Raised on a farm in West Sunbury, Mindy Stoops has been around horses her whole life.
When Stoops' dad's best friend passed away, his last Percheron horse ended up with the family, and from there, the family carriage business grew into what is now Misty Lane Farms Performance Horses, located in Clay Township.
Currently it is Stoops' business, but her husband, father, mother and son all keep it up and running, all members of the Carriage Operators of North America.
Famously known for weddings and other public events, the business consists of 27 rescue horses, who are checked by a vet before being able to work.
“The greatest part is the animals,” Stoops said. “That pulls us together. With dad getting older, he can drive the horses and that has allowed us to stay closer.”
Misty Lane Farms Performance Horses offers decorated horses and carriages for weddings in the designated wedding colors. The bride and groom may also chose from either a gold pinstriping and tan roof and interior carriage or an ivory carriage with burgundy interior and a black roof.
“The biggest thing is that the horses bring a sense of royalty to the wedding,” Stoops said. “They bring joy and that makes the wedding unique, one of a kind.”
With the carriages and horses being able to travel up to five miles, the Stoops family has come across a multitude of people in the community who want to know more about the horses.
Stoops, an agriculture teacher, said that she loves to educate the public about the horses and could do so at public events the performance horses appeared at, such as Christmas in July and other town events that provide an opportunity for potential customers.
“The public events are a longer day, but are very rewarding,” Stoops said. “The smiles the horses bring to the kids' faces offer a glow.”
Throughout the pandemic, the Stoops were busy, scheduling 15-minute time slots for families in the community to take a ride on the vinyl seats of the carriage.
“It was Christmas joy when we were going through such a difficult time as a country,” Stoops said.
Looking to continue expanding their business, the Stoops added a second trailer after Valentine's Day of 2021 to run two carriages simultaneously, as well as adding a black hearse option for funerals.
The way the Stoops approach events is the largest thing that makes them unique.
Everyone in the family is dressed to impress, and the drivers are in top hats, as well as using a team of two horses to allow the horses less work but for a longer period of time.
“The biggest thing is that we tailor our services to you,” Stoops said. “There is no cookie-cutter mold for me. I will do everything I can to make your event your fairy tale and I will do anything that I can to make the fairy tale come true.”