Wanda English Burnett
Honoring fallen and deceased veterans is something a Moores
Hill man takes very seriously.
In fact, Stephen Thompson, himself a disabled Vietnam veteran,
believes so much in what he does, he told The Versailles
Republican I owe it to every veteran. What he
owes is a ride to a military persons final
resting place in style - by a horse drawn caisson, designed
and partially built by Thompson.
I fought with my wife for eight years over building the
caisson, he noted. Thompson said his wife, Karen, thought
it was morbid.
However, this year Stephen decided he had to complete the project
and now Karen agrees. Doing these funerals has really
changed him, Karen said of her husband of 15 years.
Stephen designed the caisson and has already served several
families including one here in Ripley County, when Cpl. John
Bishop was killed in Afghanistan in September.
Stephens horse, Fancy, who pulls the caisson with dignity,
wears a red, white and blue plume.
Patriotism runs deep in Stephens blood. He proudly served
his country in Vietnam and still serves his community and fallen
comrades through his caisson service. Fancy knows the solemn
feeling of a funeral and paces her gait. At a recent soldiers
funeral in Ohio, Stephen said she gently nuzzled a baby as if
to say, it will be all right.
Its not all about sadness for the Thompson family who
also own and operate the Carriage Occasions LLC company. They
raise and care for their own horses on their farm just outside
of Moores Hill and then transport them to Covington, KY, where
they are lovingly cared for each day on the weekend before taking
people for rides around the cities of Covington, Newport, and
Oh, yes, we take them home every night, the Thompsons
noted as they brushed and polished the horses for a weekend
Every detail is attended to right down to the horses getting
a final treat, usually a Jolly Rancher, before they head out
for the evening.
The Thompsons have seven beautifully manicured carriages with
four in operation on a recent excursion. Four of their 11 horses
were used for the weekend - Duchess, who is the newcomer to
the group, a Percheron who is extremely well-mannered; Fancy,
who is the favorite of Stephens, a half Tennessee Walker
and half Percheron; Dubbie, a Standardbred; and Cracker Jack,
a Belgium Draft weighing in at 2000 pounds.
Stephen and his drivers have built a good reputation with restaurants
and businesses in the cities they serve. He has a great working
relationship with Nelmar Hensel, who manages the Boi Na Braza
Brazilian Steak House in the Carew Tower on Vine Street. I
send people to him, he refers them to me, Stephen laughed.
That easy going approach is what might draw people to Stephen,
but his knowledge of the city once he begins a tour is what
sets his rides apart from others. I didnt know anything
about Cincinnati, he admitted, when he started the business
back in 2004. He said he began to study the history of the city
and became thoroughly interested in it for himself. Now he shares
it with others.
Right now the Thompsons stage their horses and carriages out
of an old firehouse in Covington. But, they are looking to purchase
a larger piece of property, also in Covington, where they can
Besides having the caisson, Stephen has plans for a horse drawn
hearse that will be on display.
Beginning with one carriage, the Thompsons have built their
business to what it is today with the knowledge that they will
always serve the veterans. On their website: www.CarriageOccasions.com,
you will find the words, respect, honor, and loyalty.
On a lighter note, you will find carriages of the Thompsons
offering custom horse and carriage rides at their stand on Vine
and 5th streets in front of Tiffanys (under the large
TV screen on the Macys building across from Fountain Square
in Cincinnati) on most weekends - weather permitting.
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Stephen Thompson is pictured with his
favorite horse, Fancy, who pulls the caisson for funerals.