Where and how are the Mackinaw Island horses in the winter? The Pride of Mackinaw Island – treated like gold”? Or the “Shame of Mackinaw Island” left in the cold? You be the judge – U.P. Breaking only poses the questions

Mackinaw Island Horses – They are hot attractions in the summer – but are they left out in the cold in the winter? You decide!

When is it too cold?  What does the winter wind have to be? What does the January temp have to be – to say enough is enough?


We are posing questions about the care of the horses that make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for the rich folks at Mackinaw Island – Are They Surviving? Are They Thriving? Can better conditions be afforded for these money makers??

“The doors are open so you can see inside of them it is 9 degrees out with and chill is -16 they have no trees they have stumps and very little in the field.”

“No shelter absolutely no protection the ‘barns’ are full of hay and machinery the doors are open so you can see inside of them.”


By Greg Peterson
U.P. Breaking News
Owner, News Director / 1-906-273-2433

Editor’s Note – We think these are very serious questions – and hope that the officials from the carriage tours, the farm and the Mackinac County human society type folks will respond. We are easy to reach.

(Mackinac Island/Mackinaw Island, Michigan) – Seems few can agree on the exact temperature a horse should be put inside rather than be exposed to the double digit below zero temps and even colder wind chills of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s coldest months

When is it too cold to keep horses, dogs and other animals outside during the frozen days of January and February in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?  U.P. Breaking News posed that question to the public – and besides sarcasm – the most responses seemed to be in favor of horses being left outside in the coldest winter months – but only if they have an indoor place to escape the brutal winds.

It seems to be a question of whether a horse is merely surviving or is actually comfortable in the U.P. outdoors during the worst months of winter.  Some say that human emotions can not be placed on dogs and horses in the winter – as some “prefer” to be outside – and do better outside.

U.P. Breaking News wonders if those on Mackinac Island associated with the horses can afford to provide even better conditions for its prized horses that make a fortune for the Island.

2017-mackinac-horses-jan-2017-3Our sources say that the farm caring for the horses is doing the bare minimum – if  that – some say they are warned in advance about inspections.

Since we have not been able to reach the Mackinaw Island big wigs – we presume they will say we are nuts.

In an effort to bend over backwards to be fair, U.P. Breaking News is issuing a blanket denial for all those involved with Mackinac island horses (meaning the horses are treated well – maybe fantastic – and this topic is not an issue) – We issue the denial on their behalf until we hear from them.

You see, they already do not like this reporter on Mackinac Island – because back in the day – while working at TV6 – several of us were invited to a writer’s conference on the Island.

I had the unmitigated gall to question the treatment of the workers – at least then paid less than minimum wage – with questionable housing quarters.
These summer employees are shipped in from the poor islands in the warmer climates – but many are dressed like the old south.

If you own this farm – please contact U.P. Breaking News – that goes for the same for Mackinac islands officials – call us. You are welcome to make a response and/or write your own opinion editorial. U.P. Breaking News wants to hear from Island officials, carriage tours officials, farm officials, and those who police this kind of thing in Mackinac and Chippewa counties.

U.P. Breaking News has been contacted by U.P. residents who say they are opposed to the way Mackinaw island horses are treated during the winter – while revered during the summer at the island that is like the Antebellum South (like one of those old Disney cartoons from way back) and popular with Michigan’s richest residents.

2017-mackinac-horses-jan-2017-1Whether you call it “Mackinac Island” or “Mackinaw Island” – it is a place that can truly claim to be “someplace special” – like no other in the Upper Peninsula where the poverty and unemployment rate have reached staggering proportions – and even people are freezing to death in the cold.

There was a time when our forefathers migrated to the U.P. – when people had the guts to question things. Not sure much of that spirit exists. What do you think Yoopers? Our sources say U.P. residents do not want to ask questions – but some newcomers are shocked at some of the realities of the U.P. compared to how this area has been viewed elsewhere.

One sources said that many U.P. residents are looking for “someone who is willing to ask questions without a negative effect on us or our children.” Well, U.P. Breaking News is broaching this and other questions never before asked by the media.

