Second horse allows carriage service to expand its schedule
Rusty isn't all that happy about it, but Sammy has been added to the stable for 3G's Front Range Carriage Service.
Sammy, a 15-year-old light draft horse, will help 3G's “expand our presence in Old Colorado City,” according to owner and chief driver Mike Solano.
Along with employee/friend and business namesake Geoff G. Gerdes (note the three “Gs”), Solano has been providing horse- drawn carriage rides year-round in Old Town for the past three years.
The Amish-trained Rusty, previously the only 3G's horse, will now take turns with Sammy, Solano said.
Not that Rusty welcomes the reduction in work. The first time Sammy was put on the carriage, Rusty started “pouting,” Solano said.
Too bad Solano can't explain business realities to his eager steed. With two horses able to trade off - or even work simultaneously, as in the upcoming Territory Days - the service has been expanded to five days this month and will go to six days next month, he said.
This will mean more hours for existing employees and may also mean the addition of another handler for the horses and possibly a couple more drivers, he said.
Sammy is a Percheron cross, taller and roughly 300 pounds heavier than Rusty. 3G's bought him at an auction and put him into the harness about a week ago. “He's a wonderfully docile animal,” Solano said before his first carriage-on-street tryout.
A few days later, he reported that Sammy was adapting well to working in traffic and was ready for regular shifts.
From a city-allotted “parking space” on Colorado Avenue in front of Bancroft Park, Solano and other 3G's drivers typically give rides for a set fee around Old Colorado City. The business also works marriages and other special occasions and provides rides on request to Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods and downtown Colorado Springs.
A 12-year Westsider, Solano and his drivers dress in a Victorian style that matches the Amish-style carriage - which was custom-made to Solano's specifications - and the Old Colorado City tradition. “We know we're working in a historic district,” he said. “So we wear clothes that fit the image. We want to be presentable at the Broadmoor or anywhere in town.”
Solano is a former TV newsman who also runs a paralegal business named Front Range Investigations. But when the paralegal business slacked off a few years ago, Gerdes - a life-long Westsider who's been around horses as long as he can remember - talked to Solano about the possibilities of a carriage service.
“I had to learn about it,” Solano said. “And I started enjoying it.”
He said he normally doesn't have trouble with the traffic, but has to be careful around vehicles that are going much faster than him. “We're trying to exist in the 21st century with modern-day traffic,” he said. “We've got to work with that because we can't make it disappear.”
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