Sunday, November 30, 2008

Of Kings and Queens

When a local Arkansas senior citizens retirement home hired The Princess's Carriage to be a part of their royal festivities we jumped at the chance. The staff was amazing and had put together a real afternoon of fantasy for all. Besides carriage rides for over a hundred fully costumed residents, the foyer was adorned with a castle, and the dining room decorated in a medieval theme.

Groups of six at a time boarded our Cinderella for a 10 minute ride that took them around the building where the back drop was a beautiful town park.They were very organized and everyone got to ride. Even residents in wheelchairs and on walkers were helped into the carriage so as not to be left out. Our Cinderella carriage offered the perfect touch to the day’s theme, as well as easy entry as it sits only six inches off the ground. It was a windy day so we had attached the sides of the rain cover for a wind break which you can see in the picture if you look closely.

Besides the fun everyone had riding in The Princess's Carriage the most amazing thing was the number of people that spoke of remembering when a horse and carriage was how folks actually got from one place to another here in Arkansas.

Horses wearing Nike?

Well...not really Nike, but the equine equivalent to tennis shoes. Having been in the horse industry all my life I pride myself on keeping up on new trends, and better ways of doing things that are always being discovered. Theses hoof boots are one of the innovative ideas that I am really impressed with.

While doing princess carriage rides we are usually working in a mixture of public streets, or private property's. Once in awhile when on the road you will come across debris that you would rather your horse not step on. Broken glass is one. Hence why our horses always wear these protective boots when working. Not only do they offer protection they also allow the horse to go barefoot ( without metal horse shoes) when not working which is much healthier for their feet.

Barefoot is a recent trend that has gained popularity with horse owners from all over the world. Barefoot horses receive a special barefoot trim, and/or abrasive hoof trim method utilizing power sanding tools. Coupled with more frequent trims than shod horses, more horses feet these days are being kept healthy, and more natural without the nails required to hold on steel shoes.

Pavement can get hot here in Arkansas, and these boots also provide heat protection, a nice cushion when working on pavement (much like you wearing a good pair of tennis shoes), and are all but invisible in photos. Plus the huge benefit of being able to allow our our carriage horses hooves to be left naturally barefoot when not working. A win, win for everyone concerned. Especially the princess's carriage horses!
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Posed Pictures

I'm always amazed at the beauty of our great Arkansas professional photographers posed pictures. One would think that by taking the spontaneity out of a shot that it would leave the picture feeling fake and posed. This is not the case at all from what I have seen. The pictures that I have had shared with me by some of our clients are incredibly beautiful. They actually reach out and tell you a story. Besides....there are just some things the photographer has no control over at all. Like the genuine smile on this beauty's face as her prince charming kisses her hand in front of the princess's carriage.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where to park?... "The Beast"

One of our biggest dilemmas bringing the princess's carriage service to your Arkansas event is finding a parking spot. We have to have both room to unload as well as turns that are all wide enough to get in, and out of. Our trailer is a total of 38 feet long, and the truck adds about another 10 feet to the problem. We have nick named our horse trailer "The Beast" and believe me it can be a real headache trying to find a place to park it and unload the princess's carriage.

Sometimes we also have to "sneak" so nobody will catch on to the fact that we are there. That always adds yet another interesting wrinkle to the parking dilemma. Just how do you hide something that big? Luckily we have gotten quite good at it. We always drive each and every job in our small car to scope out where we feel is the best place to dock the road yacht we will be driving when we show up to do a horse and carriage event.

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A Very Surprising Valentines Day

She was so surprised she just couldn't believe it! Her hubby of many years had secretly rented us for a very special Valentines Day. We had decorated the princess's carriage with red roses, red feather hearts to symbolize ever lasting love.

He had plans for them to take a long quiet horse drawn carriage ride after a nice dinner at a local Arkansas steakhouse. He whisked off to the the rest room with his cell phone after they were finished with dinner to call us to the door just as they were about to exit.

Out they come, and she instantly gasps " Oh my! look at that! isn't that romantic! there must be some real lucky gal in there tonight" At that exact moment hubby says " there sure is a lucky gal, and shes right here with me" and motioned for her to get on the princess's carriage. She gave him that "quit teasing me " look, and a light smack on the arm. He says, "no... really, its for you!" and she comes right out this time, and tells him to quit messing with her. After the third unsuccessful attempt to convince her, he sat down inside the princess carriage, and one last time motioned her in when she looked up questionably at me.

I said, "yes its for you" before she believed a word of it. What a wonderfully splendid, even if unbelievable surprise for her, and who says chivalry is dead?

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After You, Duke

This shot on the right was taken by me from the driver's seat of the princess's carriage we call "The Cinderella". I had hooked up the team attachment, and took carriage horses Duke and Earl on a relaxing spin down the Arkansas country gravel roads where we live. If you look closely you will notice that Earl's head appears to be slightly behind Duke's. (Earl is on the right)

That's because it is. Earl is no dummy. He has figured out that if he hangs back that Duke does all the actual work pulling the princess's carriage, and he can just walk along and profile without ever breaking a sweat. I swear I could here him politely saying "after you, Duke" in an English accent. Our carriage horse Earl seems to have conveniently forgotten the team part of teamwork. So...whenever I drive the princess's carriage horses together I have to pay close attention to my traces to make sure to remind Mr. Earl to do his part of the pulling.

