A little over a week now, my friend got married, and I was her photographer. She wanted an absolutely epic entrance – she wanted to ride in on her horse. Her horse is very important to her, almost as important as her groom, and she wanted him to be a part of the wedding.
Being her photographer, I had a front row seat to the show. But also being friends who ride together, I had a back stage pass to the amount of effort it went to make this happen.
The day of the wedding, what guests saw was her elegantly riding up on her high energy horse. What I had seen was almost a full year of her preparing for this moment.
For many equestrians, they might have a calm, quiet horse who would easily take to this task. But her horse, that she loves so much, is not a calm, push button horse. He is a high energy off the track thoroughbred who had many opinions, and had no problem voicing them. And she, while being an experienced rider, had never ridden outside of the arena. The thought of leaving the closed in, safe space was terrifying.
But she was going to make it happen.
The entire wedding was planned around her riding up on her horse. She was going to have the ceremony at the barn, and the only place that was both beautiful and could fit everyone invited, was out in a huge field. She was going to have to leave the arena, and take a little trail ride, wearing her wedding dress, up to a huge crowd.
When we first started riding together, I wasn’t up for trail riding either. I barely knew Stu at this point. So we started with just walking our horses thorough the fields. After that went well, she started riding King at a walk in the field.
After our normal rides in the arena, sometimes we’d venture off into the field, at a walk. I eventually got more comfortable with Stu, so I would ride, too. We started walking around the entire farm, getting more and more comfortable with the idea.
Then she started walking out on her own. Her confidence grew every single ride. She explored the farm, just her and King, riding around.
A few months back, we took the horses out in the field for a ride, and she trotted. Then she was cantering. She had gone from being unable to ride outside the arena, to fully cantering in a completely open field. At this point, we all felt like she would do just fine on her wedding day. She was relaxed, King was relaxed, and it seemed perfect. So far, everything was going great.
A few days before the wedding, the chairs were set up. She took King up there multiple times so he could get used to it. He seemed fine.
Fast forward to the rehearsal. I came to watch, both as a photographer and to fill out the seats. She wanted the seat as full as possible so King would know what to expect. Everyone practiced their entrance walk and the line up, and then she went to bring King up. She mounted up, and begin her ride up.
King freaked out. I can only assume that he got used to the chairs empty, so seeing them with people and music was upsetting to him. King was not having it, and balked and refused to come up to the site. She got off, walked him up there, and showed him the whole site. Then she remounted, and tried to ride him up.
Once again, he was not having it. She schooled him for about an hour or so, trying to get him to listen and simply walk up to the ceremony site. Eventually, he calmed down and did come up, but it was a struggle. Everyone was very concerned for how the wedding day would go.
The day of the wedding, we all started at the reception site, me taking photos, her getting ready. Meanwhile, at the barn, King was getting ready, too. She had hired a professional groom to clean him up and braid his mane (she did a great job!). Her trainer took out King, brought him back up to the reception site and lunged him to get him used to it. When we all showed up, minutes before the ceremony, he was still up there being lunged. Everyone was on edge – we had no idea how this would go.
He was eventually brought down, and he was still tense. He knew something was going on. He definitely knew she didn’t usually come to the barn in a huge white dress. In fact, all the horses on the farm knew something was going on, so they all decided to gallop around their fields. This did not help King’s nerves. The ceremony started, and from the ceremony site, I could still see all the horses galloping around.
Her part came, and she begin her ride. Once again, King balked, but she was not having it. She came through like I haven’t seen before. She basically ordered him to walk up the hill to the ceremony site, and he listened. He ended up in front of the escort horse (a calm lesson horse who was totally fine with all the excitement) and trotted. Although it was a bit rambunctious, she made it all the way up to the ceremony site. No explosions, no runaways, and no falling off.
It was wildly dramatic and so beautiful. It was an incredible bridal entrance.
After that moment, everything relaxed. That was really the toughest part of the day, and everyone, the bride, the wedding planners, the bridesmaids, and her mom, had all been stressing about how it was going to go. But it happened, and it was beautiful. She had prepared, she had done her homework, and she made it happened. Not to mention, after the fact, she said it was actually exciting. She got over being scared, and just took the ride for what it was, difficult as it may have been.
Sometimes the things we want in life are challenging, but we can push through to make it happen. She could have just said, no, it’s too hard, but instead she said, yes, it’s hard, but I’m going to do it, and she pushed through. Now she’ll always have this incredible experience to look back on. It was completely worth the hours upon hours she spent preparing for that five minute ride because life is built on the little experiences we create. The moment may be brief, but the memory lasts a lifetime.
Yes, she did marry her now husband, the whole purpose of the wedding day. But the horse part is the relevant part to this blog. To see more wedding photos or just more about the amazing person this bride is, her instagram is www.instagram.com/nataliaornatascha/