Y’know, I never thought about the horses of Disneyland… where are they stabled? Who trains them?
(Answer: They were stabled behind Disneyland but that space is being used for a new ride…)
…Well… this month, Disneyland opened up a brand new barn and training stable for their horses in Norco, CA.
First, I watched this video about the new property:
HMMMM… HOW DO THEY TRAIN THEM?….
I started looking around on how they train the horses at Disneyland and I found this series on “Duke”. Duke is so cute!
First, they teach him respect. Then basic moves… long lining, pulling a cart, NOISE… lots and lots of noise.
What I found interesting is that they said when the trainers are training the horses to noise (balloons, music, drums, kids, screaming, fireworks, ride noise, characters in large suits…), they teach the horses that when all this is happening, it is their time to let down and relax.
Here is the video of basic training…
And then Duke is ready for his first day on the job! I have to tell you, I was jealous… looking at Disneyland with NO PEOPLE as Duke trains…
And here is the video of Duke’s first day in the park!
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE HORSES AT DISNEYLAND…
So I looked up videos on the Circle D Ranch… and found this very historical video saying that Walt Disney had horses at the Disneyland site before he had rides!
(Warning: the video is not high quality – but it is interesting.)
NOW THE DISNEYLAND HORSES HAVE A NEW HOME IN NORCO, CA!
I found this article from the Orange County Register, about the brand new home for the 18 Disneyland horses!
When the equines on the front of the Horse-Drawn Streetcars finish their three to four days a week working at Disneyland, they get to go home to their new digs in Norco.
“It’s big and comfortable here. The horses love it,” said Jennifer Gable, stage manager at the ranch.
The Circle D Ranch, as it is called, was in the northwest section of Disneyland’s backstage (what Disneyland calls areas its visitors cannot see), behind the berm that hid it from view. But plans called for using that space as part of the new 14-acre “Star Wars” land now under construction.
After a two-year search, a 5 1/4 acre property was found in Norco suitable for Disney’s and the horses’ needs. The property was purchased from a trust owned by the DeRuyter family. It was a chicken egg ranch and a Christmas Tree farm in its history. It included the house, which has been converted into offices for the ranch hands.
The new ranch, that opened in June 2017, is bigger than the old one by nearly 2 acres, giving the horses and trainers plenty of room.
“Each horse gets its own private stall in our new barn, including their own private outdoor section,” Gable said.
The barn has 20 stalls, room for more horses, as Disneyland owns 18 horses. Besides the stalls, there is a harness room – where each horse’s harness hangs when not in use at the ranch or at Disneyland on the Streetcars.
“The harnesses are individually fitted to each horse,” Gable said.
The harness room also holds harnesses used for weddings, or for pulling other wagons at special events like parades in Norco. One of those wagons is the original, now restored, Stagecoach used in the original attraction of the same name at the park in the 1950s.
While at the ranch, and at Disneyland, their diet is carefully controlled. They get two different types of hay and a variety of grains. They are fed through a device that makes the horses eat as if they’re in the field, and cannot just gorge themselves.
Veterinarians monitor their diet, and check the horses regularly, including their weight that can reach nearly 2,000 pounds for some.
The horses also get regular baths, and their stalls are cleaned on a daily basis.
“Some of the horses are really neat and do their duty in one corner. Others are pretty messy,” said Gable.
There are two large corrals (turnouts) where the horses get to spend 2-3 hours a day just hanging out with other horses – weather permitting.
“We don’t do any training with them while they’re in there, it’s just a chance for them to just be a horse,” said Gable.
But the horses also undergo training at the ranch; for the more experienced horses, it’s a refresher course. For the younger horses, this is where their training begins.
That training starts with pulling a cart, and getting them accustomed to the noises at Disneyland. Leigha Beck, a trainer at the rancch, said they use a variety of things including drums and tambourines to make all kinds of noise.
“We even do a lot of clapping and jumping around the horse, just like what might happen at Disneyland,” Beck said.
The horses have a regular schedule posted in the stables, listing their training and their shifts at Disneyland.
When it’s a horse’s turn to work at the park, it is loaded into a special trailer and transported to the park – about a 45-minute drive. While at Disneyland, they stay in a barn behind New Orleans Square, when not working their three-hour shift on Main Street U.S.A. The ones that have been working at the park are then put in the trailers and returned to the ranch.
There are five different types of large horses stabled at the ranch and used at Disneyland including Percherons, Belgians, Brabants, Shires and Clydesdales.