One example provided to U.P. Breaking News is a farm on 15 Mile Road in Barbaeu, MI.

“It is a house with 2 large pole barns used for storage. In the mass fields sprawling behind it, are about 80% of Mackinac islands horses,” sources say

The following photographs – was provided by several sources – the photos with snow were just taken – and the others in the fall of 2015


“This place has been investigated, with (forewarning) notice, allowing the owners to move the machinery out if the barns, put the horses in the barns and they pass,” The reality is however, these horses don not have shelter. Of any kind.”

This despite “recent wind storm, recent ice storm, and recent drop in temperatures,” a source says.

“Perhaps you could bring this to the public eye. Have a light shed to let visitors” of Mackinac island just “knew these horses are not on ‘vacation.” But merely trying to survive their elements.”

“They are not relaxing, or even have blankets. They are knee deep in their feces, mid, and snow, huddling, trying to not die.”

The photos from the fall of 2015 “show their fields, and the three out buildings.”

“Even if they used the outbuildings for the horses, it big enough for the amount they have.

“As you can see, no leantos, no nothing,” our sources said.

“We think its important to know, that the price each tourist pays for carriage rides, and carriage tours,.”

The profits “clearly does not go towards the horses well being, but into the company’s pocket.

“These horses are mascots for Mackinac Island, and are continuously highlighted in all publishing, commercials and other public media, however are not taken care of,” sources asks and tells U.P Breaking News.


The most recent photos – January 2017 – show the horses outside in a “wind chill of -7.” and “again with no shelter.”

“One horse trough for water. No shelter absolutely no protection the barns are full of hay and machinery.”

“The doors are open so you can see inside of them it is 9 degrees out with and chill is -16 they have no trees they have at stumps and very little in the field.”

“No shelter absolutely no protection the ‘barns’ are full of hay and machinery the doors are open so you can see inside of them.”

“Yet it is 9 degrees out side with a wind chill of -16.”

“They have no trees all they have a stumps and very little hay.”

“These horses are owned by Mackinaw Carriage Tours and the farm who is supposed to be taken care of them is Atkins farms”

“Their coat is isn’t the issue here … the issue is, they have NO shelter, no windscreen, no blankets, no lean-toes.”

We “just want people to know that carriage tours” make a lot of money for the Mackinaw Island – hundreds of thousands of dollars annually just from rider fees.


Scroll down to see public comment when we posed question on Facebook:

Related info:

Just surviving or comfortable (from google search)?
How do horses tolerate the cold?

In the absence of wind and moisture, horses tolerate temperatures at or slightly below 0°F. If horses have access to a shelter, they can tolerate temperatures as low as -40°F. However, horses are most comfortable at temperatures between 18 and 59°F, depending on their hair coat.









U.P. Breaking News Mackinac Island Horses – and all U.P. horses – Advisory/Expose – when is it cruelty – what temp?
When we publish these photos – we want to include experts on the topic – are you one?
1-5-17 1 p.m. ET Mackinac shows off horses in the summer and leaves them outside in below zero weather in winter – why why??
We will be publishing the photos today or tomorrow – as we are working on numerous other new stories at this hour.
U.P. Breaking News wants experts to tell us – when is it too cold for horses to be outside?
Same for other animals like dogs
It seems there is no law that exactly says when it is cruel to leave animals outside. You see they show off these horses in the summer – and throw them to elements in the winter. We will be showing some shocking photos from two years of this.

Responses included:

Angela Kiviniemi – Horses can stay outside in the winter. As long as they’re being fed, the water isn’t frozen over, and they haven’t been shaved. They actually grow a winter coat that keeps them warm during inclement weather. All it took was Google for me to find out this information.

Message · 12 · January 5 at 1:40pm

Ed Nephler – Wow, reporting that horses stay outside in the winter. Really? You call that news? lol Damn! They are different than dogs, most are draft horses and use to being outside all the time. They grow heavy coats for protection. It’s no wonder why you have been fired from most your jobs…all you do is hype bullshit.

