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If you're a horsey lover, you'll know they somehow work their way into every important event in your life - and getting engaged is no exception...
Be my Valentin(o)
Lauren Butcher, from Ramsgate, Kent
I met my partner Acer in September 2015 on a night out with friends.
“What time are you getting up to sort Tino out?” he asked me one evening. My beloved horse Valentino is an 16.2hh Dutch Warmblood. “Early – around 6am,” I replied.
“I’ve got an early start too,” he said. I thought nothing of it, and when I woke up the next morning, on 27 October 2016, he’d already left.
Running late as usual, I legged it down to the yard. Valentino’s stable is the first in the barn and he was the only one left in. As I walked towards him, I noticed he had a red ribbon round his neck.
“What’s going on?” I asked my friends, who were all busy mucking out. In fact, they were all unusually quiet… Nobody replied, so I went into Tino’s stable for a closer look.
There were love hearts attached to the ribbon. Tears poured down my face as I read them — and when I got to the last one, Acer walked round the corner.
He got down on one knee. “Lauren, will you marry me?” he asked softly.
Of course, I had to say yes – it was the perfect proposal! Acer isn’t the most romantic of men so it was a real shock, and all the more touching that he’d gone to such trouble to do something he knew I’d love. I’m hoping to get married at Leeds Castle – and of course Valentino will be involved somehow!
Love on the hunting field
Jane Mannion, from North Norfolk
Back in 1976, I was working for a hunt in Hampshire. My then-boyfriend was in the army and his boss hunted with the pack. We both rode to hounds so that was how we met — love blossomed on the hunting field!
He asked me to marry him but I wasn’t sure so kept putting him off — until one day, he turned up for a day’s hunting on a lovely smart grey horse.
This was a surprise, as he only ever rode the black regiment horses to hounds. He was pretty well turned-out himself, too.
“You’re looking incredibly smart today,” I said, impressed.
He smiled back. “Will you marry me, Jane?” So that’s why he’d scrubbed up for the occasion! How could I refuse?
Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last — but my love for horses has. Forty years later, I’m now a Western style rider.
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‘Pairs dressage brought us together’
Glen Marney, from Ipswich
I started riding when I was 20, and ended up buying an ex-racehorse of my own. To learn how to look after him, I enrolled as a working student at Newton Hall Equitation Centre (NHEC) near Ipswich. One day, the owner of NHEC asked if I’d do a pairs dressage with one of her working students. “I don’t really do dressage,” I said. “Who is it?”
The owner pointed to a girl riding — and WOW! I was blown away by her looks. “I’ll do the pairs dressage,” I said hastily. Kate and I trained together for a week — and we just clicked.
I asked Kate out. She made me wait a week for an answer — and to this day, she claims she only said yes because she was impressed by my lorry! We came last in the dressage but it was the start of something incredible. After that, we went out every weekend competing, sometimes together, and sometimes we just groomed at shows for each other. A year later I asked her to marry me — and 35 years later we’re still riding together.
A few years ago, she bought another ex-racehorse and although I said I’d given up riding, I’ve ended up taking over her horse and competing every weekend I can, sometimes twice.
Kate is my groom, my stablehand and my horse flatwork trainer — but most importantly my wife! Horses brought us together and they’ll always be a special part of our life.