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10 Reasons Why Mules are like 1500lb Toddlers

Posted by on December 06, 2016

Carriage Driver, Mark Orfila, has worked in the French Quarter with carriage mules for about 5 years now. As a father who's raised two lovely kids, his experience working with our mules seems oddly family to the early days of parenthood. 

10 Reasons Why Mules Are Like 1500 lb Toddlers

  1. Oversize fears of everyday objects. A plastic bag blowing down the street or a discarded couch on the sidewalk can send a mule into a full-on tantrum. A few words of encouragement usual helps us get past the scary plastic bag. 
  2. Speaking of tantrums, if you think that a spoiled toddler in the checkout line can create a lot of drama, just wait till you see a mule demanding a treat with every trick at his disposal. 
  3. Dirty diapers. We're talking ten pounds of wet stinking mule poo in a single dump sometimes! It's our job as carriage drivers to keep the diapers empty. 
  4. Hating baths. (To be fair some mules -- like some toddlers -- love baths.)
  5. Needing routine. Even minor changes to a route can sometimes be stressful. We try to do our best to keep them on new routes so that they don't develop bad habits! 
  6. All-around stubbornness (as stubborn as a mule), which truly is also a sign of their intelligence. They know they can win. 
  7. Testing limits. 
  8. Putting every disgusting thing they can find in their mouths.
  9. Rough/mean play. Ever wonder where the expression "horseplay" comes from? 
  10. BUT... at their best, they can be incredibly sweet and affectionate. 

When I started driving the carriage five years ago, a colleague said to me, "Working with a mule is like working with a 1,500 pound 3-year-old." Four and a half years later I'm still discovering how true it is. 

Written by Mark Orfila 

Veteran Carriage Driver & Tour Guide at Royal Carriages. 

Honoring Our Veterans: Bob & KJ

Posted by on November 11, 2016

Being a Veteran owned company, Royal Carriages holds a unique respect and appreciation for those who serve in our Armed Forces. We'd like to take this moment to recognize two incredible Veterans. 



 

Bob French Jr., a Supervisor at Royal Carriages, served in the United States Army working as a Secure Communications Repair Technician, serving two tours of Germany 1985-1986 and 1988-1991 in addition to a tour of Korea in 1994. Bob has a great sense of humor and knows exactly what to say to make our customers smile. At Royal Carriages, Bob is responsible for managing 13 carriages, drivers, and mules each day. 
 

Former Carriage Driver, Kevin “KJ” Joseph, was recently promoted to Supervisor at Royal Carriages due to his natural leadership abilities thanks to his service in the Air Force. As a carriage driver, KJ entertained everyone who rode his carriage. KJ worked as a Military Intelligence Office for the Air Force and through his years of service, KJ traveled to Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Liberia. 

“The Air Force was the most attractive branch that I saw at Grambling State University. I joined to have a way to pay for college initially; then decided to have a career to take care of family.” said KJ.

Together, these outstanding men supervise and manage the day to day street operations of our family-owned carriage tour company. They are both recent graduates of the 2016 Royal Carriages Mule School, which takes place annually in Poplarville, Mississippi. Mule School focuses on improving our education, handling, and relationships with our carriage mules. 

To honor and show our appreciation to both Bob French Jr. and Kevin Joseph for their service, Royal Carriages has provided each Veteran with complimentary tickets to the WWII Museum, which attracts more visitors to New Orleans each year than Mardi Gras itself. 



Royal Carriages would like to remind everyone about our Veterans Ride Free Program. All US Veterans receive complimentary 30-minute carriage tours of the French Quarter, and $20 OFF all other carriage tours, with Military ID.

On this day, and every day, we salute you.
Thank you!

Travel Tips: Family Fun in New Orleans

Posted by on June 09, 2016

"If a fact-filled wander about town sounds like pure punishment, think again. For children, learning about the past can be fascinating, if the setting is right. Taking in the sights from a carriage is decidedly cool. So is picking out the mule leading your expedition."

It's true! A fantastic article written by Amy Tara Koch for The New York Times features a whole slew of must-dos for families planning to visit New Orleans.

The article, published in The New York Times on June 1, 2016, gave an honorable mention to our hard-working mules and the carriage drivers that love them. 

What a great description of our carriage tours! 

In just 30-minutes, our carriage tour covers more ground and history than a 2-hour walking tour! Each tour discusses history, culture, architecture, and dabbles into the subjects of voodoo, food, music, and more! These mule-drawn excursions are perfect for kids of all ages! 

In addition to recommending a mule-drawn carriage tour of the French Quarter with Royal Carriages, the article also suggests phenomenal New Orleans traditions such as beignets at Cafe DuMonde, an overstuffed po'boy at Johnny's, dancing and dining at Three Muses on Frenchmen, and more.

For fun culinary experience the whole family can enjoy, we agree with the selections of Dat Dog, Sucre`, and Jacque-Imo's Cafe for fun atmosphere and flavorful dishes that even the pickiest of eaters can enjoy! 

The New York Times also suggested that New Orleans is considered one of the Top 5 Family Vacation Alternatives to Disney World! 

Click here to read the article: The New York Times "New Orleans is a Party for Families"

Learn all about Royal Carriages Street Sweep Program

Posted by on February 15, 2016

Did you know that the diaper bags that the mules wear today were originally designed by a lovely lady by the name of Miss Violet Lauga in the 1960s? Violet was happily married to the founder of Royal Carriages, Clem Laura. She and her husband traced out the pattern on her kitchen table. This same pattern is still hand-sewn and worn by all Royal Carriage mules.  

