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Nags At Weddings

Years ago, in a past lifetime, I was working as a journalist for a small rural newspaper; covered four major towns and another dozen minor towns/settlements in Western Australia.

One day I get a request to cover the wedding of the son of a prominent local business owner. Mother of the Groom (MoG) was also a big advertiser in our paper so I was tasked to get a pic for the social page as a gesture of good will to her.

So I contact MoG for details of the nuptials. That’s when I get told the Bride has decided that she doesn’t want to take a horse-drawn carriage to the church (so old fashioned), she wants to RIDE THE HORSE DOWN THE MAIN STREET. Good idea but she never factored in the physical difficulty of straddling (as in leg on either side of the horse), while wearing a big floofy white wedding dress and still looking elegant. Forget the strappy stiletto heels for a moment.

Fortunately MoG had used her considerable local connections and managed to find a local farmer with a couple of quiet and presentable nags to loan for the day. I say a couple because there were two of them, two because Mother of the Bride (MoB) has decided that making a grand entrance from the back of a horse is a great idea and she wants a piece of the action…ummm….I mean Mum wants to share in her daughter’s special day!

So we assemble in the carpark at one end of town, at the opposite end of the main street from the church. The Bridesmaids/Best Man/Grooms are all to travel up the street in a fleet of vintage cars followed by the horses.

It was while we were assembled in the carpark that they discovered a rather big hitch in this grand wedding plan. MoB’s decision to ride with her daughter was rather last-minute and she had neglected to find out if her own wedding attire was suitable to riding a horse….remember they are not riding side-saddle?!
MoB has chosen a lovely suit with a mauve jacket, white blouse and mauve skirt….a short (knee length) tight skirt…see my problem? She couldn’t get on the horse very elegantly with such a tight skirt, let alone straddle it.

In the end MoB had to roll that skirt pretty-much up to her groin in order to sit comfortable….roll it up all the way round, not just tuck the back part under her bum and roll a bit of the front in order to free her knees!!

So mother and daughter had to ride almost a mile along the main street of town -in front of lots of curious bystanders (the clip-clop of hooves on asphalt always makes heads turn)- with mum practically using her skirt as a pink belt, showing the world her knobbly knees, veiny calves and cottage-cheese thighs. The bride’s wedding dress was also bunched up in a rather odd fashion (again forgot to check the physics of riding a horse when designing her outfit).

That was probably the most bizarre wedding I ever had to photograph; the poor official (wedding) photographer and I had to work REALLY hard to get some “decent” photos of that event! basically a lot of shots side-on with bride in front and slightly ahead so her body or the horse’s neck hid mum’s legs.

Pity the bride, you don’t want to censor you wedding photos to hide what color knickers your MUM was wearing!   0411-11

With that story leading off today’s post, here are some videos of weddings and horses gone bad.  The first demonstrates that even the best of horses can be startled by something as common as people clapping….

I suspect in this next video the pair of horses had not been desensitized to the flapping, white, drapey things at their heads and when they  catch a glimpse from behind their blinkers, the panic ensues as they try to flee these scary things at their heads.

I suspect the horses in this video were not desensitized as well as they could have been to loud music.  While the driver pops them with the whip when they balk, he doesn’t appear to be using his other method of control, his voice.   And the screaming guests make matters worse because they spook the horses further.  For God’s sake, if you see horses getting out of control, shut your mouth!

This last video demonstrates an epic fail on so many levels.  What kind of idiots bring a stallion AND a  mare in heat to work a wedding?  When the stallion mounts the mare, the danger to people, vehicles passing by, the horses is unbelievably high.   And then you have the idiot yelling “whoa” while another is whipping.  Talk about mixed signals.   The moron  who kicks the stallion in the groin….if he is the stallion’s handler/owner, he’s saving face by taking it out on the animal rather than dealing with the reality that his animal is poorly trained and handled.   The moral of the stories is, if you want horses at your wedding, make sure the people handling them are experts.


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  • kingshearte April 12, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Am I the only one who wonders why, if you simply must ride a horse for your processional, for the love of whatever, would you *not* do it sidesaddle? As a general rule, I’m certainly a part of this century and think that astride is a much more sensible way of riding a horse. But there’s simply no elegant way of doing that in a dress – any dress –, and if all you’re really doing is riding a short distance at a sedate pace, on a (hopefully) reasonably well-trained horse, I just can’t fathom why you wouldn’t go sidesaddle.