They are a comical pair. Sometimes Duke gets angry with Earl's laziness and lets him know what he thinks of it with a very grouchy look (if looks could only kill). Even though Duke has a wonderful work ethic, Earl has mastered the art of slacking off. Even so..the two horses really do love each other, and will even eat dinner together out of the same pan. They are true partners, and the best of friends all slacking aside.

Lots of Pretty Angels

This was one of the absolutly funnest Arkanasa weddings we have had the pleasure to be a part of. The mother of the bride who hired the princess's carriage was so happy she was literally bouncing with joy, and full of hugs for everyone (including us). This was her baby girl's big day, and what a grand event she had put together. We brought our horse and carriage in front of the church after the couple was inside preparing for the ceremony.

As we did we watched about 30 of these little girls of all ages dressed in white angel dresses, complete with wings on their backs enter the church. What a sight it must have been inside that church. Let me tell you, this family knew how to wow their guests. Lots of pictures were taken of the princess's carriage with the newlyweds, and our horse Duke even got his picture taken with some of the pretty angels.

Later we got the nicest card from this family thanking us for making their day. Seeing all those pretty angels sure made ours.

Awaiting the Cue

I just love this picture! My footman snapped it while we were waiting for the cue to deliver this bride while we waited on a quiet Arkansas back road on the way to the wedding ceremony. The bride to be took the time to settle her nerves by giving our carriage horse Duke some much appreciated love and petting. Often we are asked to make a grand horse and carriage entrance with the bride exactly on time as the wedding's music starts to play. Since carriage horses don't move very fast pulling a horse drawn carriage we find a close place just out of site, and wait for an exact time on the clock, or a perfectly timed cell phone call for "here comes the bride" and we then deliver the bride in royal style in a princess's carriage.

I never get tired of the delighted faces on the guests when they see the princess's carriage bringing in a beautiful bride. Usually just one person sees it first, and gasps, then a second later all the guests are turned and watching the bride arrive in the horse carriage in utter surprise. This was one such occasion as the guests were all faced the opposite direction of our grand entrance with this bride and her father. Later we took the Arkansas newlyweds away from the ceremony, and to the reception.

A Good Looking Bunch

The photo above is a typical scene for us everywhere we go here in Arkansas. As we are unloading the princess's carriage and getting ready for a job our carriage and horse never cease to draw the attention of all that happen to see it. We always arrive early to harness up our carriage horse, and clean every speck of dust on the princess's carriage that may have been acquired during transport. While this is going on we get visitors. The neighborhood's kids are always sure to come by and ask if they can pet the carriage horse. Its always a pleasure to let the kids pet the velvety soft muzzle of one of our carriage horses. For some of the kids this is the closest they have ever been to a real live horse. We take the opportunity to answer lots of questions and tell the kids a little about our horses, and their lives here on our Arkansas farm.

A Quinceanera

For those that don't know what a Quinceanera is, its the equivalent of a sweet sixteen birthday party for a Hispanic girl thats celebrated on the day she turns fifteen. Its a beautiful event and family's save for years to have a Quinceanera for their beloved daughters. These events are often more planned than a wedding. There is much pomp and circumstance and also lots of beautiful traditions that go along with the festivities. A Quinceanera celebrates a young girl becoming a young woman to the world.

We here at the Princess's Carriage were honored to provide one of our horse and carriage ensembles for a spectacular Quinceanera here in Arkansas. The young men were dressed in white military style suits, and the birthday girl wore an incredibly beautiful dress, and tiara. She truly looked like a princess on her big day. I was awed, and amazed with the gorgeous outfits everyone adorned. A proud stepping carriage horse delivered her in style in the princess's carriage, along with her escorts to the reception hall where the celebration was just getting started.
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Fall Outdoor Wedding at Lake

Last Fall in November we had the pleasure of doing a grand entrance and exit for a bride in a beautiful state park here in Arkansas. The day was spectacular, the fall foliiage in full swing, and the most gorgeous backdrop of mountains, lake, and the clear Arkansas sky glowing a perfect blue.

While the wedding was quite simple with the couple exchanging their vows on a rocky flat area in front of the lake, a trellis, and teak torches flaming, were the only human touches to the scene, for the rest, mother nature provided the most gorgeous backdrop imaginable that only a place as beautiful as Arkansas can provide.

A tear was brought to our eyes as the young daughter of the bride of no more than five years old asked " "Can I call him Daddy now?" as the princess's carriage and horse took the mother, child, new husband ( and daddy) off for their bit of quiet time before the reception.

God was truely smiling down on this young couple that day.

I was able to snap a few photos with my inexpensive camera which some of which are shared in the wedding photos in the gallery section of the princess's carriage website.

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