About Shannon Cole – Owner, Carriage Driver, Farrier, Equine Sports Massage Therapist and full time Horse Lover!
Shannon Cole has had the privilege of being with horses for her entire life. The affinity that she has gained by growing up with these magnificent creatures has given her a remarkable sense of responsibility, spirituality, and a greater overall understanding of people and animals. They are truly her passion!
She grew up on a cattle ranch in southwest North Dakota. Her father also had 100 Thoroughbreds that were bred and raced throughout the US and Canada. It was on that farm that she began taking riding lessons at the age of 3 from her older sister, Dr. Joy Cole, DVM, a former competitor with the Equestrian Team of the University of Tennessee, and who is currently a veterinarian in Virginia.
Shannon competed in rodeos and play days in North Dakota ,and was active in the local 4-H until she moved to Lexington, Kentucky at the age of 10 where she began English riding lessons and competed with hunter-jumpers (she trained her own horse to jump) and equitation under saddle well through her teenage years. She lived and competed in New Jersey and Florida for a year before moving to Texas in 1990 at the age of 15, where she has remained ever since.
While in attendance at Texas Women’s University majoring in psychology, she worked part time as a wrangler and riding instructor in McKinney for Jolabec Stables. While in this position, she was approached by a carriage driver from Dallas and given the reins where she promptly fell in love with driving horses. She drove for Dallas Surrey Service for 3 1/2 years until she purchased her own horses and carriage for what has become Happy Trails Carriage Service (formerly Happy Trails Horse-Drawn Carriage Service) on February 5th, 2001. As of January, 2006, she has relocated her service to historic downtown McKinney, Texas. It has been fantastic in McKinney and she is busy as ever.
In 2009, she apprenticed with Joan Green and became a farrier (horseshoer) . Not only does this ensure that her horses have proper shoes, but she is also able to help her clients achieve maximum hoof care for their horses as well. Shannon speciaizes in polyurethane shoes which reduce concussion, improve traction and help horses to be as comfortable as possible. She works by trimming horses when she is not shoeing or driving her own. She no longer does metal shoes since her accident on March 27th, 2015 which left her wrist damaged.
As of October 2015, Shannon gratuated from the KeKino Equine Sports Massage Therapy program under the instruction of Jeannie Gentry. She has added this vital tool to help her personal horses and the horses of her farrier customers stay balanced.
Ms. Cole has had over 19 years worth of continuous driving experience and a lifetime of horse experience. She is actively sought throughout the D/FW Metroplex and Texas for services including:
- surprise engagements
- birthday tours
- Traditional India and Asian matrimonial ceremonies
- romantic cruises through downtown
- television, commercials and film productions
- trimming and shoeing horses
- …. and just about anything else one can imagine, within the realm of safety to her horses and passengers of course.
The Business Partners AKA The Horses
Most of Shannon’s horses are rescues. It is Shannon’s passion to rescue and place horses in their forever homes. Most of her “fur children” have been through some form of abuse, neglect or starvation before she got them at some point in their lives. Healing these beautiful animals, feeding them several times a day and giving them a job where they have a sense of purpose has inspired and fulfilled her life in so many ways. They also have regular massage and the newest polyurethane shoes which provide comfort and traction. Retiring them and keeping them healthy and well fed as long as they live are also what waits for them when they can no longer work. It is an honor to be able to drive a horse that has been abused. It shows the ultimate in trust and just how magical the power of love really is. All of her horses are Missouri Foxtrotters and are related. To read about this amazing breed click here.