    A pencil skirt is still going to be an issue, but at least it wouldn’t leave you basically riding around in your underwear.

  • Lady Godiva April 12, 2011, 6:27 pm

    My brother and SIL had a horse and carriage for their wedding, to transport them and their parents from the church and around our village green to the hall where the reception was held. The horses were a lovely pair of Haflingers (small palomino draft horses), and were perfectly behaved, the carriage was an old-fashioned “surrey with the fringe on top,”and it added to the traditional tone of their home town wedding. Their experience was what everyone thinks they’ll be getting when they plan to have a horse and carriage for their wedding.

    But I’m a lifelong professional horseperson, and I made sure to hire a licensed carriage company that was experienced with weddings, safety-minded and well insured, who took great pains to have horses that were well-trained and correctly handled. Having some friend of a friend offer to drive their horse and carriage, or bringing your own horses to the ceremony (if they’re not properly prepared and as bombproof as a well-trained police horse) is asking for spectacular trouble. (I have lesson horses that will carry therapeutic clients kindly and safely, but I’d never consider bringing them to a wedding!) And even if the horses are well trained and handled, horses are animals and any animal can be unpredictable if placed in the wrong circumstances. So to do this, you need really good planning, with many safety precautions. It’s not for everybody!

    Most people today don’t realize that when the automobile was invented, it was hailed as a great advance in safety that would reduce the number of dangerous road accidents caused by runaway horses. (Little did they know!)

  • PermieWriter April 12, 2011, 7:16 pm

    Jays, I’m sorry, but that’s been the state of the newspaper industry for as long as we’ve had one. I’m sure Publick Occurances Both Foreign and Domestick did meaningless write-ups of good advertisers, just as the small-town paper I used to work for did.

    Of course in all our journalism ethics classes they said that no good journalist would ever do any such thing. Alas. Just one more reason I got out of the newspaper biz.

  • Calliope April 12, 2011, 8:10 pm

    @Allie, there’s nothing wrong with a bride and groom thinking their day is “special.” It is special to them, even if, in the grand scheme of the universe, it doesn’t matter. I’m not a fan of the high-drama spectacle weddings that seem to be all the rage right now, but I also wouldn’t have worn a pair of sweatpants to my own wedding (or anybody else’s, for that matter). My wedding day ranks among the most important days of my life, and while I don’t imagine it was that big a deal to anyone else besides my husband, I don’t think we were wrong–much less rude–to dress up and throw a party.

  • majuba April 12, 2011, 8:54 pm

    Hi All
    I’m the origional poster of that story and I’ll hang my head in shame. I seriously didn’t intend to be mean or bitchy towards the MoB by being nasty over the state of her legs. I guess I was being a little over-dramatic, trying a little too hard to describe the ‘full glory’ of the sight of mum with her very public display of bare legs.

    It really was a rather funny sight…at least the horses were well behaved =)

    At the time of the story I was a VERY junior Cub Reporter. It is a very small paper and I guess it had been a bit of a slow news week if the editor decided to run the story of a Bride riding along mainstreet to her wedding.

    Will you forgive me for my mistake?

  • phoenix April 12, 2011, 9:36 pm

    I don’t see it as inherently wrong to describe the MoB’s phsyical state. She chose to make a fool of herself by behaving inappropriately, and because of that she displayed more than she should. People saw it, she looked ridiculous, that was the point of the story.

    I might be wrong on this one, but I would have described this the same way if telling a friend of how silly a grown woman made herself look.

    Perhaps it isn’t the kindest, but I read it as a sort of cautionary tale: if you don’t have thighs to be proud of, keep them covered and don’t hike up your skirt in public.

  • Amp2140 April 13, 2011, 1:48 am

    I have some issue with the commentary on the last video. If you watch, the rider on the stallion isn’t in the wedding party, or at least isn’t the owner of both the driving horses and the stallion. Stallions can be a handful, but if you have one and haven’t bred him, it can be difficult to predict his behavior. Horses, unlike humans, don’t have periods. Having a mare in heat is less obvious, especially if you don’t breed horses. I’m sure the carriage driver has geldings and mares, particularly ones that match, as you can see. Then it doesn’t matter. Sometimes she will get a little moody, but it is managable for him. Randomly having a stallion come from nowhere isn’t something you can predict. If he unhooked her and allowed her to move away, or if he just simply made sure an actual breeding didn’t occur, he could just let this be an amusing blooper on the wedding tape, and all would be fine.

