"Its not what you take when you leave this world behind you, its what you leave behind you when you go" Randy Travis, from: Three Wooden Crosses
I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I wonder why myself. Those mornings when your old creaky bones complain, the cold ones like today when you have to wash a horses legs to perfection with a hose. The work involved that nobody see's like the 365 days a year when your company partner wants his hay and oats, rain, sleet, snow, and shine just like they always say about the mail service. The heavy physical work of loading, unloading, and moving carriages, scooping poop, and wrangling a wheelbarrow, and cleaning harness.We do it all ourselves.
The trips to the vet, for equine dental exam's, meds, or anything else that might crop up. The farrier ( thats the guy that trims their hooves) we cant forget him, and the touch up trims I do myself in between his visits to keep the hooves as perfect as possible at all times. The handling of semi loads of square bales and nearly 200 rounds every year. When you stop to think for a moment all that is involved it really is a wonder anyone would willingly engage in that level of work.
There are lots of things we give up too. Like vacations, or even overnight trips together. New cars, or just newer cars, nice clothes, or jewelry what wasn't bought from the everything for a dollar store. Oh the woes of having a business who's out go exceeds its incoming, and here I have to laugh a little, you know...so I don't cry.
So why? I am sure you are thinking the same thing I do on occasion. Believe it or not, I can tell you why. The answer is pictured above on this baby boys face over touching one of my horses. The answer is in a brides mother looking at our carriage and saying "The decorations are perfect! how did you know?" Or the joy at a nursing home of listening to a resident tell me about how their family used draft horses to farm all while stroking a soft nose from a wheelchair. The repeat customers who call us back year after year telling us their folks have not stopped talking about the carriage rides since we were there the last time. The delight in a little girls face when all of the sudden it dawns on her that if Cinderella's carriage is a real thing, then Santa Claus and Prince Charming probably are too. The magic in the air after we pick up a brand new bride and groom only seconds after becoming man and wife. The wonderful thank you cards that surprise us in the mail. Even things as simple as the nice things people say about our service on our facebook page. All of these things and much, much, more.
As Randy Travis so eloquently sang " Its not what you take when you leave this world behind you..., but what you leave behind you... when you go"
A couple of times this last week I have had customers question the quoted price for service for their Saturday event. One was a childs birthday party a three hour drive one way from us, and the other a charity event/fund raiser. Both events were Saturday events. Both events were slated for our number one prime time Sat afternoon early evening time slots. We never offer discounts on Saturdays,s and here I am going to explain why.
A Saturday is the day we know we are going to work. Its not uncommon for us to only have one or two events going on through the weekdays, but Saturdays always end up booked. We are reserved at least 44 out of 52 Saturdays each year laying off most of January and February due to the weather spare New Years Eve and Valentines Day.
Our booking procedure involves using a mileage chart and internet mapping program to calculate distance and travel time. It's not all about the extra fuel to get there even though that is a factor its not near as much of an issue as the travel time involved.
So here is the reality of it: On any given Saturday there are really no more than two total five hour slots available in a day. One five hour slot consists of up to one hour of travel, two hours of service, an hour to unload and reload, and an hour back. Now if it takes double the time to get there it changes the whole dynamics of the day. Lets use an example of two hours there, an hour to unload and reload, two hours of service and two hours back. That just turned the event into a seven hour job and it starts becoming real dicey that we can fit in another event that day. So you may find yourself paying a portion of a second slot, or even all of it depending on how far away you are. Your distance literally dictates whether or not we can book another service on that Saturday.
Saturdays are so important to us because they are literally our "pay day" Saturday is the day we know the horses will for sure be working and paying for their upkeep. You see unlike other businesses we have eight two thousand pound employee's that are on the clock 24/7 - 365 days a year. Ok maybe not the "clock" but the feed bill for sure. The round bale you see Clyde our Clydesdale happily enjoying in the picture here costs between $50-$85 for the fertilized, pure bermuda, race horse quality stuff our horses eat, and we go through a couple hundred of them a year. That does not even consider the $800 a month bill for their grain. Besides that there is ongoing farrier work and vet services for routine things like vaccines and dental work.