Message · 6 · January 5 at 2:59pm · Edited

Brant G Haynes – They stay outside here in Alaska as well. Maybe this dude needs to bone up on his equine studies.

Message · 3 · January 5 at 3:46pm

Rebecca Oberstar – horses can still get frostbite in winter. They should have some sort of windbreak.

January 5 at 11:08pm

Amanda Rose – There are at least 3 huge barns on the island that stay well stocked. The island also has 4 full time vets there year round as opposed to one human doctor year round.

Message · 13 hrs


Sarah Toutant – There is literally ice on her eyelashes and she is still warm. You have to understand the coats a horse has to understand It is not cruel. Also, they will shelf themselves from the wind by going into a shelter,trees,or by standing closely to one another. I promise you if these horses are fed,this isn’t abuse.

Message · 5 · January 5 at 5:54pm


Rodney Riesland There he goes again reporting on something he has no idea about and without doing basic research. Just trying to stir up some DRAMA!

Sarah Toutant – Horses stay outside year round. Their hair acts an insulation. They eat all day because it helps keep them warm. Most get blanketed but not all need it.
They don’t shave the horses on the island, they get very fuzzy.
Horses that are shaved usually go…See More – (Go to our News/Personal FB pages)

January 5 at 5:51pm

Christine Corp Arbib Just like all news reporting. When there is nothing, you have to make something up. You have to be kidding or apologize on this one. Should the horses be sent to FL or brought in the house? Seriously – I want to know what your solution is. Think I will let you go. It’s just gotten tabloid ridiculous.

January 5 at 2:25pm · Edited

Christine Corp Arbib On second thought I think I’ll stick around to see what asinine “news” you will next be reporting.

January 5 at 2:21pm

Natalie Irene Christine Corp Arbib Provides good entertainment

January 5 at 4:33pm

Jane Rogers Shocking photos of horses outside in the winter? They grow under coats that keep them warm in the winter, in extreme temperatures owners will put blankets on them or try to keep them in barns.

Do your shocking photos include these horses next to the…See More (Go to our news/personal FB pages to read more)

20 hrs

Karen Waite:

Message · 6 · Yesterday at 5:18am

Mary Nichole Where did you get that info. They ship most of the horses off the island in the winter. And they have coats/ blankets for the horses in the winter.

January 5 at 2:38pm

Mary Nichole – Here is a pic of some of the horses leaving the island. They only keep about 15 there in the winter.

January 5 at 3:07pm


Bobbi Jo – Do you people know how to say anything nice ever? Same bitchers all the time. Must be your life’s journey. Sad

January 5 at 5:36pm

Tony Kulie – I smell award winning Journalism on this one!

Message · January 5 at 3:36pm · Edited

Judy Hutnik Bonello – The horses are sent to a farm in the U. P. where they are fed, etc. Who runs this site!?!?

8 hrs

Nathan Larsh Google. – Use it.

January 5 at 2:28pm

Kami Batho – Hmmm…I guess we should bring the cows in as wel

Pamela Ekdahl – Heifers no. Cows yes. You will not get milk production from a cow left outside vs one kept in

Message · 14 hrs

Amanda Rose – Chickens, pigs, goats…. They all need their own rooms too

Also posted the question on my personal Facebook page and received these comments:

Tod Poirier – Animals are adapted better to survive cold weather than we are. Just because you or I are cold doesn’t mean the animals are suffering. If the animals have some sort of shelter they can use to get out of the elements they’re typically fine – a windbre…See More

January 5 at 1:18pm

Dean M Dove – Horses and other animals eat hay, Hay will keep them warm from the inside out.We put hay on a side walk to keep the warm so it can harden. It keeps them warm and with the thick skin they have.The hide of an animal was made to keep them warm, that’s why we make Coats out of the hide.

January 5 at 10:17pm

Alicia Guiliani Diane Peppler – do you have any input? Tammy Collins?

January 5 at 1:27pm

Greg John Peterson – Thank you Tod Poirier – That is the info I am trying to find out – when should horses be required to be inside? I am not an expert. I can react more as a sympathetic human – like telling people take a blanket and spend a night in your dog’s outdoor house. See if ya like it? It is more of a gut reaction.

