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Horse-drawn sleigh rides respite from holiday rush

EDITOR'S NOTE: From now until Christmas, The Forum will shine the light each day on a local person or group of people who embody the spirit of Santa's reindeer. Today we introduce you to the Red River Valley's very own "Prancer."...

Mike Schmidt, owner of Alpine Carriage

EDITOR'S NOTE: From now until Christmas, The Forum will shine the light each day on a local person or group of people who embody the spirit of Santa's reindeer. Today we introduce you to the Red River Valley's very own "Prancer."

They might not do a lot of prancing, but Mike Schmidt's horses will wear sleigh bells and Santa hats.

Schmidt owns Alpine Carriage and Sleighs in Glyndon, Minn. December is his busiest month.

Horse-drawn carriage and sleigh rides are especially popular this time of year, when people are on the lookout for houses trimmed with holiday lights and icicles, Schmidt said.

Although he hears his fair share of marriage proposals, anniversary stories and birthday songs throughout the year, Schmidt said the 13-year-old business booms when snow blankets the ground.

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He chalks it up to nostalgia, a nice break from the winter doldrums, or a good way to simply leave behind the shop-til-you-drop attitude.

"You're traveling at about five to six miles an hour and it's wide open," he said. "People really seem to enjoy it."

So do the spectators.

Honking, camera flashes, and stopped traffic become par for the course for Schmidt and his equine crew.

"When you're traveling in the carriage, and you listen to the horses clip-clopping along, you're not worried about traffic," he said. "You're enjoying the ride."

- Kim Winnegge Horse-drawn sleigh rides respite from holiday rush Kim Winnegge 20071218

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