A stunt rider thrilled the crowd at the Great Yorkshire Show (GYS) with more than just his equestrian display when he proposed to his girlfriend in the main arena.
The delighted crowd applauded as Ben Atkinson, of Atkinson Action Horses, dropped to one knee in front of his unsuspecting girlfriend Georgie Jackson — who said yes.
Ben, 27, told H&H the feat had involved a huge amount of planning.
“At Christmas we were talking about what sort of proposal she’d like,” he said. “George is quite a private person so I thought she’d say she’d want it to be just me and her, but she said ‘I want big, and I want public!’
“I thought ‘I’ve got quite a public life, so I’m sure I can do that’.”
Ben knew the GYS was special to Georgie, 22, who had been every year since she was a child.
“It’s my favourite show too, and the only one all of both our families would be at so it was perfect,” he said.
Ben’s preparations included subtly ascertaining Georgie’s opinions on various rings, and collaborating with her mother on the right size. That all went smoothly, but getting her into the arena was another matter.
“She’s a farrier and a dressage rider; she has no interest in performing,” Ben said. “So I said I was down one rider and ‘I really need you to ride for me, I’m really stuck’. She said ‘Fine, for you, I’ll do it’.”
More subterfuge was needed with Ben’s team; there was a rehearsal involving Georgie, then another practice at which she was not present.
And after the display, with a favourite song of Georgie’s playing, Ben did the deed.
“It was so stressful!” he said. “I was working seven horses at liberty in front of everyone, it was pretty full-on, and I kept thinking ‘don’t lose the ring, don’t lose the ring’,” he said.
“I’d told her I was going to ditch my lunge whip and needed her to wait under the president’s box. Then I called her over and I could see her mouthing ‘What?’; she had absolutely no idea, then I got down on one knee.
“I had two horses ready and we did a lap of honour, with no bridles, to celebrate. It was amazing, and both our families were there so we went back to the lorry for champagne.”
Ben added that the reaction of the crowd was “incredible”, and his horses did not bat an eyelid at it. Then he found out the next day why the setting had been even more special.
‘At least he can wash his jodhpurs now!’
“I kept taking my glove off to look at the ring, and thinking ‘has this actually happened?’”
“George spoke to her grandmother and found out it was at that show her grandfather proposed to her too,” he said. “That makes it even more special.
“George loved it and she loves the ring – and the ring fits. It was amazing.”
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