January 5 at 1:29pm

Greg John Peterson Wish that Dr. Pol guy could tell us. My girlfriend loves that show. I have watched it a few times.

January 5 at 1:30pm

Greg John Peterson Tod Poirier Sounds like the human emotion versus reality are two different things – certain animals (dogs) are better adapted than others. I can not help but feel for a horse standing outside in below zero weather – but maybe that is truly OK and not …See More

1 · January 5 at 1:34pm

Tod Poirier I haven’t.
I think a person should provide an animal with some kind of shelter, but most animals have survived in the wild long before we got to them.

January 5 at 1:36pm

Sadie Mae – Cold Weather Tips for Horse Owners


Cold Weather Tips for Horse Owners

Here are six important tips to help owners keep horses healthy and safe during the cold days of winter.



January 5 at 1:40pm

Sadie Mae – In the absence of wind and moisture, horses tolerate temperatures at or slightly below 0°F. If horses have access to a shelter, they can tolerate temperatures as low as -40°F. However, horses are most comfortable at temperatures between 18 and 59°F, depending on their hair coat.

January 5 at 1:41pm

Linnea Kelly Danielle Sawyers I bet you’d have something to say about this.

January 5 at 1:43pm

Kylie Gearhart – Now it’s been a while since I have been to mackinaw island but I recall taking a carriage tour and they showed us the winter stables. I’m pretty sure they aren’t just left out in the winter. And it’s not like they are alone all winter there are people on the island that would take them out and let them in.

January 5 at 1:58pm

Patti Ness My horses are outside during the day and stabled at night. They have quality hay all day. Everyone is fine. If it’s excessively brutal, the come in early and get extra hay. I have winter blankets for them but rarely need them. My senior stallion (29 yr…See More

January 5 at 2:15pm

Alicia Guiliani – I was just going to ask how can you tell if they are cold lol, I didn’t know they shiver. Do their hooves protect them from the cold ground?

January 5 at 3:02pm

Patti Ness – Yes their hooves do a good job 🙂

January 5 at 3:47pm

Danielle Sawyers – Our horses are outside during the day and in the barn at night during the winter months. Some nights we have to catch them as they don’t want to come in. Some horses prefer being outside. From experience it needs to be consistent, they can’t be brought in once and a while then left out again as they will get sick. They can adapt to weather conditions easily. We don’t use blankets because of sweating issues, as that leads to other problems. Some breeds of horses get very thick winter coats and would not do well in a barn all night. Horses in the wild adapt to the changing seasons and survive some brutal winters.

January 5 at 2:41pm

John R. Manninen – K WHAT NEXT ?? IS IT TO COLD FOR WHITETAIL DEER? I can understand how people feel, as I also do for animals. But where does reasoning and common scense fit it. WHAT NEXT Rabbits, birds ??

January 5 at 9:45pm

Jill L. Fries – Depends on the breed but I had horses for several years in Marquette County. They had a shelter to block the wind but even on the coldest days and I would check on them several times a day they were always plenty warm

January 5 at 9:56pm

Anthony Fortunato – Most of the horses used are not on the island in the winter they winter in farms downstate and some in the U.P.



28 thoughts on “Where and how are the Mackinaw Island horses in the winter? The Pride of Mackinaw Island – treated like gold”? Or the “Shame of Mackinaw Island” left in the cold? You be the judge – U.P. Breaking only poses the questions

  1. These are my neighbors and this email is terrible. Atkins feed all day, horse are fat and sassy. You should tell the person that sent these photos in that they need to get some equine care education.


    On Jan 7, 2017 10:10 AM, “Upper Peninsula Breaking News by Greg Peterson” wrote:

    > yoopernewsman posted: “Mackinaw Island Horses – They are hot attractions > in the summer – but are they left out in the cold in the winter? You > decide! When is it too cold? What does the winter wind have to be? What > does the January temp have to be – to say enough is enough? W” >


    • show us all the pohotos over the years of these horses inside their nice cozy barns at this farm – where are the photos/ Give us as many as you can. – you would think loving horse owners have a lot of photos of the horses warm in the winter inside a barn over the year especially famous horses. Makes me wonder – how about you?


