Passing the Reins Is All in the Family for This Small Business

At Patriot Software, we’re committed to providing accounting and payroll software that lets small business owners keep their time and money for what they love: running their business!

Our #PatriotSpotlight customer success stories celebrate and inspire U.S. small business owners across the country. For the December small business spotlight, we spoke to Dianna Borges, owner of Nevada-based sleigh and carriage ride company, Borges Sleigh and Carriage Rides.

Borges Sleigh and Carriage Rides has been in business for over five decades and continues to give guests fun sleigh and carriage rides with breathtaking scenery and memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.

Can you tell me a little history about your business?

Borges Sleigh and Carriage Rides is a family-run business that operates sleigh rides in Sand Harbor State Park, Nevada. We started operating in 1967 (50+ years ago!). My husband Dwight’s father, Sam Borges, won a pony in a raffle and the rest is history.

The Borges family named the pony Little Joe (taken from their favorite character in Bonanza), and the idea of horse-drawn sleigh rides began to build. It started out with Sam giving the neighborhood kids pony rides in 1967. Soon after, Sam had his first horse and sleigh. Then, Sam and his wife, Rosie, made an agreement with Brooks Park for sleigh rides around his cattle field during the winter.

After many years, the family business was passed down to my husband and me. Now, our children also help run the family business with us and share our passion for it. We’ve been very fortunate over the years and are so grateful to be in business for so long.

family and horse

Can you tell me a little bit about what you offer?

Right now, we are basically Santa’s personal Uber! We do a lot of special events during this time of year, like tree lightings and Santa sleigh rides, and we love being a part of it. We’ve already done quite a few tree lighting events this season, as well as Christmas caroling and other special city events.

In addition to being busy during the holidays, we do carriage rides for birthdays, marriage proposals, and weddings. We’ve also had customers use our services for Quinceañeras and Sweet 16s, which are really neat.

Year-round, we offer one-hour tours and 30-minute tours. In the winter, we have sleigh rides on the north shore near Sand Harbor, which is gorgeous and right on the lake. In the summer, we do a more city-type tour that’s near shops and restaurants, and we also offer rides down to the lake. Right now, we have about 15 horses that operate.

How many hours do you usually work per week?

What we do is not a job … it’s a lifestyle. I always tell people that it’s not as simple as turning a key and switching on some lights. We’re always on the job. Every morning at 6 a.m., we feed the horses. And every night at 6 p.m., we feed them again. We have pastures and fences to take care of, along with our other tasks for the day. If the horses get out of the stalls at 2 a.m., we have to go round them up in our pajamas. To put down the number of hours is difficult for us.

We’re open year-round with shorter hours during the wintertime, but it’s hard to really say how many hours we work because we do so much. Even though it’s a lot of hard work, we have a privileged lifestyle. We work hard and long hours, but we live on a beautiful piece of property with our beloved horses and we do a job that makes us and others happy.

What’s the most difficult part about running a business?

The hardest part about running our business is the public’s opinions about our type of business and the industry that we’re in. A lot of people assume that the majority of us only work our animals to make money. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We love our horses and want to see them treated right. I blame the media in many ways for hurting our industry’s reputation.

One of the biggest challenges we face is helping people understand that horses need this work and exercise to stay healthy. And honestly, our horses love their jobs! I have two horses that are in their 30s and we can’t work them as much anymore because of their age. But, they seem to get down and depressed when they don’t have human contact. The horses truly enjoy being a part of the team and working. Of course, there are plenty of regulations that we honor, and we always do what’s best for our animals.

It’s challenging because others have destroyed the reputation of owning horses. Because of the misconception of horses, we try to be as transparent as possible when talking to customers and others about our horses.

The truth is, not enough people are around horses to understand them. It’s kind of like those who like little spiders as pets. Who am I to judge that? So, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

If it weren’t for the thousands of people we know, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Our customers know how passionate we are about our animals, and it’s all worth it when we see kids’ eyes light up when they see one of our horses.

sleigh ride

How does Patriot Software help you run your small business?

Patriot has been very flexible for us. It was very easy for us to learn, especially since we’re not accountants. We’re a small business that wears many hats, and we’ve found that it’s efficient.

Getting hold of people at Patriot for help has been relatively easy. We’ve tried larger companies in the past, and it was always a ton of more work. Patriot is cost-effective and it’s super easy once you learn the software. You guys have a great product and it has given us one less thing to worry about when it comes to running our business.

When it comes to your business, what are you most proud of?

We’re proud of our motto and mission: to make people happy. Our main objective is making people happy and giving others memories that last a lifetime. It’s a huge blessing being able to offer something so special to our customers. There’s a special group of people who can do that, and it takes a special person to touch our guests’ hearts. Our team does just that. We love our animals and love sharing that with our guests and team members.

When you’re not busy working, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Dwight and I travel quite a bit around the world and country. My favorite place that I’ve been to is Antarctica. My husband would probably say Costa Rica was his favorite. We love to travel and spend a lot of time with our family and horses on our ranch. Sometimes on our days off, we get on our horses and go on a trail to give them a little exercise. We work hard, but also play hard.

When we travel, we like to go on sleigh rides all over the globe. We really enjoy meeting new people around the world and learning about their culture. When you travel a lot, you start seeing that you have more things in common with others than you think and that there are more similarities than differences in the world.

Any words of advice to people hoping to impact the community with their own small business?

A piece of advice that we were told from my husband’s family and that we’ve told our kids is this: Find what it is you love doing and make money doing it. All businesses have their challenges. But if you love what you’re doing, you’ll make it through them. What matters is that you love what you do. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

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