Carriage Cruising

An interview with one of the people responsible for Stillwater’s carriage rides this month.
Carriage of Love: Consider a horse-drawn carriage ride in Stillwater this February 14.

Meet Mary Block, co-owner of Johmar Farms, which provides the romantic horse-drawn carriage rides in downtown Stillwater. We sat down and asked her our burning questions.

What is it like to drive a horse-drawn carriage?
First, you have to have a very calm horse that is not distracted from his purpose. Then, you have to have a partnership between you and the horse, a mutual trust. The horse has to be sure he can trust you not to put him in harm’s way. You have to keep a sharp eye out for what is ahead of you and to always notice what the horse is seeing.

Do you consistently have the same horses pulling?
Not always. We have different jobs that require different horses. Ponies and mini donkeys pull small carriages and wagons for kid events. We use larger horses to pull our wedding and ride carriages. We use a draft team for our wagonette, with which we give rides that can seat many people. We choose the horse for the job and never put them on a job that they would not be able to handle.

Are horses trained?
Yes, horses are trained specifically for the job. Not all horses that can be ridden have the personality to pull a carriage. It takes a special communication when the horse is out front instead of under you.

What are the perks of driving the carriage?
I love the history of the carriages. It takes you back in time to a different era of travel.

Carriage rides this month will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. February 14. The rides are free, and people can line up at the Pedestrian Plaza on Water Street between Myrtle and Mulberry streets in Stillwater.