Horse Drawn Carriages - Lancashire Business Profile
PUBLISHED: 10:38 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:18 20 February 2013
A love of horses was the inspiration behind a Wigan-based business. <br/>Amanda Griffiths finds out more.Photographs: Neil Hickson
CHRIS Ainscough isn't your typical 20 year-old. While you'd find the majority of his peers racing round the country lanes in their cars, Chris can be found racing horses and carriages at prestigious shows in places like Lowther and Windsor.
Now, his love of driving horses has led him to set up his own business, taking people to a wide range of events - weddings, balls, proms and even funerals.
'You can use a horse and carriage for any event,' says Chris from his home in Worthington, near Wigan. 'People love to stroke the horses and always say how beautiful they are. They really make an impression. It's almost like going back in time arriving by horse and carriage. It's a very elegant way to travel, very comfortable and extremely relaxing.
'It gives you time to enjoy the scenery and, for me of course, it's great because I love driving the horses.' Horse Drawn Carriages can be hired for any special occasion, although the majority of the work so far has been for weddings, funerals and balls.
'We have two carriages, one for weddings and one for funerals, which are drawn by two of our seven horses, Jack and Dennis. 'The wedding carriages are all-weather and are completely water-proof, made from glass fronted landau, that can be put up if its raining.
'It's like being sat in a car, but people have a better view of the passengers,' he says. 'People these days want to stand out from the crowd. I know there are other people out there providing horse drawn carriages, but I think we're special.
'I believe we have very high standards. When you compete at shows you're not only judged on your driving but also on the turn out of the horses. Because we're used to being judged on the horses appearance we are used to turning them out at an xtremely high standard.
It's second nature now!' Chris isn't the only member of his family who has been involved with horses: 'My great-grandfather drove horses as a living and my Nan and Grandad competed. They are the reason I got into it,' says Chris, who was Junior National Champion in 2005.
'Nan and Grandad kept their horses here because Mum and Dad had the stables spare when they first moved into the house. Mum worked when I was little and my grandparents would look after me while they were seeing to the horses, so I grew up around them.
'I first went out driving round the roads with them when I was about three years old. I'd be in my pyjamas and would fall asleep when they were driving and they would put me to bed when they got back. That is until Dad put a stop to it after we had an accident one day. That's my first memory of carriage driving, being upside down under the carriage!
'I started to drive when I was about ten years old. I'd ridden beforehand on our land, but to do it legally on the roads you have to be over ten, to get insurance. 'I started competing at 12, my first event was at Tatton Hall and I came first in the Pre Novice Level. I've competed every year since then, up and down the country at National Carriage Driving events at Lowther, Windsor, Sandringham and in Edinburgh.
'I've got a lot of support from my grandparents, Grandad will sometimes help out driving the carriage if we need him, I've also got a girl, Vicky, who works for me fulltime and my girlfriend, Caz, helps out as well.
'It's funny, as a rule we're not really a horsey family. There have been individuals involved with horses, rather than it being a whole family thing. It's on my Mum's side really, it was her parents who got me into competing, and their parents did it for a living - one in the army and the other hired carriages for farming and deliveries.
Mum helps now and again and has even driven carriages herself, but only for pleasure and my sister has started competing as well, I think she might even be better than me at the competitions, but my brother is more into rugby than horses, like my Dad,' he says.
'At the funerals, you feel you are sending people off in style and more often than not the family members will come over and thank us for giving their loved one such a special last journey.'
For more information about Horse Drawn Carriages see the website at www.horsedrawncarriages.biz or call 01257 422618.