘guests’ – are free to wander around the facilities. I was very impressed by the willingness of the staff to answer questions and share their love for what they do.

Impressive, isn’t it, to think about implementing change at such a large institution?

EasyCare and Exclusivity
As you can probably imagine, I wasn’t just there to see what it is like at the happiest place on earth. I was there because Tri-Circle-D Ranch is transitioning their horse teams over to a barefoot/booted program and EasyCare will be the exclusive boot provider for their program.

Discussing the journey ahead.

An Impressive Approach

I flew down to Orlando to coordinate a visit there during the two days their barefoot hoofcare practitioner was pulling shoes from some of the horses – and trimming others who are already weeks or months into their barefoot transition. They brought in their vet so we could talk about the relevance of diet in the transition process, and it also gave us a chance to study x-rays of some of the horses’ feet so the trims could be modified accordingly.

Some of these draft horses are unbelievably tall – we put a stick to one guy and it was not even big enough to get an accurate measurement. That means he was probably 18h3. It was fascinating to see these big hooves get trimmed – and to get a first hand understanding of the challenges they face. It is a humid climate with soft, wet ground for most of the year, and the hooves are definitely soft-country feet. One of the contributors to success for Walt Disney World will be the amount of work each of their horses is responsible for, which means every horse has a job and every horse is on a strictly monitored work program. This will help speed the transition process.

One of several pastures around the facility.

Those are Some Big Feet

We selected Easyboot Epics for their draft carriage horses – they will be using a combination of size 6 and size 7 for those horses. The trail horses will be using Easyboot Gloves – with the exception of Minnie, a draft horse cross, who will be parading down the trail in her size 4 Easyboot Epics.

All eyes are on the transition project down in Orlando – if this initial phase goes well, Walt Disney World in California will be our next stop. Please join us in wishing the entire team in Orlando the very best of luck in this bold move forward.

Question for the Post

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, do you remember the name of the carriage pulled by six grey miniature horses?

Keep up the bootlegging!

Kevin Myers