Horse wears ‘will you marry me?’ rug in rider’s ‘perfect proposal’

  • A rider who thought she was going to her livery yard for a photoshoot was overwhelmed to be greeted by her horse wearing a rug with the words “Will you marry me?”

    Clair Diggle had had a “shocking” day yesterday (19 February) and was in no mood to go to Beeston Park Livery, near Stockport, to take part in what she thought was a photoshoot for an equestrian magazine. But having been persuaded to go, she walked in to find her “amazing” girlfriend Kirsty Chambers holding Clair’s cob Bruce, in an indoor school transformed for the proposal.

    “It went to plan, apart from a few bumps,” Kirsty told H&H. “I’m just glad she said yes!”

    Clair told H&H she and Kirsty have been together nearly 18 months.

    “She’s not at all horsey, she’s into football,” Clair said. “I didn’t like football and she didn’t like horses, and the agreement was we’d both make an effort, and we’ve stuck to it. She was terrified of horses but now she’ll hold Bruce and go in his stable. I didn’t know the first thing about football but now I watch every week.”

    Clair had no idea of Kirsty’s plan, which involved everyone at Beeston Park.

    “They’re all liars!” Clair joked. “There was a message in the yard WhatsApp group from the owner a few weeks ago, saying the yard would be closed for work to be done on 19 February; I assumed it was on the drive. Then a couple of weeks later, she sent a message saying it was actually a magazine photoshoot and they wanted to meet the liveries, and could we wear non-horsey clothes. I said fine, I’d be there.”

    Clair had been told to turn up at 4pm but had not had the best day; having had issues with her car over the weekend, it was her horsebox’s turn to go wrong.

    “I was using it to move some stuff for work, and as I was filling it up, I noticed a chemical smell,” she said. “I got it checked and the mechanic’s words were ‘It’s p***ing out diesel’. After all these happenings, I texted Kirsty to say I wasn’t up for going to the yard.”

    Concerned about her plan, Kirsty tried to persuade Clair to go, saying she should not let yard owner Vicki Arden down. This did not work, and it was only when Vicki replied to Clair’s message in uncharacteristically terse style, that Clair decided to go.

    Picture by Samantha Gill Photography

    “I got there and Vicki was lingering in the drive, which is unusual; I’ve never seen her standing still!” Clair said. “I walked into the indoor and saw the LED light boxes and balloons, and thought ‘That’s cute’, then realised what they said. Then I saw Kirsty with Bruce, thought ‘What’s going on?’ – and then she went down on one knee.

    “I was pretty dazed, then went into panic mode about getting Bruce back for the vet, then my mum, grandma and best friend were on the phone, and Kirsty’s mum; it was a bit overwhelming. Then when we got into bed, I just burst into tears as it had sunk in.”

    Kirsty had put in a huge amount of effort; not just bringing Vicki, both families and the other liveries into the secret but also collecting Bruce. The nine-year-old traditional cob has been staying at a rehab yard after an injury, so Kirsty had to contact the yard and arrange for him to be taken to Beeston Park, and back in time to see the vet the next morning. Vicki had prepared a stable for him and Clair’s sister had been to the rehab yard to groom and plait him for the occasion.

    “It was amazing,” Clair said. “And of course I said yes! The perfect equestrian proposal.”

    Kirsty added that she had felt sick with nerves, but she wanted the occasion to be personal.

    “It was the perfect setting,” she said. “And I’m sure Bruce – and the dogs – will make an appearance at the wedding.”

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