  2. Total bullshit, on the farms behalf they need shelter at some point just as any living being. They do get frost bitten after a certain point as well. I have worked and lived with horses all my life and they need to have access to some form of shelter. I am also very familiar with the carriage tours of mackinac island, once they have made their money for the season, they could give a damn about the horses


  3. We have horses and they have trees for pasture protection, they hay plenty of hay and if it is 10-below zero without wind, they are only out for a little bit. They are animals and whether people think they should be out or not, the animal control makes farms have shelter and they also make you have so many acres for so many animals. I live out this way, sorry I do believe for the money they make to house they can provide leant osep at least, how about some more water through some. The horses have no blankets. Their pasture does have limits and they do have alot of stumps.
    I have been on the tours and the workers make remarks like ” they go to Barbeau and Pickford and drink beer and eat pasties all winter.” Which is not the case. I wish they would have more shelter.


    • We hear there is corruption over your way – why are they not providing a lot of photos of these horses all happy and warm in their great accommodations? Seems odd to me. Seems like they would want to show everyone how well these horses are cared for – please share share. If not one has to wonder why.


  4. Our horses have been cared for since 1973 within 5-7 miles of this location, in this time we have never lost a horse to cold/inclement weather. Also no one attempted to contact me on this story. We provide 5500-6000 round bales a year weighing approx 1100lbs each, also they have a combination salt and mineral station, this particular farm has two heated water stations, also a back barn that the horses can access, and to the west of the stumps is a wind break in the form of woods, both of these the horses do not normally go into, they stay by the feed piles and eat…normally when you publish an article you actually report facts, like st ignace news did when they contacted the farm owners and actually reported. Our farm crew does an excellent job taking care of our animals. James Chambers


    • So – why don’t you provide us with photos of the Mackinac horses in a nice warm barn. This isn’t about you – its about the Mackinac horses – but glad you are responsible. Please show us the great accommodations at this farm that has the Mackinac Horses – there are no photos so them snug as a bug in a rug in these barns you speak of – all cozy and such.


      • We are not talking about you – are we? Do you care for Mackinac horses? Not even sure what you are talking about – plus asking questions is not liable – wow why do you think its about you?


      • I thought it was the Atkins Farm – or is it you – please explain because your message was confusing (really not sure what you mean unless you care for the Mackinac horses).


      • You would think a journalist would know facts and actually who or what he is doing a story on, nice witch hunt, Google st ignace news for some info on horse wintering articles and stay classy


      • Why is asking for photos of the famous Mackinacx hor5se enjoying their winter digs – a barn or whatever – and even photos from recent winters – they must have them Why not show them and put this to rest – we’d love to see the wonderful barn and happy horses – really.


  5. I would love to see the qualifications of the people questioning the care. Maybe report the whole story with actual facts, quotations, and qualified sources instead of giving incomplete and highly inconsistent information. This reads worse than a middle school book report.


    • So are the horses still out in the cold today ? What qualifications do you need to ask questions? Seems like that was what our forefathers believed in – even if we are beholding whimps today.


  6. This article is possibly one of the worst written articles I have EVER read. I don’t understand why anyone would even take it seriously when the author can’t manage to spell Mackinac Island or Barbeau properly.

    You ask for photo confirmation of the horses in their barns? Who are you to request such a thing?! The only people that have the RIGHT to question the care of these animals is the staff at the Chippewa County Animal Control Shelter. I assure you, the shelter manager will have much more knowledge on the subject of horses than you, the author of a poorly written article without sources or proof of mistreatment.


    • I woulds loike to hear from these folks – do you represent them U.P.Breaking News has been a big financial supporter of UPAWS – that actively investigates complaints of mistreated horses, dogs and other animals. Just would like to see all the probe info into farm – when – what was said – what was found if anything? Are there photos of the horses today warm in the barn (we will published if provided – cause I am told horse lovers take photos) – how about photos of Mackinac horses in barn during the past few winters? Just asking.