We here at "The Princess's Carriage" always put our horses first. They are our number one priority. Their care means more to us than anything else, and those Saturday's are the day that ensures we have the finances to provide them everything they need. While we are happy to offer weekday discounts we just can not compromise on those Saturdays. Dear customer I do hope you understand.
Some call it a "Mission Statement" we think of it as our vision for you. You see, we have our idea's about what is ideal. Our good word, our promise to keep, or what you can expect, aka our guarantee. Yes we have things that we guarantee. Some of them are in our contracts and revolve around fair business practices. Still others are not on paper but we take those just as seriously.
I want to discuss the ones that are not on paper since the ones that are you already know. Things like always showing up to your event properly and formally attired. Never any of this street clothes nonsense and we provide this as a normal ( you can take it for granted) part of our service be it a child's birthday party, civic event, or a fancy wedding like the one pictured above.
As goes the custom decorations made to match your events theme, or colors. Anything from theme oriented, school colors, or wedding flowers. Its all part of our "of course we do" service. Special requests are welcome as well and can range from a special gift for a birthday, to a cherished childhood toy left on a carriage seat to remind a bride you loved her first, to a basket of wine and treats for an anniversary ride with your sweetie. What ever you have in your mind we are happy to accommodate you.
You never have to worry about the quality of our carriages as they are the best American made carriages on the market. Nor will you ever have to worry about a thin or unkempt horse that looks like someone yanked him straight from a pasture. Our horses are always fully bathed before an event, they get a pedicure, hair cut, and shave too. None of that shaggy pony look from us!
We show up early, we mean what we say, and we say what we mean. We own every horse and vehicle we have advertised on our website. We don't mislead and we don't imply we have things we don't actually own and have available. What you see is what you get, and we work hard to make sure what you see is clean, professional, and the tip top of the industry. That's our promise to you. We hope you appreciate "Our Vision". :)
2013 is only a little over half way over and so many things have kept us as busy as a bee hive this year. By mid June our brand new Cinderella carriage had arrived (pictured above) and wow were we impressed! Hard to imagine yet fancier still than our 07 model of the same Carriage. Powder coated instead of painted the finish is really, really, nice.
By July we had purchased a third F-350 and now have three rigs rolling. As always new customers, new faces, and new places. Also returning to service our past customers. Once again we will be providing carriages for the Little Rock Air Base Officers Ball, area Nursing home Christmas Events, and Burns Park for the ride through the lights just to name a few.
We even have a few new horses! For our horse loving family that is the best thing ever. The latest two new white Percherons who of course are experienced commercial carriage horses has us up to eight draft horses. July and Aug heat has found us working in the hay fields bringing in over 150 round bales and semi trailer loads of squares.
I share this with you to share a peek into the life of a busy carriage livery. It seems like we are often the famous headless chicken running around just to keep everything moving forward. To think that does not even touch on answering the phone, mailing out contracts, or the daily chores of feeding, watering, grooming and caring for our horses. Busy as a bee hive is putting it mildly. :)
What? ok...better send me some swatches. Sometimes I would like to strangle that gremlin that gives colors strange names. Our first introduction to it was about first grade and when we were looking through a box of 64 crayola crayons. Adding decorations to our carriages to customize the look for our brides I deal with it still on a regular basis.
Add to the complication the fact that colors change hue according to what kind of light you are looking at them in and you have yet one more wrinkle to worry over. Of course I want everything to be perfect and I am surprised how often I am. Even so, you cant help but question your judgement when you get a dicey request like guava and pool blue.
Thankfully this customer sent swatches which I was able to lay directly on the flowers I picked. The guava one with a note saying it needed to be a little darker than the swatch. I hope I got it right. Crossing fingers and toes.
You really have no idea, or maybe you do? of how nice it is to hear back from our customers.While we have amassed a whole page of testimonies to share via our website: http://princesscarriage.com/testimonials.html we never include anyone's full name for privacy reasons. However that is not an issue we have to concern ourselves with when folks post for themselves via our Facebook page.
