How to Find and Choose a Horse Carriage Company:
A wedding or special event is a performance and the horse and driver are performers. Just like dancers or a band or a DJ. The worst thing that can happen is the horse drawn carriage puts on an unorganized and poorly executed performance.
The only way to ensure you get a good performance from a wedding carriage or at your special event is to do your homework.
Here are some tips to help you:
When choosing a company to provide a horse drawn carriage, remember these are not machines and you're not just paying for the horse and carriage, but the services of the driver and footman as well.
You need to make sure the horse carriage company isn't using employees with little or no experience, or they have just went out and bought a horse and carriage and decided to start giving rides.
This is supposed to be a special day and you don't want anything going wrong. When it comes to horses and weddings in general, without the proper experience, training and preparation things can go terribly wrong.
Remember, if you choose to include a horse drawn carriage at your wedding or special event, this vendor, like the band, can make or break the event.
When it comes to price, if you have more than one operator in your area they should all be pretty close. But don't go by price alone. This, next to the music, is one of the highest profile items at your event so it doesn't always pay to go for the cheapest bid. But, just because they are more expensive doesn't always mean they're better either.
Do your research, and I can promise you that adding a horse drawn carriage to your wedding or special event will be one of the best and most memorable experiences you will ever have.
Finding a horse carriage:
You have already started at the right place, the Internet. Use search engines, go to wedding, party sites and CONA. (We have provided links on our special event help page)
If you still can't find a horse carriage in your area, get out the phone book and start calling large animal veterinarians in your area.(Even if the large animal vets in your town don't know of one, keep calling surrounding areas, if there is a small carriage operator out there, his horses have to go to a vet somewhere.)
Before you choose a Horse Drawn Carriage Company:
Most horse carriage operators do this because they love it, care about your event and are very professional, but like any other services you can be very disappointed.
Is the company interested in knowing about your wedding or special event and how they can make it special. Do you have a contact person who works with you before your wedding or special event and will be at the event to coordinate your event with the horse carriage services.
You should research the horse carriage company the same way you did your wedding and/or event planner.
Anyone can show up with a horse and carriage, but to make it special, requires timing. A good horse drawn carriage driver and footman know what to do and when to do it. This comes with experience.
You can teach almost anyone to drive a horse but it takes real skill to do it well and with style.
Is the same person you're talking to on the phone, or meeting with, going to be at the event? If not, ask to speak to the driver, and also if possible the footman, before finalizing the booking.
Make sure exactly how the driver and footman will be dressed. Your definition of formal may not be the same as the company's. Also, you may have a particular theme you are trying to create.
If they have a choice of different carriages, make sure you will be getting the one you picked out.
Always ask the following questions:
Ask who will be your driver, get his/her name and make it part of your contract.
Ask if the company provides a footman.
Ask to speak to the driver.
Ask how long they have had the horse that will be at your event and how much experience the horse, driver and footman have. Also, if the driver is a member of any driving clubs or has received training from professionals, been through a safety class, etc..
Ask about the companies safety record.(have they had any wrecks)
Ask if they have insurance.
Ask who performs the maintenance and safety inspections, and how often they are performed on the carriages and the harnesses.
Ask how will the horse company transport to the event. If they are using two vehicles, one for the horse and one for the carriage, it may indicate they haven't been in business long or aren't fully committed to the business. Additionally, two vehicles means double the chance of mechanical problems.
Ask if they have backup horses, drivers, footman and transport vehicles in case a horse or person gets sick or injured or a vehicle breaks down.
Commitment to Service:
Ask what you will be getting for your money and what the package includes, you don't want to learn at the event that something you expected is an extra charge.
Ask how long have they been in business.
Ask who is respondsible for cleaning the harness, horse and carriage before the event. You don't want the operator showing up with a dirty carriage or ungroomed horse for your pictures.
Ask if they are a member of Carriage Operators of North America(CONA).
Please also make sure the company is
Never use a company where the horse looks sick or underweight.
Never use a company that treats their horses like equipment.
Never use a company that will work horses during extreme heat or cold.
Never use a company who is unconcerned about what conditions their horses will be performing in.
Don't hesitate to call large animal veterinarians in the company's area to check on their reputation or to ask who is the company's veterinarian or farrier is and if you can call them for a reference.
We at Deep South Carriage, Inc. hope this information helps you. We love this profession and hope everyone who chooses to hire a horse carriage company has the best and most memorable experience of there lives.
If you would like more information about Deep South Carriage, Inc., information in general or need help, even if we are outside your area, please feel free to email us or call us anytime.
Deep South Carriage, Inc.