'Douglas Bay Trammers'...

Clydesdale and Shire horses, pure and crossbred, are well suited to pulling horse trams with their immense power, large round feet and generally good temperament. There are more than twenty-five of these and other draught horses presently with the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway.
 
 
The Tramway Stables, established by Thomas Lightfoot in 1877, are located off Queen's Promenade at the junction with Summer Hill.

Colloquially known as 'trammers', the draught horses also attend agricultural shows and compete in horse shows and ploughing matches on the Island.
 
 
Historically, the majority of tram horses were purchased by the Tramway from Ireland, a mix of cob and farm breeds, old enough to put in harness after brief training and with a working life of perhaps eight years before being sold on to local farms or re-exported.
 
A mare called Polly, bought from Ireland, had presented the then operator Douglas Corporation with a foal named Ramsey in 1966. Due to significant cost rises for good horses in the early 1970's, the Corporation decided to commence its own breeding programme, the first foal being born in 1974.

The breeding programme continued through until the 1990's. Mark & Robert who retired at the end of the 2017 season were the last in-service 'trammers' to be bred by the Corporation.
 
 
The 'Trammers' typically retire from service at an average age of 20, moving up to the IOM Home of Rest for Old Horses.

From the late 1990's until 2018, the tram horses were purchased mainly from the Garff - Ballafayle Stud near Ramsey and have been either of Clydesdale or Shire horse breeds.
 
 
Recently we have seen the re-introduction of cob-cross breeds and horses being purchased from the UK, and a new in-house breeding programme is being trialled by the Tramway with its Clydesdale mares and a young Welsh Cob stallion Thor, the first foals being born in 2020 - Emma to Ginger and Hector to Mary.
 
 
The current 'trammers' are Alec, Andrew, Bobby, Chloe, Douglas, Harry, Keith, Kewin, Nelson, Torrin & WilliamThe tallest is Andrew, the heaviest is Alec, the fastest is Kewin, the youngest is Nelson.

Horses to continue training as future 'trammers' include mares Annie, Blae, Dixie, Elodie, Ginger, Mary, Erin, Zeba & Maggie, geldings Duke & Jackson, and the stallion Thor.


Tram Horse Gallery (2016-19 Seasons) ...
 


Rare Breeds on parade!
 
 
Robin, Bobby, Torrin & Harry at the 2015 Royal Manx Agricultural Show.

Working roles for heavy draught horses not only helps to maintain health and fitness, it forms an important part of their breed conservation. 

Clydesdales remain on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust watchlist as a 'vulnerable' breed whilst Shires, although greater in number, are still considered an 'at risk' breed. There are only about 700 registered breeding Clydesdale mares left in the British Isles.

For further information about Clydesdale and Shire horse breeds, call in to the Tramway Stables to view the information panels and speak to the staff.

You can also visit the Clydesdale Horse Society and the Shire Horse Society websites.


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