Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's not what you take.

"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  (that is 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 always seems to exceed its incoming, and here I have to laugh a little, you 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, so... 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"    

Friday, October 4, 2013

Saturday service - Let me explain

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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Vision

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". :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Busy as a bee hive

  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. :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Guava and Pool Blue.

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.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

We owe so many thank you's!

This fabulous picture was shared with us from a recent client and her very talented Samantha Daniels of: Along with this picture came a very nice private e-mail about how delighted they were with our services. We have been getting a lot of that lately, especially with the easy access people have to feedback via our own facebook page:

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: 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!

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's the not so little things that make a big difference.

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.    

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why it's important- The Harnessed Horse

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"    

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Prince and his Pearl

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.