Volume 16, Issue 36 - September 4 - September 10, 2008

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Getting Around: Stories on the Move
Horse-Drawn Carriage

by Erica Stratton

Riding in a carriage, even the most unassuming person is transformed into a celebrity. Tourists take photos and small children yell Horsie! as your coachman drives you through the streets of Annapolis. Strangers driving cars — who might stop only grudgingly if you were a mere pedestrian — wave out their windows.

“They like you,” says coachman Renate Young, of the motorists. “But they don’t like me.” She — the staff of Annapolis Carriage refer to themselves as footmen or coachmen regardless of sex — is referring to her position as the driver of a large conveyance that goes around five miles an hour. Drivers try to squeeze past the carriage on a narrow road. A car a few inches away can spook a horse, even wearing blinders.

“People could be a lot more courteous,” the coachman says.

Poking her whip out of the cab, she shows how close is too close. The coachmen never use whips, however, to discipline their horses. The animals are trained by voice to accomplish maneuvers ranging from U-turns to parallel parking.

Taking a carriage tour is a pastime for special occasions or the well off: A ride can cost from $20 to $140, depending on where and how far you want to go.

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