Recently there was very much appreciated sincere gratitude expressed to me personally by the organizer of our last big job in Mountain Home for the daddy daughter dance at the University. Believe me passing those compliments along went a long way towards putting some joy in our crew's tired and worn out souls. Getting our picture on the front page of the local paper was nice too!
With our customers interacting more and more with us, via social media, and otherwise, we are hearing more often than ever how pleased our customers really are. Not to mention the picture sharing gives us a real glimpse of how we look through someone else's camera lens as well. i.e. we were tickled to see just how well we matched this brides carriage decorations to her bouquet! and we did it all without any swatches!
So dear customer... please keep it up! you give us new drive and dedication with each pat on the back. It means the world to us to hear back from you. It brings smiles big enough to light up rooms. Do know we feel we owe YOU so many, many, thank you's!
This picture was taken in 1987 at a Rose Festival event that was held every year at a huge nursery that shipped plants nationwide. The occupants are the Rose Queen (middle) and her two runner up Rose Princesses, and that's me driving. What I wouldn't give to be that skinny stick shaped girl again! While many things have not, twenty six years later that is one thing that has indeed changed.
The carriage is my own Amish made by Victor Raber from Montgomery Indiana and was the very first commercial carriage that Victor had ever built. His brother Paul had been building them for some years already and Victor wanted to give it a try. He did an awesome job I must say. Both brothers still build carriages today. While admittedly twice the price to buy than the cheaper and more common Canadian imported carriages you just can not compare those to the workmanship of an Amish carriage. The paint, the wheels, the pin stripes done by hand, the construction and their attention to detail is second to none.
All these years later we still only use the very best top of the line American made carriages. Sure they cost us a lot more, but we think you are worth it! In fact we think you are worth a lot of extra effort as well as the extra expense. The Princess's Carriage service just does not cut corners. Not on our horses care, not on our carriages or on our upkeep of them, not on our attire, or our diligent respect for our industry and it's well known accepted safety protocols.
For instance, you will never catch us with passengers in our carriages and no driver or attendant with our horse. To be frank about it, this is one of the biggest safety breaches a carriage company can commit. The fact is you will never see us here at The Princess's Carriage with an unattended horse, period, ever. Common sense would tell most people to do something like that is obviously foolhardy and dangerous without explaining it. However, if you have questions about this unfortunately sometimes observed practice, or anything else you see that you question, I would encourage you to contact CONA (Carriage operators of North America) and ask them about it.
We always provide: Custom silk floral's in your desired colors added to our carriages to make your pictures uniquely yours. Appropriately attired driver and footman. A clean and meticulously detailed carriage, always a shampooed clean horse, and a long standing company always mindful of staying safe. Especially for special events the added expense of a footman as well as a driver adds a layer of safety that just can not be achieved without one. Keep in mind our white horse's are a lot harder to bathe, keep clean, and glowing to add that extra "pow" to your pictures than one that is naturally the color of the ground dirt. While we may not be the cheapest service out there, do know...It's the not so little things that make the big difference.
Strange picture isn't it? Well it's not really if you know what your looking at. This is a test we do to check for proper collar fit for our carriage horses. The rule of thumb, or maybe I should say finger? is just enough room to slide your hand in flat between the horses neck and the collar. In my case about the same distance from finger tip to center knuckle.
Why is that important you might wonder. The fact is that it is very important. Far worse than a little tighter than ideal is too big or loosely fitting collar. If you see a horse wearing a collar that you could stick your whole fist in between his neck and the lower rim of the collar that collar does not fit that horse. A collar that is too large puts pressure in all the wrong places on the horses neck and can even damages important nerves. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that has to be miserable for the horse wearing it.
A condition called Sweeny shoulder is the result of wearing a collar that is too big and/or hauling too heavy of a load combination. It causes atrophy of the large nerve in the shoulder. Sweeny used to be a well known condition when horse and buggy was the way people got around from day to day. Back then folks were faced with the consequences and well knew the pitfalls of a poor fitting harness.
