Carriage Establishment keeps tradition aliveNov 02, 2023 10:44AM ● By Braden Nelsen
Dale Greenwell and Hank the Horse have been working together on carriage rides for years. Photo by Braden Nelsen
FARMINGTON—Longtime residents of the Wasatch Front will remember the scenic, albeit chilly carriage rides in downtown Salt Lake City during the holidays. For a small fee, people could ride around and see the beautiful lights, trees, and other decorations all serenaded by the gentle clip-clop of a horse pulling the carriage. While those rides may not be available, one Davis County organization is keeping the tradition alive.
Dale and Karen Greenwell of the Carriage Establishment have been working with horse and carriage rides for years now, with Dale actually working in downtown Salt Lake as early as 2008. His experience with horses didn’t start there though, as he explained, he’s “been with horses all my life.” Dale shared that as early as 8 he was working with equine-powered transportation, utilizing a point to pull around a small cart near his home.
It was only natural, therefore, that he found his way to working with the horse and carriage rides in downtown Salt Lake in 2008, but that program, unfortunately, was not to last. In 2014, the city decided that carriage rides were something they didn’t want to allow anymore, and soon, those horses and their handlers would be out of the job.
Some quick thinking on the part of the Greenwells was able to salvage this bit of nostalgia, along with two veteran horses from the group – Hank, and Blaze. It was in the winter of 2015, just one short year after Salt Lake canceled its program, that Dale and Karen were able to bring the classic carriage rides back, this time at the Ogden City Christmas Village.
A tradition in downtown Ogden for years, the Christmas Village features a miniature village built right in the heart of the city. In 2015, the Greenwells reached an agreement with the Christmas Village to run carriage rides, just like in the old days, around the village itself. The rides have been popular enough, said Karen, that they even have fans that come all the way from Beaver to take a ride once again.
That isn’t the only option for people looking for a nostalgic ride in a horse-drawn carriage, however. The Carriage Establishment has expanded their operations to include weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, school dances, funerals, and even more. At the heart of it all, says both Karen and Dale, is the people.
“I love the look on the faces of children,” said Karen, explaining how many have never seen a real horse, and often ask, “Is it real?” Dale agreed, saying just how much he “enjoy(s) having people around the horses.” The services offered at the Carriage Establishment prove just how important both the clientele and the horses themselves are to the Greenwells.
Each ride, explained Karen, is customized to the patrons themselves. This includes routes, including around town as the carriages are street-legal, music, ambiance, and even sometimes, flowers. Karen shared that they’ve helped with their fair share of marriage proposals as part of their business, and, that they’ve “never had anyone say no!”
Proposals aren’t the only fascinating things that have happened on carriage rides with Dale and Karen. They also shared how recently they’ve had the opportunity to help with both an Indian Wedding traditional Baraat, and a handful of funerals, utilizing an authentic 19th-century hearse belonging to Eli Anderson of Wagonland Adventures.
While very different in scope, each of these events stands out as particularly special, as the Greenwells are able to help make them unforgettable. In the case of the Baraat, the groom rode a white horse, one of the Greenwell’s, to the ceremony, fully bedecked in traditional livery. It’s an ancient tradition and one that neither the participants nor the Greenwells will soon forget.
When it comes to funerals, the Greenwells said that each is “really an honor.” The solemnity and dignity that a horse-drawn hearse lends to a funeral is, for many, the perfect sendoff. “You don’t have to be a horse lover,” said Karen, “to see the impact.” Each event they shared really goes to show how involved, customizable, and personalized a carriage ride can be.
With so many opportunities, it’s plain to see that, as Karen said, “Any reason is the perfect reason for a carriage ride.” From the ornate and extravagant to the simple and nostalgic, it’s an amazing and singular opportunity right here in Davis County. More information on The Carriage Establishment, their services, and booking can be found at www.thecarriageestablishment.com.