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Her Percherons Earn THeir Room, Board
Draft horse owners come up with some creative ways for the animals to earn their keep – and to give them more time with their beloved animals.
  That’s what Pam and Dale Wolle of Battle Ground, Wash., decided to do in 2004. Pam thought it would be fun to own a carriage to use as their 12 grandchildren got married. Then they met a Seattle businesswoman who provided horse-drawn carriage services and was willing to share what she knew.
  “It was something fun for my husband and I to do,” Wolle says. When he passed away two years ago, she decided to continue to run Daybreak Percherons, along with her full-time promotional marketing job.
  “The carriage business pays for my horse habit,” she explains. “I do it because I love it, but I wouldn’t want to do it fulltime.”
  With an inventory of reproduction white and black Victorian carriages, and a 14 to 16-person people-mover that transforms into a covered wagon, she can offer a variety of services.
  For weddings and events, she dresses up in a black tailored suit and lady’s English riding hat to drive the bride to the ceremony. Then she takes the bride and groom for a ride and photo shoot before delivering them to the reception. She offers romantic “proposal” rides and has been honored to ride as a “squire” for a horse lover’s last ride to the cemetery.
  Towns and groups hire her to transport people at various events, from annual Christmas celebrations to anniversary and historical reenactments. Often banks and other businesses pay the sponsorships.
  “Do your research,” she suggests. “Find out all your costs – including insurance.”
  Then don’t be afraid to charge accordingly. Considering it costs $200 to shoe a draft horse, plus the cost of hauling them to an event, their feed, insurance and other maintenance costs, she came up with a $400 fee for her wedding package. That just covers costs, she says. If she wanted to make a profit, she would need to charge more.
  She made brochures and business cards to give to wedding and event planners and funeral directors. She markets through her website and word of mouth.
  Preparation is key to a successful business. Wolle knows exactly where she will park and the route she will take with the horse and carriage. She contacts clients a week ahead of the event to give them specific details – and reassure them she is dependable. She is always on time with everything sparkling clean.
  Most importantly, she works with her horses to ensure they will be calm amid popping balloons, blowing horns and big groups of people.
  “If it’s not safe for the horse, it’s not safe for you,” she says.
  Wolle books about 12 events a year, which she says is ideal for her.
  “I feel very blessed to have such wonderful horses and be among great people in the draft horse community,” she says. “I love sharing my horses with the public.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Pam Wolle, Daybreak Percherons, P.O. Box 130, Battle Ground, Wash. 98604 (ph 360 624-7405; www.daybreakpercherons.com).

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2013 - Volume #37, Issue #2