    I understand the logic of kicking the horse. I don’t agree with it, but clearly tempers were boiling. The mare’s owner didn’t want a pregnant horse, which would have cost him money. I understand efforts (even stupid ones) to get the stallion off the mare. Once the stallion was on the ground, he should have tended his own horses. He let one back up into traffic.

  • AmandaElizabeth April 13, 2011, 4:22 am

    Even if the horse is perfectly well behaved, problems can arise.

    My daughter attended a wedding, where the bride had ridden horses all her life. She wanted her favourite mount present at the wedding so he was beside the wynch gate as she arrived. She went up to him and patted him on his nose, whereupon the horse took a great chomp out of her wedding bouquet. Nothing phased the MOH gave the bride her bouquet and took over the flowers of another bridesmaid. This went down the line until it reached the smallest,about 4 years old who was left with nothing. Which she told her mother in a big loud voice as soon as then entered the church

  • Bint April 13, 2011, 6:04 am

    Agreed with Phoenix. The MOB is displaying something people would want to keep to themselves! If she had toned, tanned, terrific thighs we’d all be thinking it didn’t sound so bad. She looked awful, and she looked worse because when you have cottage cheese thighs, the last thing you want to do is show them off at a wedding.

    I don’t see the difference between pointing this out and pointing out that ‘everyone saw her stiff, over-lacquered hair falling down’. It paints a vivid picture, it’s presumably accurate – it’s a bit much to assume the OP’s just saying it to be snide.

  • Michelle P April 13, 2011, 8:24 am

    @Calliope, I think the point Allie was trying to make is that couples do not need to go over the top just because it’s their wedding. Having animals in a ceremony is going overboard and can be dangerous. Yes, your wedding day is special, but putting others in danger and having an entitled attitude about it is wrong, which I believe is what Allie was saying.

    @majuba, you’re fine as far as I’m concerned; I have flabby thighs too and even when I didn’t, it is undignified to display yourself in public as the MOG did. No need to hang your head in shame.

    My father has owned, trained, and sold horses for over thirty years. I’ve been around them all my life, and wouldn’t dream of having them in a wedding, even with a carriage. The most well trained horse and the most professional trainer in the world does not matter when an animal gets spooked. How many videos of stuff like this happening have we all seen?

    They don’t call them wild animals for nothing!

  • Wink-n-Smile April 13, 2011, 10:08 am

    Even if your body is that of a Greek goddess, please don’t hike up your skirt in public, especially at your daughter’s wedding.

  • Enna April 13, 2011, 10:56 am

    “I own an Amish trained driving pony and 18 wheeled tractor trailers can pass her on the road, tooting their horns, and she’s not fazed one bit. It’s all in the training.”

    @ Admin: it also depends on the temperment of the horse too – some horses and ponies could handle what your pony can others can’t. For example: one poney maybe good for children to learn to ride on in a riding school but not for children to ride on the road/in public: the poney/horse used for road riding may “like” road riding more.

    It is a mixture of how well the horse has been trained and what experince the animal has: equally important is the horse handler’s own training and expirence. Trust is a big thing as well: the horse must be able to trust its owner. The 4th video was shocking that is animal abuse: treating a horse like that is a good way to get broken ribs or worse. If the stallion isn’t a breeding horse he needs to be castrated. A properly trained horse handler would have avoided the situation if possible or would read the warning sings in his/her horse and act accodingly. The first video – the bride hung on – she is either a horse rider herself or she has had lessons/lucky but the horse handler also had the animal on the rope so he could control and calm the horse down. The other videos it looks like a spooked horse and a poorly trained horse handler. The horses might not have been properly trained or “broken in”.

    @ Another Laura – if the horse is treated right and prodcedure followed then there is nothing wrong – with situations depeicted in the above clip I see your point though. I was at a wedding where there were horses and they got a bit “stampy” the handlers had them under control, asked guests to move away so the horses didn’t get too upset or spooked. Horses were fine.

