By Frank J. Buchman
“There’s nothing more relaxing than a soft-cushioned, spring-seated carriage ride behind gigantic sleek black perfectly matched Percheron mares clopping down the country road on a beautiful fall day.”
Well, similar is said for anytime one has the opportunity to go for an excursion in a horse drawn vehicle.
Cecil Carter knows that.
“For some reason, people find all problems of the world just seem to go away when they’re enjoying a ride in one of our carriages pulled by our big magnificent draft teams,” reasoned Carter, who operates 3C Carriage Service at White City.
In partnership with his son, Robert, they provide horse drawn carriage rides for nearly two dozen special events annually throughout eastern Kansas.
“It’s a venture we both love because of our affection for horses. Probably even more important is the very happy memories our big horses and carriages help create for those celebrating special occasions in their lives,” Carter insisted.
Among the diverse affairs served by 3C Carriage Service, named after proprietor Cecil C. Carter himself, have included weddings, hayrack rides, parades, rodeos private parties, a wide array of special celebrations, and real farm work.
“Of course, this time of year Santa Claus is coming to town, and we’ve been privileged on many occasions to supply his transportation, especially when one of his reindeer gets lame,” Carter smiled.
Quite the opposite realm, 3C Carriage Service provides horse drawn vehicles for funeral processions.
“We enjoy every time we have an opportunity to provide carriage services, but it’s been real special delivering the Christmas tree to the Kansas governor’s home for several years,” Carter said.
“We had worked for two other operations providing public horse drawn vehicle services, and decided to get in the business, when we had the opportunity to buy a team and equipment from a friend in northeast Kansas,” reflected Carter, who retired from military and moved to Kansas in 1998.
Enjoying riding saddle horses, the Carters soon found affection for the draft teams. “Combined, Robert and I have 25 years of experiences with horses, so we’re not rookies,” Carter confirmed.
A team of Belgians was in the original business purchase. “They got old, so we retired that team, and now have two different teams, for pulling our two different vehicles, depending on what type of function we have contracted,” Carter said.
Both teams came from Amish farming communities, the Belgians from Wisconsin, and Percherons from Minnesota.
Their 12- and 13-year-old Belgian geldings, Don and Flash are 18.3 hands, that’s 75 inches, more than 7-feet tall, weighing 2,300 pounds apiece.
The 10- and 11-year-old matched Percheron mares, Betty and Bess, are 18-hands, and weigh a ton, that’s 2,000 pounds, each.
“We have a heavy farm work harness for the Belgians, and a beaded black show harness for the Percherons,” Carter said.
For more formal affairs, 3C Carriage Service offers a luxurious white Visa-A-Vis limousine. “There are facing seats, and another seat in the back, all total six passengers, plus the driver,” Carter said.
Their 1880s replica hayrack is almost one of a kind, according to the teamster. “It was made by Don Werner Wagon Works of Horton, and there are only two others like,” he insisted.
To fit the occasion, the Carter dad-son partners always dress Western, matching vests, white shirts and black hats. “When it’s formal, we’re Western formal, too, with suit jackets,” he said.
Not only do the horses work as a team, they’re all broke to drive single, which is sought by certain celebration clientele.
“Our draft horses are also all broke to ride. We take them on trail rides, and just go for a relaxing jaunt sometimes, always in Western tack. We keep to our cowboy ways in everything we do,” Carter said.
Draft horse competition is a spectator attraction at the Kansas State Fair, and 3C Carriage Service has had their teams participating in various driving classes there, including the farm division.
“We can leave the horses harnessed with a vehicle, walk away and return in three hours, and they won’t have moved six inches. Fireworks, big bands, loud clapping, noisy crowds, rambunctious kids running under them have no effect on the horses.
“Now, I’m not guaranteeing they’re bomb proof, but our horses are safe. That’s the utmost importance to us is; safety for everyone in every situation,” Carter said.
“We offer courteous service and can coordinate carriage rides for about any occasion,” he assured.
When they’re not working, 3C Carriage Service teams are at home on Carter’s quarter section Morris County Farm.
“We live there, and Robert has a home on the property, too. We have goats, a few cattle, along with the horses. Robert does work at Fort Riley, but I’m retired and spend my time working with the horses,” he said.
Information can be found at www.3ccarriageservice.com.