      • Shouldn’t you know who represents the company that you are slandering? You’re assuming, that because of my last name in my email that I represent the company? You’re very wrong on that. Do some actual research and get the facts the next time you decide you want to write a sad excuse for an article.
        Asking for photos, like the farmers and company owe you some kind of explanation, is ridiculous. Those people owe you nothing. Your opinion does not matter because you aren’t a professional or an expert on horses. There’s never been any investigation done on the farm because there has never been a reason for it. Those horses are very well cared for. Period.


      • We are not slandering anbody just asking very simple question – and for the public who is concerned – they could have put it to rest on day one. But y’all choose to continue the debate. It’s like how dare the public ask about the winter conditions for the famous horses than bring tons of money to the Island. Please – you’d think they’d be proud to show us how great these horses are treated and shut up the critics. Hmmmm?


      • From what I’ve read not only on your website but also on your Facebook page, “the public” is not concerned – no one believes this ridiculous article has any truth to it. Seems to me that your 1.8 out of 5 rating on Facebook tells the real story.
        No one is debating anything here. The company does show off how well they take care of their horses by having them in an area where people, such as yourself, can drive by and take photos. I see healthy, happy horses in those photos not cold, deprived ones.


      • Well – prove us wrong then – and yes we got contactedby several concerns citizens – ie the photos from two yeasr we published – still looking for the wonderful stale photos of the Mackinac horses in their wonderful stables – in fact these famous horses should have numerous photos of them inside out of the elements. Just no one seems to want to share them. Why all the venom? We are only asking a question – hmmm?


      • Plus the obviously overly angry and wild comments are usually the ones we expose or have contacts in U.P. media who look like fools – well at least clueless – maybe not fools because they probably do not care – but we think the media does a great job on feature stories – and we will provide the breaking news for a while. We will likely retire (or expand) – once the public understands how much they are treated like mushrooms by the bought off media. I am not afraid to show these folks for who they are with the unusually venomis react – never giving exact things – just blanket statements they can not back up. The old ‘given ‘enough rope’ theory and they always prove my point. Its great. Sorry you feel nobody should dare question the horse winter conditions. A few photo would put it to rest. Imagine the unmitigated gall to even ask the question – ‘eh? Wow have some yoopers gone soft – where’s the pioneer spirit of your forefathers like mine had in the U.P.? But we ask and you react.


  7. It’s it’s one thing to be a responsible journalist and actually do research and post a factual article but quite frankly, this article is garbage. Giving people actual facts backed by actual evidence and telling them “to be the judge” is what journalism is actually about. This is nothing but someones opinion on something they obviously have no background in and very clearly did not research which makes it irrelevant and a joke of an article.


    • Why are people so angry – just show us – the photos of these beloved horses in their beautiful winter digs – and put the critics to rest. These are famous horses like the Clydesdales. I can’t imagine what would be so awful about them sending some photos so critics know that the horses are loved. Why the fuss? Just show us. No biggie right? They must have tons of photo of the Mackinac horses happy in their barn during these frigid winter months – paaleeze – show us conditions today and all would be said and done. Easy right? They could prove the critics won’t – right? What’s the big deal then? Hmmmm? These are world renown horses – so the public has every right to inquire. This should be simple – right?


      • I would assume the answer to your question would be because they don’t owe you pictures of the horses “cozy in the barn.” They are doing nothing wrong therefore, owe you no explanation. Your fifth grade taunting obviously has no affect on them because it’s an irrelevant opinion and you’re not a professional on horses. I’m sure they would be more than happy to answer questions to someone who wasn’t slandering them. I know journalism has sunk pretty low over the years, but damn. The blatant immaturity and lack of professionalism in not only this article but your responses to the comments is astonishing.


      • They do not owe me anything – its the public that is concerned – especially since these are famous horses. But reacting like this – faux offended so we won’t show you – won’t do public trust any favors. Just saying – you’d think they’d be proud of the conditions.


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