An electrician who had never ridden and was allergic to horses had six months of riding lessons in secret in order to surprise his girlfriend with a horseback proposal.
Ryan Schubert had to run into the house and jump into the shower after lessons – and drive to his aunt’s house to get his jodhpurs washed – so Georgina D’Onofrio did not realise he had been riding, at Rockstar Equitation Centre, Cannock.
When he felt ready to pop the question, he told Georgina on a Friday night that he was taking her out for all “all you can eat” meal in Wrexham.
“After about a hour’s drive, he said ‘I think we must be lost’,” Georgina told H&H.
“I got a bit worried and looked at the sat nav, to see we were going in the opposite direction. After three or four hours’ drive, we ended up on a beach.”
The pair stayed in a chalet that night, then on the Saturday morning, Ryan surprised his girlfriend by producing not only her riding clothes – which he had sneaked out of the laundry basket – but his own.
“He told me he’d been learning in secret and that we were going to ride with the Cumbria Heavy Horses on the beach; I was laughing and crying at the same time,” Georgina said. “Part of me was excited, but part was thinking ‘How have you got away with that for six months!’”
Georgina said she had always ridden, but that she lost her 30-year-old horse at about the same time she gave birth to her daughter Erin, who had a cleft palate, and that her mother had also had a heart attack at about the same time.
As a result of all these issues, Georgina lost her confidence. She owned one horse who had to be sold as things “didn’t work out”, and although she had since bought another, she was very nervous about riding.
“Ryan had done all that as he wanted me to get my confidence back,” she said.“Then these massive 18hh horses turned up and I was terrified!”
In rain and strong winds, the pair rode along the beach with escorts, who were in on the surprise.
“Ryan jumped off, went down on one knee and asked; ‘Will you marry me?’ Georgina said. “Everyone was saying ‘What’s your answer?’ but I was saying ‘What?’ because it was so windy, I couldn’t hear him – then I realised, and I said yes.”
The pair have set a date, 14 August 2020, and booked their venue – and both are still riding.
“The girls at Rockstar didn’t think they’d see him again but he’s booked some more lessons, and I think after the wedding, he’ll get a horse of his own,” Georgina said. “He’s ridden my horse too since we got back – I think he’s a better rider than me, after six months!”
Ryan revealed the details of his secrecy to Georgina; the staff at Rockstar were all in on the surprise, and had to pretend they did not know him when he arrived with Georgina for Erin’s lessons, while his trainer’s number was saved in his phone under a different name.
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“He had to jump in the shower as soon as he got home every time and his jodhpurs hadn’t been washed for ages as he had to take them to his auntie’s and she lives miles away,” Georgina said. “I must have been that smelly myself, I didn’t notice it – but at least he can wash his jodhpurs now!”
Ryan also plans to ride up to the altar to make his vows.
“I still can’t believe it, it’s like something out of a film,” Georgina said. “For someone who’s ridden her whole life, and then been through that trauma, this got me riding again. He’s given me my wings back.”
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