Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Year in Review - 2014

We started the year early with wedding, engagements, birthday parties, and...

She said yes!

The girls love feeling special with dad at the church sponsored daddy daughter dances. :) 

and of course birthdays are better when you get to feel like a total princess! 

Before the weather got warm we showed our support for our fellow operators during the corporate events we were servicing in early spring. 

More weddings with our different carriages

and a new partnership with our very own Cinderella, Miss Amanda Cross! 

From Conway cuties, to local nursing homes...

Our horses got love and attention from both young and old. :) 

and then those jobs where you try not to cry...

Like, Relay for Life.. 

..and Make a Wish.

More beautiful brides

 we wisk away in the night.

 Custom decorations for a glorious sight

Some weddings for friends

 so much fun

Loved the bright colors Rita! 

We had some interesting themed weddings

Like this one that was East Asian 

Arkansas Angels and the others that always have us back :)

again and again...

and in the middle of it all a brand new horse

 to expand our horses that can work in teams

Princess Bonnie and Count Clyde working together

and of course our Prince and his Pearl

and a project that started in Spring

and did not end until fall

and rainbow Unicorns... 

that can do it all!

 With weddings way north

and others way south 

and Parties for Princesses everywhere in between

with sugar and spice

and everything nice.

Then lots of daycares with Santa

where he





I guess since hes Santa he can do that.

And then after dark we had the rides in Burns Park.

Family Fun

Cozy Couples

Group rides where you meet new friends

The End...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

There are reasons for rules- part 2 in the series FYI ( for your information)

I want you to look at this picture. This photo is of a horse in a fast extended trot. As you can see easily here that there is a moment in this gait where not so much as a single foot is touching the ground. A millisecond later one foot will touch and the opposite foot diagonally will also, and then as those two leave the ground again the opposite diagonals will make contact rear foot landing first.

Besides that, at the pace this horse is going he wont be able to keep this up for more than a few minutes without getting winded. Once his respiration is fast soon after sweating will commence. In that respect their bodies work just like ours do. Note that this horse is pulling a light weight two wheeled cart over grass on what appears to be a perfectly flat surface so the owner is operating in a reasonably safe and humane a way. 

Lets change this scenario to pavement, and a thousand pound carriage hooked to this horse, with four to eight hundred pounds of passengers plus the weight of the driver. Now lets throw in a not so perfectly flat road. Now lets assume this will be repeated every 20-30 minutes for a period of approximately 3 to 4 hours for a distance of 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. 

Now lets visit what is wrong with that compared to the photo above. 

First off I probably don't really need to tell you that anytime a horse is moving fast enough to have all four feet in suspension he is at far more risk of a possible stumble and fall that he is at a flat footed walk. Thats pretty elementary. Should the horse above stumble and fall in the grass he has a very good chance of recovering from that fall injury free. On the pavement that chance is exactly the opposite. Chances are on payment the horse is going to suffer at least nasty scratches, likely bloody road rash, and at worst permanent injury to his knee joints. 

Now lets visit some other big differences. This horse is pulling a light weight cart. The added effort to pull it is as little as the harnessed horse enjoys. When we add a commercial carriage onto the horse we have a whole different story. The weight of the carriage alone is at about four times the weight of one of these, then throw in two to four passengers and a driver and now you have doubled that to eight to ten times heavier. Throw in a few inclines and now you have physics adding insult to injury. Lastly the difference of a whole commercial "shift" of doing this verses being "taken for a spin" as the horse's owner above was no doubt doing. 

So now you have an idea why just about every major city that has horse drawn carriage rides on their city street have rules and regulations on how the horses can be worked, how many hours, and at what speeds, just to name a few. At least the ones that have their stuff together have comprehensive ordinances. For instance in New York city the horses well being is covered in over 140 rules and regulations. Most major cities follow CONA ( Carriage Operators of North America) guidelines, and the ones that don't frankly should. CONA contends that commercial carriage horses should be worked at a walk, and never faster than a slow trot. *note: the slow trotting is usually for a very short distance for the purpose of getting through a traffic light. Never are commercial carriage horses to be trotted in the manner above. 

I probably don't have to point out that most people that want to take a carriage ride aren't doing so to get it over with as fast as possible and most people feel bad boarding the carriage with a profusely sweating horse with his flanks heaving trying to catch it's breath. At least the ones that care enough to notice do. Worked at a walk this isn't even an issue. Thats why the industry standard guidelines are what they are. If you see an outfit that is ignoring these horse friendly common sense guidelines (for whatever their motive's may be) they are probably not the ones you want to patronize.     

Monday, October 13, 2014

FYI- The real cost of doing business the right way. What customers need to know.