When worn properly, equine diaper bags catch more than 90% of all waste...manure...poop...whatever you want to call it! 
Occasionally accidental "road apples" hit the ground. Royal Carriages averages 20-26 working mules each day, in addition to working mules from the other companies and New Orleans Police Department Mounted Patrol....that can be a lot of accidental manure! City law requires each carriage mule to wear a diaper bag, and City Officials regularly perform surprise inspections to make sure the diaper bags are in proper working order.
 
Did you know The City of New Orleans requires each carriage company to remove the manure from the French Quarter on scheduled days? Since Royal Carriages is the largest carriage company, we are responsible for cleaning more days out of any other company.

At Royal Carriages, we 
believe in being good neighbors and we love seeing (and smelling) a clean French Quarter. Which is why the Royal Carriage Street Sweep is actively on the hunt, searching for manure to sweep up. The Royal Carriages Street Sweep consists of a battery operated golf cart, equipped with a shovel, broom, and assortment of cleaning products to help neutralize and mask the odors. 
 

Did you know Royal Carriages also provides complimentary odor neutralizers to help freshen the air in front of any French Quarter business or residence? If you would like to receive a package, contact our business office at (504) 943-8820  and we will deliver it to your door.  
 
If you are a French Quarter business owner or resident that needs EMERGENCY POOP REMOVAL, we've got you covered! Follow the chart below, and call in your request to the company scheduled. If the waste isn't removed in a timely manner, comments can be made during regular business hours to The City of New Orleans at (504) 658-7176.

Royal Carriages will make the extra effort to clean up even if it isn't our scheduled day.  

If you are a resident or a business owner in the French Quarter or Marigny and have found this information to be helpful, please forward this on to your neighbors!

Together, we'll all work towards cleaner streets! 

Nancy's Story: How I Became A French Quarter Carriage Driver

Posted by on February 08, 2016

In my early 20s, I left behind a good job, friends, and family in rural Louisiana for a life in The Big Easy. Never living in a city, I was completely unprepared for such change. Constantly struggling to find enough work to pay rent like most, I found myself slinging drinks on at a jazz club on Bourbon Street. Working late nights in a crowded and smoky environment for months on end was enough to drive for me to find something different. 

For years, I had wanted to become a licensed city tour guide, but the application process and tests through City Hall were discouraging. I wanted formal education to prepare me and within a few months, I graduated from the Friends of the Cabildo Tour Guide Class and began working as a professional city tour guide. Walking groups of 25+ visitors throughout the French Quarter  for 2-hours at a time was not as much fun as it seemed and neither was giving tours on a tour bus. Once again, I found myself struggling financially and still searching for a rewarding experience. 

Through Friends of the Cabildo, I met an older man with a big smile named Mick. After expressing my concerns to him, he told me that I needed to work as a carriage driver for Royal Carriages. I never considered driving carriages or working with “poor overworked horses” and my own stubborn ignorance didn’t think highly of the carriage industry. He laughed and said, “If you see anything you don’t like, then don’t do it.”

Before applying to Royal Carriages to work as a carriage driver, I researched the carriage industry. I wanted to know everything that I could about what I was about to do. I learned that the horses were not horses at all, but mules, and that Royal Carriages has been in business since 1941! My confidence in the industry grew, and I looked forward to my job interviews with Royal Carriages. I even came across a vintage brooch of a horse-drawn carriage at a local thrift shop, felt that fate was working its magic, and wore it as good luck to the interview. 


Nancy is pictured with Queenie

Most carriage drivers agree that it is the best job in the city. We have the opportunity to spend our days working with hard-working and hard-loving mules that are well cared for, and provide visitors with the best tour experience possible. Our mule-drawn carriages enhance the beauty of the French Quarter, and the initial encounter that people have with a carriage mule can be unforgettable. Artists have painted works of art of my mule and me, and our photo has been taken by countless strangers. Those types of things don’t happen when you are a walking tour guide or a bus tour guide. 


Original Artwork by New Orleans Artist Wayne Griffin 

Over the years, I have become somewhat of a carriage mule-advocate. Whenever someone discovers that I work as a carriage driver, they have a ton of questions. They are always surprised and delighted to hear my response. I show them pictures of the carriage mule that I work with on my cell phone and speak of it as if it were my child. They are reassured knowing that people like me truly do fall in love with their working partners. 

When you're a newbie, your mule teaches you a lot. One of the most important things I've learned is that life is like a stubborn mule. You can try to be in control, but you’re not. I do my best to just work with it. I believe that fate can be a series of unfortunate events that lead you to a worthwhile experience. In this case, it leads me to loving mules and appreciating those who work with equines in various industries. I'm one of those "mule-crazy" people now. 

Our group of 5 all really enjoyed this 1 hr tour of the French Quarter and St Louis Cemetery # 1. We had Charlotte as our tour guide and Praline was her mule. They both did a great job! We learned a lot more than we thought we would in 1 hr. It was very cold and rainy the day we went on our tour, we arrived early and Charlotte directed us to a nice coffee shop to help warm us up and she had large blankets on the carriage. This is really a great tour!

TripAdvisor Member: Mandy M of Wharton, Texas, USA

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