Anderson's Carriage Company owners have fun

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Name: Vern and Michelle Anderson

Name of Business/Address: Anderson's Carriage Company and Boot and Saddle Repair, 52730 N. Highway 13, Craig; (970) 824-9536; www.andersonscarriagecompany.com

What prompted you to open your business in Craig? I don't know if anything "prompted" us. This is a service that we enjoy doing, and it brings lots of pleasure to people, so we consider it more fun than a business.

How did you get into your line of business? (Vern) I've been involved in horse-related activities since I was knee-high. My grandfather drove an eight-up hitch of black Percherons throughout California, following the fair circuit. I used to travel with him and my grandmother all summer long, learning from the ground up how to handle and drive the big horses. My dad did leather repair, and I just expanded on that into saddle and boot repair as I grew up.

Describe your philosophy of being a good businessperson: We treat each and every person as we would want to be treated. The carriage and horses are something very special and really adds a personal touch to any special occasion. We like to cater to the bride and groom and their families, or for that special 25th or 50th wedding anniversary, or the prom, or just a special day. We devote the whole day to getting ready, making sure everything is perfect; horses washed and groomed, harness polished, carriage cleaned. We dress in tuxedos or fancy vests and black cowboy hats, and then we make sure everything is as the customer wants, even down to last-minute changes. This is the customer's day, their time to shine, and that's what we're there to do.

How do you define the role of your business in the community? We bring that special ambience and "Old West" flavor to Craig. We try to keep the old traditions alive. Craig always has been a ranching cow town, and a carriage service, and boot and saddle repair fit right in. Tom and Jerry, our two Belgian geldings, have their own fan club. We fulfill that special need in a small community of togetherness. This year we've added Rose and Mandy, two Belgian mares to our group, and they'll be helping us out for the summer up in Steamboat.

What's the best part of your job?

That's an easy one. Once we get to where we're going, it's lots of fun. The people, the atmosphere, the gaiety, the kids who have never been around horses, let alone big horses, and the awe in their eyes as they get to pet them. The joy we get to bring to each affair we go to, whether it's a wedding or just carriage rides in the park.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

Well, my wife will tell you it's getting 8,000 pounds of horseflesh ready to go. Just washing one horse takes two hours, and you end up just as wet as they do! Then there's an hour or more in cleaning the carriage; at least an hour polishing the harness, and that's not including the time it takes you personally to get ready. And there's the hauling time to wherever the event is going to take place, and finding a place to park our rig, which is almost 70 feet long. That's quite a challenge in itself!

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