I see a lot of ill fitting harness these days. It seems in today's modern world that only those that care enough to educated themselves about the antique wisdom of proper harness fit seem to know. Just take a gander around the internet at harnessed horses that are wearing collar style harness and you will see for yourself.
We check fit each and every time we harness.We check it even if it is the same exact equipment that horse always wears. Just gaining or losing weight can cause a harness that used to fit nicely no longer fit well. Rest assured that our horses are always closely inspected for proper harness fit and we are very mindful that they are comfortable when wearing their equipment when pulling a carriage for us here at "The Princess's Carriage"
Meet Prince ( on the left) and Pearl ( on the right) our two newest additions to our small herd of seven carriage horses. We now have Prince and Pearl, Duke and Earl, Duchess and Queen, and of course Clyde the Clydesdale.
Prince and Pearl have been together for many years and are now 12-13 years old respectivly. Half siblings they get along like two peas in a pod. They are what is known in the driving world as a "team" of horses. Having a team as opposed to a single horse literally doubles your "horsepower"
We bought Prince and Pearl because at times we needed that extra horsepower. At times for humane reasons we would turn away a job because of a hill, or the need of a larger vehicle that holds more people than one horse should rightfully pull. With them we can now expand our services. Both horses pull equally well as single horses so they are usuable in any way that might arise.
Both horses are highly experienced carriage horses, and a great addition to our program. Perfectly matched in size, color, and stride they are truly a treat to watch working together. Not only does one marvel at how matched they are, one cant help but notice how well they get along and are bonded to one another. It is one of natures mysteries that only animals that have been together for years exhibit so strongly. I hope some of you get the chance to see Prince and his Pearl working together.
Just a quick picture of one of our carriage horses enjoying a romp in his pasture. This is Clyde the Clydesdale and this is his life when he is not pulling a carriage which he only does a few days a week for a few hours at most.
The Princess carriage horses have an easy life, and these days a better job than a lot of people have. Full medical, dental, and hoof care, room, board, and a 24 hour a day hay buffet, plus treats and grain meals daily. To say its the high life for a horse is an understatement. It's really no wonder we often catch our horses jumping for joy!
So much fun! what a great day, always filled with memories for a life time. Quinceanera's the girls often shorten to Quince ( Keen-Say) are as spectacular as it comes. A birthday party extraordinaire a celebration not to be forgotten and yes, so, so, much fun!
This young beauty wore not one but two amazing dresses, one in Lime green and the other a blazing orange. She arrived to the party in our horse drawn carriage that was decorated in both colors to match here theme. Her guests enjoyed food, music ( here I believe she is posing with the Mariachi band) and even had an internationally famous band arrive by tour bus who even played tribal tunes.
Eat, dance, and be happy! Now that is a Happy Happy Birthday!
One of my favorite places to give carriage rides is at nursing homes, and assisted living centers. So many of the people there are so incredibly interesting, not to mention some even have the very unique perspective of remembering when horse drawn vehicles were a part of everyday life. Take my word for it, that makes for some very interesting conversations!
Just this past Friday for an early mothers day present from the facility to the residents South Ridge Village of Conway, Ar. we were in attendance with Clyde our Clydesdale and Cinderella carriage. It's perfect for the job sitting only 6 inches off the ground making for very easy entry.
The first awesome conversation we had was with a gal in a wheelchair that after giving Clyde a kiss on the nose was at just the right height to notice the hubs on the carriage wheels. She promptly explained to me what the entire procedure was on how to re-pack the grease in a carriage wheel. More amazing than that was she was 100% correct! About the time I was wondering how she knew that, she explained that she in her life had greased many a wagons wheels and then remarked about the fact that our wheels were covered in rubber as she had only dealt with steel. WOW!
I was quite surprised at the number of resident's that instantly knew the breed of my horse, which is not nearly always the case with the younger folks. However...the incident that completely dropped my jaw was the 90's something man that walked up, looked Clyde up and down, and promptly said. "So...your Clydesdale here, he wears about a 22 inch collar, is that about right?" As it turns out this fellow was not close, he was perfect! Clyde does indeed wear a 22 inch collar!
