by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you are looking for something unique to do this holiday season how about a carriage ride in Old Town Clovis? Fresno Carriage has been providing carriages for various events on some level for about 20 years. We chatted recently with owner Barbara Dotta about Fresno Carriage and about the rides in Old Town Clovis.
KRL: When did you start the business and what gave you the idea?
Barbara: About 20 years ago on a smaller basis. I have shown and exhibited Percherons for about 30 years and also competed in Combined Driving, worked with, and trained with carriage driving experts from all across the U.S., Europe, and Canada. You get a lot of new ideas while working with such a diverse group of people.
KRL: Where are you located?
Barbara: We are located a little east of Clovis on Hwy 168.
KRL: How many horses do you have?
Barbara: How many horses – a few. Did you know it isn’t protocol to ask a horseman or a cattleman how many horses or cows they have? My Dad taught me that. It is kinda like asking about your bank account. I will say that I have carriage Percherons and I also have a breeding program of Registered Percheron hitch-type horses for the draft horse shows you can see on RFDT.
KRL: Interesting. How many carriages do you have and What do you offer these services for?
Barbara: How many carriages – a few. We provide funeral services and are in the process of designing a new hearse made by Weaver Wagen in Ohio. It will be the only one of its kind in the U.S. We also have a wedding carriage from Germany; a Hitch Wagon made in Germany for 6 horses (parades, rodeo entrances and special events), a Christmas picnic carriage made in Germany, a sled, competition and training carriages and single horse draft carriages and carts.
KRL: How long of a ride is the one in Old Town Clovis?
Barbara: The ride is about 10 minutes.
KRL: What is the cost?
Barbara: Cost – free thanks to our great sponsors in Old Town Clovis. Come downtown and visit the sponsors, eat, drink, Christmas Shop and Be Merry.
KRL: What hours and days is this available?
Barbara: Hours: Friday nights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in front of EECU on Polaski Street.
KRL: Do people have to make a reservation? If not, where does one go to take part in this ride?
Barbara: No reservations needed just come downtown to Polaski in front of the EECU and you will see us.
KRL: Can you tell us a little about the ride itself?
Barbara: The ride is fun. You can see what it was like for the pioneers to cross the U.S. in a wagon. We go a little slower than cars but it gives you time to relax and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas
KRL: Can you tell us about the carriages and the horses for this?
Barbara: I generally use 2 different pairs of horses and rotate them every day so no horse works 2 days in a row. The mares are Faye, Fascination, Fabianna, and Casey. The carriage was imported from Germany. It is divided into 2 sections; a larger group in back – 8 plus people depending on the kids and 6 people in the front. We do have our rain sides on the carriage right now because of the rain last weekend. I will take it off when the sun returns. It takes about 3 hours to take it off and put it on. The carriage is highly decorated with a Candy cane theme and teddy bears.
KRL: Where can people find you online?
Barbara: Fresnocarriage.com and use that e-mail address to send messages.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Barbara: Horses are a labor of love, especially with draft horses. They require many things that people don’t realize when it comes to preparing for events. Draft horses and Percherons specifically are the majestic gentle giants of the equine industry. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Check out more local entertainment articles, including more holiday events, in our Arts & Entertainment section. And don’t miss out on Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast where we feature mystery stories read by local actors!
We do the carriage ride every year. Used to be with our boys and now we do it with our grandkids. One of our favorite Christmas traditions. We went last night. Thank you for doing this for our commmnity.