Rest in Peace- Across the Rainbow Bridge
Buttermilk , March 19,1987-June 20,2015 and Trigger March 27,1988-July 17, 2012, the original pair who the company was named for, was purchased on December 30th, 2000 from the late Charles Smith, who owned Dallas Surrey Service and was the father of the carriage industry in Dallas. She and her brother Trigger, pictured above, (Buttermilk is in the front on the left side), were rescued by the sheriff in Pasadena, Texas, from severe starvation and cruel beatings. Shannon rehabbed them while they were at Dallas Surrey and with the help of Charles, retrained them to drive. She later trained them to drive single as well. Being rescue horses, they had many issues that with time and love have been overcome. Shannon feels they have healed her more than she has healed them. Buttermilk and Trigger were extremely intelligent (they even knew the traffic lights and routes!) and great with children. Buttermilk was also used for Baraat ceremonies in Indian weddings and in August of 2008 carried CEO Dave Dewalt of Mcafee Virus Scans into the ballroom of the Mariott at Legacy in Plano. Shannon drove Buttermilk and Trigger in downtown Dallas from July 3rd, 2000, while employed by Dallas Surrey Service until she relocated to McKinney. Trigger was retired by the summer 2012 due to cancer. As of July 17th, 2012, Trigger has crossed the rainbow bridge with the assistance of Dr. Balie Inglish White, while Shannon hugged and kissed him, and is now buried on the farm. He is at peace and will never be forgotten for the 12 plus years he gave in service to Happy Trails! He was Buttermilk’s full brother and worked as a pair with her for over 22 years. He is very much missed and loved! Rest in Peace sweet man! Buttermilk continued working until the fall of 2014 on the carriage and did Baraats until 2 weeks before she crossed the Rainbow Bridge again with assistance of Dr. White. She had Spleenic Hemangiosarcoma, which is cancer of the spleen. Both Buttermilk and Trigger are buried side by side on the farm. They will be missed by all they touched.
Smoke – March23,1991-February 16,2016 Smoke was purchased on September 6th, 2002. He was abandoned and starved by his previous owners. It took a year for him to grow out new hooves and get healthy before he was trained by Shannon to ride and drive so he could be a backup or replacement for either Buttermilk or Trigger in the pair. Today, he is fully retired. He was used in the DVD video for the rock band “Journey”, where Jonathan Cain rode him. He has also been ridden into the ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Colinas for a national convention. He was also in a film production in Las Colinas for Scholastic Books. He has been laid to rest next to Buttermilk and Trigger.
Our Current Horses
Jewel was purchased on December 19th, 2006, and was abandoned and starved by a previous owner as a yearling. The owners who got her after that rehabbed her. Shannon bought her after she was brought back to health. She was trained by Shannon to ensure adequate rotation among the other three horses, and to complete the four-in-hand team for special events where four white horses are needed. She is used as a riding horse in weddings and in kids parties. She does Indian weddings and she is the main Unicorn for parties and special events for photo options. Today she is working with Silver as a pair. She is truly a stunning mare!
Shannon drove to Missouri on December 26, 2007, to purchase Silver, her fifth matching white Foxtrotter, and Smoke’s look alike! His owner was in a motorcycle accident and he was left at a friend’s place to be sold where he was neglected and living in a stall three feet deep of manure. Shannon fell in love and loaded him to head home to Texas! His registered name is Missy’s Silver Gem. He is a sweet, laid back horse with a mane as long as your arm. As of May 1, 2008, he has completed his training with Shannon and Smoke, and gave his first ride to a couple celebrating their anniversary in downtown McKinney.
Jasper is one of the newest members of the team. He was purchased in May of 2014 in Joplin, Missouri to work with Silver as the new pair. He is super friendly and sweet. He started his career on September 21st with his first wedding in McKinney at the Cotton Mill.
Shannon drove to Illinois to purchase her newest memnber of the team, Merrilee in April 2015. She is currently driving with her most experienced horse, Silver and learning the trade. She is very kind and sweet and of course related to both Silver and Jasper. Next year she will learn to drive with Jasper so that all three can be rotated to have adequate days off.
Shannon rotates her horses, her “kids”, now to ensure that each horse has adequate “days off” to relax and just enjoy the freedom to run and frolic in the 9 acres of Texas countryside she shares with them. She often stays outside for hours just watching them graze, play and sleep in the sun or shade on their days off. CLICK HERE to view their pedigree and lineage information.
All of her registered horses are descendents of Missouri Foxtrotter grand champion Zane Grey. The ponies, Napoleon, age 9 and Lark age 8 are also rescues and are used as photo op only for unicorn and fantasy shoots. They are super sweet, happy little guys.
Today all of the horses are healthy and eating as much hay and grass as they possibly can. They are clean, unless they roll in the mud of course, and spend their off time as horses were meant to be…playing and running in the fields.