It has been decades since horse-drawn wagons were a common sight, but beginning in February, at least one is expected to frequent Scotts Valley Drive.
Four months after moving to Scotts Valley from Morgan Hill, the luxury carriage service Carriage De Corriere will offer local businesses a unique means of mobile advertising — on the side of an antique, horse-drawn wagon.
For owner Shanna Corriere, however, the formal driving of horses, called turnout, is no novelty.
She is the seventh generation of her family to work with horses — both in livery and to cultivate land — counting from her ancestors in Sweden in the 1700s.
“It’s kind of one of those lineage things I just got handed down,” she said, adding that. “My family’s been doing this for over 250 years.”
Corriere said her grandfather drove draft horses on his cattle ranch in Monterey County until the 1960s.
She was trained in turnout by a professional instructor from England, whose résumé included driving carriages at Windsor Castle, home of the country’s royalty. She has also taught both of the company’s horses to respond to voice commands.
“I do all the driving — I don’t turn the reins over to anyone,” she said. “Horsemanship is not a science, it’s an art.”
Carriage De Corriere, which Corriere has run with her husband, Troy, since 2003, provides horse-drawn carriages for weddings, galas and other events.
Customers can choose either of two four-person carriages, a vis-à-vis French-style carriage and an 1880s-era town coach, or a hay wagon that seats 24.
All three are painstakingly restored antiques — the newest is nearly a century old — and are drawn by Maximus and Apollo, a pair of black-and-brown draft horses.
“(The horses) make a statement,” Corriere said. “People are gravitated to them.”
Showmanship and horsemanship are of equal importance, Corriere said.
Each formal event Carriage De Corriere is hired for entails 80 hours of preparation work — grooming the horses, polishing brass and preparing all the gear to move on a Freightliner truck.
“We’re big on perfection,” Corriere said. “A bride only gets married once, so it has to be perfect.”
According to Corriere, the move to Scotts Valley in September was made to escape the stifling summer heat of Morgan Hill for the well-being of the animals.
“Everything is for the horses’ benefit,” she said. “It’s important to take really good care of them.”
While weddings are a major part of Carriage De Corriere’s business, the company also does restaurant packages, parades and Western-themed events.
According to Corriere, plans are in the works to offer rides at events at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach.
During quiet times, Corriere said she plans to sell advertising space on the large hay wagon and run it along Scotts Valley Drive, and possibly Mount Hermon Road, twice a week.
For information: www.royalblackcoach.com