To put this into perspective, I have been a professional horse and carriage operator since 1984 and do not trust my eyes well enough to tell anything better than small, medium, or large as far as looking at a collar already sitting on a horses neck, No way I could just glance and have it down exactly to the inch. After a bit more conversation with this amazing fellow I learn he grew up working Draft horses on his families farm. To think, I have had horses for 43 years without interruption yet I truly believe I met a man that has probably forgot more about the working horse than I will ever know.
How incredible is that? I am both humbled and in awe.
Just look at that smile! Dad and daughter having a good time taking a carriage ride at Chick-Fil-A on Cantrell Road, in LR yesterday afternoon. Can you tell which one is having the most fun? I'm not sure I can. No offense to dad, but his little girl is just priceless! Those eyes, that smile, and those dimples say it all. She was having herself a blast with her favorite guy!
Pro-fes-sion-al -1. Following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a professional builder
Or...in other words, they charge for their services, but does that really make them a "Pro"?
Once again sharing my thoughts in an effort to help you reader as we are often a part of weddings and many other special events. I also well know how important a once in a lifetime day is. If your goal is to have a near perfect day with memories captured that will last you a lifetime then who you hire to be a part of that day is going to be one of the most important decisions that you make.
Unfortunately...all services are not created equal, and don't be fooled into thinking that price is the number one thing that matters. Top professionals always cost more than those that are not, and there is good reason for that. As an example of sub standard carriage service I can tell you first hand that I have seen pictures from paying customers weddings where the carriage driver was wearing street clothes complete with a camouflage T shirt and a dog on the carriage. Really? at someone's wedding? I only wish it were not true. Now would you want something like that in your wedding photo's? I highly doubt it. As you can easily predict an outfit such as this does not use top of the line equipment, their horses feed and care is not usually up to par, their safety practices are questionable at best, and well...it is just a slack job all the way around.
This issue was really creeping into the forefront of my mind during the introduction to digital photography class I have recently been taking. Our instructor Matt Dyson of Dyson Photography of Cabot tells me that he has had intro student's that are already set up as business's, advertising, and charging people for their services, and yet they are just getting around to taking his first level beginners class! Even worse is that this has happened on a number of occasions and he has been teaching the classes for a number of years.
Notice in the photo how by using a shallow depth of field and just the right lens Matt created a dream like look to this photo while leaving the gorgeous birthday baby in sharp crisp focus. Matt's prices are very reasonable and quite the bargain considering he is truly a professional. Not only is he someone who is highly versed about the inner workings of the camera, but also all the elements it takes to produce far better than "ok" or "good" pictures, but truly amazing photo's. The number of things that need to be in place for that is just staggering, not to mention hard to do. I had not the first clue about any of that until I took his class. After eight intense hours of instruction and have yet to barely scratch the surface of what I should know just to be a major rookie photographer. Not to mention taking over a hundred shots just to get one decent example of our "homework" assignment each week.
So dear readers my share here is to remind you to sit down and decide what matters most to you. Think about if cutting corners is really worth the imagined savings, and be very careful that you are really getting what you are paying for. For both a very reasonable and totally competent photographer I can with full confidence recommend:
Arkansas's finest horse-drawn carriage service, adding the final touch to special occassions since 1984.
What you will find here
What you will read here will be accounts of horse and carriage services we have provided to customers who's service we found to be: very well done, especially touching, extra fun, highly photogenic, and any other reasons that made their horse drawn carriage experience extraordinary from our point of view.
This is a good place to get ideas for your service, and also to better understand how a horse and carriage adds enchantment to your event. You will read about the ways in which we are incorporated into our clients' special day.
You will also read about our horses at work and at play. You will learn about their individual personalities, what a work day is like for them, and what a day is like for them at our farm.
Visit The Princess's Carriage Web Site for more information about our carriages and horses, and to reserve your carriage today.