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An Inside Look at Horse Carriage Rides

Horses_pulling_a_carriage_at_the_Christmas_MarketYou’ve probably seen the horse drawn carriages making their way around Old Town. Maybe you’ve taken a ride yourself. But, you may not know the story behind the company providing this experience. Colorado Carriage and Wagon has called Fort Collins home for 14 years.

Starting out with just one carriage and one wagon, owners Jim and Tammy Rice greatly expanded their business over the years, now owning 28 carriages and wagons and providing rides for three states. What started as a part-time side business now serves not only downtown Fort Collins, but also Centerra, Estes Park, Nebraska and Wyoming. Rice estimates they give close to 30,000 rides per year.

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But, even with all of the towns Colorado Carriage and Wagon services, Fort Collins is home.

“On the rides people sometimes ask what my favorite place to live is and I always say it’s right here in Fort Collins,” Jim Rice said.

Jim Rice is a fourth generation Fort Collins resident. His great uncle, Art Collamer, was the stagecoach driver from Walden to Fort Collins back in the day and the Rice’s son, Tory, was a fifth-generation baby.

This is one of the reasons for the company’s active involvement with local business. Oftentimes, the carriage rides are placed in some kind of package where you can get the ride plus something extra. They have offered packages with free cookies, root beer floats, hot chocolate or even dessert at the Melting Pot. They are currently running a package that includes a carriage ride for two and either a bottle of wine or a dozen roses.

“We just try to think about what we would want to do as a couple, and then see how local businesses can fit in with that,” Tammy Rice said.

No matter what the package is, you are guaranteed that it has some kind of involvement with the businesses right here in town.

“It’s something that we try to do with the towns we’re in so it’s a win-win for both us and them,” Tammy Rice said. “We want to help build their business, and their revenue, and their reputation.”

This could also be a reason why despite their growth, Colorado Carriage and Wagon still has the charm and appeal of a small town family business. In fact, there is only one employee that is not a part of the family, and he might as well be. They even consider the horses to be family and treat them as such, according to Tammy Rice.

Like the best mom-and-pop places, the customers are most important.

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“Our biggest goal is to provide the best customer service possible, because without them we don’t have a business,” Jim Rice said.

After 14 years of serving those customers, the Rice family is still thrilled to be doing what they’re doing.

“I don’t have a job,” Jim Rice said. “Because if you have a job, you don’t look forward to it and I love it too much for it to be work. There are not many people that can say people are smiling when they come to them and smiling when they walk away. We are the world’s most fortunate people.”

Collegian Entertainment Writer McKenna Ferguson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.

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