Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show | SLO Horse News

Sometimes we need to step back in time, slow down and enjoy a carriage ride while we appreciate the design and innovation of yesteryear. Before tractors rolled into the ag field, plow horses were the engine to the plow that dug up the land. Therefore, horses are always a welcomed part of the Best of the West Antique Equipment show at the Santa Margarita Ranch. Anita Marlett of Grand Cheval Carriage Services will again have her horses on hand to give FREE rides at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show May 24 – 26, 2019.

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show  | SLO Horse News
Horses and Mules were the original tractors. Photo Credit: Another Rick Evans Photo

Not only were horses the original tractors, they were the sole means of transportation before trains, motor cars and airplanes. Today we see less and less of the equine assisting the human with farm tasks or as a means of transportation. However, if we step back in time, slow down and enjoy a carriage ride we’ll notice things and appreciate sights we would normally just rush right past.

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show

There is much to see at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show which displays a variety of antique tractors, tanks, engines, steam trains, antique airplanes and more. “I love telling people about the horses and carriage,” explains Anita regarding her participation in the Best of the West Antique Equipment show, “and letting them experience a ride. We slow down and enjoy the show allowing us to notice more things.”

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show  | SLO Horse News
“Spot” and the Wagonette

Inspired by Her Grandfather

“My grandfather was the one who go me into providing rides at this show,” explains Anita. “He was instrumental in getting a lot of the equipment to the show in the first years. Much of the equipment on display was his own. The first year I participated was the only time I was ever able to give my grandfather carriage ride.”

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show  | SLO Horse News
Grand Cheval – Anita and Phantom an English Shire

Anita brings three of her horses: “Phantom”, a 19 year-old English Shire; “Crystal”, a 17 year-old English Shire; and “Spots”, a seven year-old Drum Horse. All her horses take turns taking show visitors for short rides in the Wagonette. “We do this to give people a taste of what a carriage ride is like,” explains Anita who does not charge for the rides. She will have her team at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show 9:00 am – 4:00 pm on Saturday May 25 and Sunday May 26, 2019.

Introducing the Public to Horses

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show  | SLO Horse News
The “Team” pulling the Hay Wagon

Today, the general population is quite unfamiliar with the horse and Anita provides a means of helping bridge the gap of familiarity. “Most everybody is amazed at how big and how quiet my horses are,” explains Anita. “Draft horses are mellow, kind and quiet. Big tanks and tractors drive by and my horses say, ‘whatever’.” Most people ask questions like, “Can I pat your horse?”, “Will he spook?”, “What breed is your horse?” These leading questions allow Anita to connect the general public to the horses giving them a new appreciation and understanding of these beautiful, gentle and useful creatures.

Every Horse Interaction Can Be Therapeutic

“The kids really light up when they ride up with me,” describes Anita regarding how she connects her passengers with the whole experience of riding in the Wagonette. “I light a spark of interest in the next generation.” Her goal is to give every person a chance to go for a ride or somehow connect with the horses so they go home with a life memory.

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show  | SLO Horse News
“Spots” creates a special memory for a young boy.

Her favorite horse connection memory involves a child whose situation made it difficult to get him into the carriage. However, Anita made sure he had a connection with her Drum horse, “Spots”, by bringing the horse up to the young boy. “The moment was super special as the boy responded to the gentle approach of my horse. The boy’s face broke into the biggest grin. It was just priceless!” exclaimed Anita.

Grand Cheval Carriage Services Does Weddings and More

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show  | SLO Horse News
Grand Cheval and a Wedding at Cass Winery

Yes, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage so Grand Cheval Carriage Services is called on to play a role in Weddings. Anita warns her brides, “It’s not going to go just as planned, but how everything turns out will make it more memorable and will make the moment yours.”

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show  | SLO Horse News

The Grand Cheval team can also be seen and enjoyed for rides at wineries such as Cass Vineyard and Winery and Still Waters Vineyard. Watch for postings on the Grand Cheval Facebook page and Instagram Feed for notices regarding walk-up winery rides. When not at a winery, many weekends Anita takes a horse and one of her carriages to Harmony and provides walk-up rides to guests for $5.00 a person.

How Anita Got Started

“We were figuring out something that could help the horses pay for themselves . . . (laughs). I don’t have a regular 9-5:00 job,” Anita begins as she tells how she got into the carriage driving business. “I started driving with a friend of mine volunteering at his ranch.”  This experience kept whetting her appetite to continue to drive and began the search to purchase a horse. “One day my friend contacted me and asked, ‘Do you want to pick my mare up and bring her home?’” This event launched Anita into the carriage driving business.

Plan on Slowing Down While Attending the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show

Slow Down and Enjoy a Carriage Ride at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show  | SLO Horse News
Wagons at The Best of the West Antique Equipment Show held at the Santa Margarita Ranch. Photo credit: Another Rick Evans Photo

Bring the whole family as there is something for everyone, including a carriage ride, at the Best of the West Antique Equipment Show held at the Santa Margarita Ranch May 24-26, 2019. $10.00 per person per day or $25.00 for the whole weekend (children 10 and under are free) gets you in the door. Steam train rides are extra but the horse carriage rides are free. Anita and her team will be there on Saturday and Sunday.

Plan to be at the show over the noon hour as WWII Airplanes do a flyover each day. A BBQ lunch, a variety of vendors, antique equipment, tractors and demos are some of the offerings. Many kid’s activities are scheduled throughout the day.

The show grounds are bright and sunny so a hat and sunglasses will be appreciated. Walking shoes will be the most comfortable and many areas are in hard-packed dirt. The food and vendor area has some shade and seating.

Photo credit unless otherwise noted: Anita Marlett, Grand Cheval Carriage Services


Step away from the chaos of life. Enjoy excerpts of actual moments and quotes from people interacting with a carriage driver and horse riding down the streets of San Luis Obipso. To keep these stories at your fingertips you can get this FREE Hot Sheet which will direct you to a few Carriage Caper stories. We’ll continue to add carriage driving stories to our website. You can stay up-to-date by becoming a SLO Horse News herd member. Get your Carriage Capers Hot Sheet here >.

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Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family.

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