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February is the month of Valentine’s Day, and all the gift giving that goes with this particular day is extreme to say the least. People give wonderful gifts to their special someone on this day, and it is a "good thing" to do this and celebrate the love God has given to those in love.

Horse people are no more exempt from this gift-giving day than anyone else in the world, yet someone who appreciates the equine species may like something a little bit different from the normal bouquet of flowers and box of chocolate as their Valentine gift.

There are, of course, many, many different kinds of equine style gifts that can be given, such as horse shaped jewelry, a new saddle, or even a new horse if someone has a deep pocketbook. There are Valentine cards with equine themes and pictures on them. There are horse shaped chocolates for horse enthusiasts who love the delectable dark stuff. You can even ask your florist to make an arrangement with tiny little horses mixed in with the flowers or to form the arrangement in the shape of a horseshoe. All these gifts would take a little research on the part of the gift giver, but it would be well worth the smiles, hugs, and kisses they would receive after the gift is given. Also, it is always wise to order anything unusual, such as an equine theme flower arrangement or a horse shaped piece of jewelry, very early, so that the florist has enough time to get what is needed for that special bouquet or the jeweler has time to get the jewelry in on time for the big day. All this being said, I was most intrigued by another potential equine theme gift that is most unusual and "romantic out the roof"……..a horse-drawn carriage ride for Valentine’s Day.

 Now depending on where you live, this type of gift may or may not be feasible. For example, the Prince of Wales can probably order up a carriage and driver from His Royal Highness’s livery stable and take a spin around Buckingham Palace just any time he pleases, but most of us though would need to go to where the carriage and horses are available to be driven and purchase the ride. If you have a loved one who is a horse "nut," then it is very likely they would love this type of gift. I personally have been on carriage rides in two major cities that offer them……Louisville, KY, and in New Orleans, LA, (before Katrina). The rides were always romantic and wonderful, and I highly recommend them.

Of course, there are many different places that have carriage companies that offer rides to the public. This is where you would need to do some research, but for those who are interested in this, I did a little research to try to help you out with the ordering of a horse-drawn carriage ride for your sweetie.

First, you would need to find out where the horse and carriage companies are located, and where they might be willing to go. Some companies will send out a carriage to where you would like the ride, as long as the conditions are safe for the horses and, of course, you too. You would need to find a reputable company, though, and I found some advice on how to do this from a most unusual source…an author named Sharon Naylor, who specializes in wedding books, has advice for those who would order a horse-drawn carriage for Valentine’s Day. Ms. Naylor states, "Start by finding a reputable horse and carriage rental company online or in the Yellow Pages, looking under "Carriages" or "Carriage Companies." A prime place to start is the site for the Carriage Operators of North America (www.cona.org) which lists contact information for companies in the United States, the Caribbean, and Canada. Wedding coordinators can also point you in the right direction."

This sounds like very good advice. Ms. Naylor listed a few other things that would also be wise to do:

"Never choose a carriage online. Always go to the company to inspect the carriages and the horses yourself. Look for quality and shine in the carriage, and healthy-looking horses.

Check with town hall for their rules and permits regarding horse-drawn carriages on the roadways. Many towns require written clearance from them, so that they can give you a police escort, if that’s necessary traffic-wise, or clearance to go through residential areas.

Check with your chosen carriage operating company about their rules regarding the horse’s safety. The company may say "no" to a route that will bring you onto highways or traffic circles. Also, find out their strict rules about weather conditions. They may reserve the right to cancel during times of ice, snow, heavy rain and extreme heat, all with the horse’s safety in mind (as well as yours!).

Be sure the carriage company has complete liability insurance."

This is all very sound advice and it would serve you well if indeed you decide to treat your "honey" to a horse-drawn carriage ride for Valentine’s Day. It would still be fine to give the flowers, or chocolate, or jewelry, or all of them along with the horse-drawn carriage ride. In fact, depending on how serious you are with your sweetheart, it might be wise to give all these gifts on Valentine’s Day. The amount of gift giving is up to the giver. I just know from personal experience that a horse-drawn carriage ride makes a special day even more wonderful for someone who is a "nut" about Horses, Horses, Horses!

Janet Bryant is a freelance writer from Oneonta.



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Date Last Updated January, 2006