This post is one of a series we will be doing titled FYI. (for your information)

 What I have found in most cases between those that do it right and those that don't is that all too often the cost of your service will be the same. However... what your getting for that price rarely is. While they say that imitation is the purest form of flattery, for those of us that incur the cost to play by the rules it is at least disheartening to find yourself competing with some neighbor down your road who's winging it. For you the customer the potential for problems with that can be much more than just disheartening. So with that said I am going to give you some things to consider.

What you need to know.

1) Do they have liability insurance is probably the number one thing you need to be concerned about should you find yourself considering hiring anyone for horse drawn carriage service. The equine liability laws in no way protect you, your event, or your venue in the event of an accident. Posting it does not protect the uninsured provider from lawsuit either. What posting that sign usually means is that the carriage service does not carry liability insurance and thinks that by posting that sign they are exempt from lawsuit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Equine liability laws only protect a horse owner if a horse causes harm to someone in the act of being a horse. i.e. kicking, biting, pawing, bucking, etc, and that is only in cases where there was no known prior history of misbehavior. The law presumes that if you get near a horse you should understand that these things could possibly happen and that there is a level of inherent risk from being near, or getting on the animal. The sign is to make sure you understand that.

However...lots of things can happen that could cause loss, damage, or injury and do not in any way absolve the carriage service of being responsible for it. In fact a great many things that have contributed to accidents are not even remotely related to what is covered by state equine liability laws. Some examples would be, broken tack resulting in an accident, a horse or its carriage causing damage to someones property, a person getting hurt by a carriage wheel, a motorist hitting the carriage, etc. The list of things that state equine liability laws do not cover is truly endless. Put it this way, there is lot more they don't address than what they do.

So what does all this mean to you the customer? What it means is that if you hire an outfit that does not carry the proper liability insurance, and heaven forbid something were to happen, you are left high and dry without much recourse for losses, damages, doctor, or hospital bills. Without liability insurance your only hope lies with the civil court which is a long drawn out procedure where very often the injured party never recovers a dime. What it means for the people who are operating a business without insurance is that they literally risk losing everything they own.

Now before I scare you half to death here the solution is really simple. ASK! and then ask for a copy of the liability policy! We have stacks of proof of insurance available for anyone who asks and we are delighted to provide you with a copy. While we have operated for over 30 years in horse and carriage without a single incident, that really is not the point. Accidents can happen to anyone and to do any business the right way the outfit you hire should be properly insured. So check, if they refuse, or it offends them? your shopping in the wrong place.

2) Are they even a legal business? You may or may not think you should care about this, but ask yourself this, If they skip over the legal requirements to be in business what other important things do they willfully overlook? Liability insurance maybe? Safe equipment? Safe proven horses? and that list too goes on. It is after all law that they file with the Sec of State as a legal business, You can check that status here : http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/corps/search_all.php , just type in the name of the company and if they are legit their name will show up. If you search "The Princess's Carriage" you will see we are listed and properly filed with the SOS as a legal business in good standing.

Besides the yearly fees to maintain the legal right to do business in the state with the proper authorities there are also the fees of a yearly business license that also has to be paid for. There are even costs for special permits for us to operate in certain towns legally. It quite literally costs thousands of dollars to do this business professionally, properly insured, and legally.

So please understand the cost to us of being in full compliance is no joking matter. So dear customer do know that it is in your best interest to know who your hiring. Ask for proof of insurance, and at least check to see if they are operating their business legally. Find out if they have the permits they need. It's quite literally the difference between hiring a legitimate business, or a monkey business.          

Sunday, July 13, 2014

We just never get tired of...

While the lions share of our business is weddings we also do children's parties and events. One cant help but to get a kick out of their faces and reactions when they first catch sight of Cinderella's carriage showing up just for them and their friends. From babies to teens kids just have the greatest time and are so much fun! Imagine the smile on my face when I snapped the shot of this precious little ladies reaction as our horse and carriage came into view.

Or this group of girls. Dad had them hiding behind the garage door with their eyes closed and raised it for a fantastic surprise they never in a million years expected! Cinderellas carriage and a gorgeous white horse waiting to take them on a fun filled ride around their neighborhood.

Or this little angel that insisted on thanking our horse Duke for coming to her party and giving her and her friends rides. A heartfelt thank you that of course had to include a quick kiss planted on his soft muzzle.

How about the smile on this little guys face? He was ear to ear grins as long as dad would let him touch Duke but dare dad take a step away the frowns and tears would fly. Soon as dad would step back the smile returned and the tears dried up. He wasn't talking much yet, but communicating quite effectively regardless.

Or these inner city kids who got their first up close and personal experience with a horse. As you can see by their smiles that they were truly delighted. I'm not going to deny that Duke really enjoys the attention as well.  In closing dear reader these are just a few of the many pictures I have been able to snap when I have had the chance. I hope they give you an idea of the joy we bring to the faces of the children we get to meet. Its something we just never get tired of.