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Rider who expected simple wedding delighted by surprise party including her horse

A rider who had expected her Covid-affected wedding to “pass by unnoticed” was overjoyed when friends at her livery yard arranged a reception — with her horse as guest of honour.

Rachel Collins married Roger Taylor at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone, Kent, on 23 July, in a civil ceremony, followed by the unexpected party.

Rachel told H&H she and Roger had originally planned to hold a double celebration.

“It was Roger’s 50th, and we’ve been together 15 years, engaged for 14, so we thought we really should get married, and have a joint party,” she said. “Every time we’d planned to do it before, we’d ended up buying a new horse or something — priorities!”

Rachel said the idea had been to have a civil ceremony, followed by a church blessing and the party.

“With Covid, we couldn’t do the other elements, so we said we’d do those when it’s safe, and just go ahead with the civil ceremony,” she said.

“The intention was a really quiet ceremony with a couple of witnesses, but the people at the yard thought they couldn’t let that happen.”

Picture by Sally Scott Photography

The team at international dressage rider David Rumsey’s yard, where Rachel keeps her 17.2hh Rheinlander gelding fine-time (Muddy), with whom she competes at CPEDI3* level in para dressage and medium in able-bodied competition, had pulled out all the stops.

“They said why didn’t we go there to take some photos afterwards,” Rachel said. “We arrived at the yard to find balloons, cake, champagne, everyone dressed up, then they appeared with Muddy, beautifully turned out and plaited.

“It was a total surprise, and really, really lovely. I was blown away by their kindness.”

The party enjoyed a buffet, cake made by David’s mother and champagne, in a socially distant manner, while Muddy also starred in the wedding photos.

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“He was a bit slippery as he’d had coat-shine spray on!” Rachel said. “That was a bit exciting, in my dress, but he behaved so well, he didn’t look at a thing.”

Rachel said Roger, who also rides but does not currently have a horse, also thoroughly enjoyed the party and was delighted Muddy was there.

“He loved it,” she said. “During these weird times, it was a day that could have passed unnoticed but they made it so special.”

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