Love and marriage
Feel like life’s going too fast for you? Time to slow down a bit and enjoy the ride. How about a look at life from the back of a horse-drawn carriage? Classic Coach Carriages, owned and operated by Ann Tatum, provides tourists and locals alike with the sweet taste of a slower life while fulfilling her own lifelong dream of making a living working with horses.
Tatum began driving 10 years ago and started her own one-woman company about five years later with a carriage and two horses. On any given day, she can be found on the streets of Old Sac with a handsome bay gentleman, Paul, or the fun loving grey, Smokey. Both horses are percherons, a type of horse bred to pull heavy loads. Besides giving carriage rides, Tatum and her horses participate in log pulling, community events and driving competitions. Tatum gives tours in Old Sacramento daily and handles wedding parties.
How did you get into driving?
Well, I’ve had horses all my life and was kind of stuck in different careers. I always wanted to make a living with horses and couldn’t figure out how. When I was a little kid I thought, well, I could be a jockey or a trainer, but none of that, of course, panned out. Then I stumbled into the carriage-driving business by working in Old Sacramento.
What makes a good carriage horse?
A good carriage horse has to be good with the public, has to be able to tolerate all kinds of distractions. He has to be fit to be able to pull a fully loaded carriage.
What breeds [of horse] do you prefer?
Percherons, draft horses.
How long does it take you to get ready?
It takes me, with washing the horse, cleaning everything and hauling, about two hours to get ready for town. They get a warm water bath every day. They get the first shower, then I get the second if there’s any hot water left.
How do you, and your horse, stay cool in the heat?
Well, there’s a city ordinance that when it reaches 95 degrees we have to clear the streets. Other than that, if it gets too warm I can find the shade.
Do you get honked at a lot?
During the day, everybody is nice; in the evenings sometimes we get some people who are impatient.
Do you get any static from animal rights people?
We do, a lot. When it starts getting 80 degrees we have people come by and yell at us. They just don’t understand. They [the horses] are fine. Plus, with not working over 95 degrees, it makes a big difference. If these were farm horses, which is what they were bred to do, back in the Midwest they would not stop if it was 90 degrees. They work all day no matter what. These horses are vet checked every year, and they have to be certified.
What’s your most memorable ride?
That’s a hard one. I’ve had a few [marriage] proposals. I had one that was really nice. I took them up to the Capitol and she had no idea about it. He brought her sister along, or a friend, so she wouldn’t be tipped off that anything special was going on. When we got up to the Capitol, she saw her brother hiding in the bushes with a video camera, video taping the whole thing. Of course, she said yes. When we came back to Old Sac he had a limousine waiting and it was very nice. I told her that if she didn’t say yes, I would.