    I also don’t like the way the OP described the MOB’s legs – very disrespetful and unclassy, along with being ageist and sexist. It would be better to say “She was showing off too much leg for a wedding” rather then get insultive and offensive. So if the MOB had sterotypically “beautiful” or “sexy” legs” it would be okay? If it wasn’t a wedding – if she was in a swimsuit and a beechdress riding a horse on the beech would it be so wrong her showing of leg then? It wouldn’t bother me.

  • Enna April 13, 2011, 10:57 am

    I think the OP is making his/her own ettiqute blunders too.

  • Kennedar April 13, 2011, 8:13 pm

    AMP2140: I’m sorry, but I will never understand kicking an animal unless a person is in danger. There is no excuse to kick a horse, and esp there!! While I agree and understand that everyone involved might not have known that the mare was in heat, who thought it would be a good idea to have a stallion and a mare there at all? Whoever organized this deserves most of the blame, with a big chunk going to the person kicking the horse. Even if 2 different owners were involved, they should have communicated before the wedding day to ensure that this could not have happened. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Allie April 13, 2011, 8:25 pm

    Calliope, I have no objection to getting dressed up or having a party, or even having animals at your wedding, provided they are not abused. What I’m tired of are bridezillas who want increasingly bigger and splashier weddings because they think their day should be MORE special than anybody else’s, and who then get upset when (what a surprise) everything doesn’t go perfectly as planned.

    I know someone who spent almost as much time planning her wedding as she ended up being married to the guy. She prattled on incessently about her wedding for over two years (first it was going to be in a castle, then it was a destination wedding, and on and on). She ended up going with quantity over quality: she had two engagement parties, two showers and two weddings (one out of town). They divorced after 3 years. My day was special to me. I married at 11, worked from 12:30 to 9 and celebrated with beer and philly cheese steaks after work. We celebrated our 21st anniversary last November.

  • Enna April 16, 2011, 10:07 am

    @ Amp2140 – there was no excuse to kick the horse – it’s a good way to get kicked or attacked by the horse yourself, that man was lucky the horse didn’t turn on him. The only time lashing out at an animal is excpetable is when an individual is being attacked by an animal and they lash out in self defence to stop themselves getting mauled or killed. As for the expense of a pregnant mare – persue the owner of the stallion for the costs in the couts if needs be. It’s the owner’s fault for not being able to control the stallion properly. As for “If you don’t breed horses” and “sometimes she (mare) can get a bit moody” “Randomly having a stallion come from nowhere isn’t something you can predict. ” – it doesn’t matter if the handler is a breeder or not – anyone who has proper expierence with horses and is properly trained knows how horses behave and the importance of keeping space and distance from unkown horses and their owners. The stallion’s rider either allowed or guided the stallion right by the mare!

  • Hollanda, UK April 16, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Ok. I would personally choose not to ride a horse to our wedding. It sounds romantic and could look beautiful, BUT you cannot predict how an animal – particularly one that size – will react to anything. I just choose not to be a Bridezilla…our wedding will be special TO US and TO OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Bragging to friends “We spent £x,000” on our wedding does not appeal to me. Neither does money grabbing or being a gimme. I hope that by reading this site I will avoid sending myself to Ehell. 🙂

  • Mrs Jones April 23, 2011, 1:49 pm

    The problem is that people by and large have lost sight as to the meaning of a marriage and I for one, is completely bored with the more and more ridiculous stunts people dream up in order to make their wedding, I assume, memorable.

    Wedding have become so god-awful boring and predictable because of self-centred bride and grooms just wanting to put on a show, regardless of their guest’s comfort and need that I try to avoid them whenever I can. And another thing, could some of you potential brides just cover up once in a while? Being half naked might turn your husbands on, but it does nothing for most of your guests.

    When it comes to weddings, not stunts needed just Keep It Simple, good food and good company and keep it moving.

  • Enna April 25, 2011, 10:31 am

    @ Mrs Jones: what do you mean half naked? Oh dear have you been so some weddings where the bride has had a wardrobe malfunction? (A bit like what happened here).

  • Mrs Jones April 25, 2011, 3:16 pm

    Hi Enna, I’m not a prude, at least I don’t think I am, but there is only so many strapless, backless or plunging dresses you can take without starting to feel nauseous. In all the head shots, the bride invariably looks naked, apart from the Vail if she is wearing one.

    I’ve lost count at the number of brides I’ve with beefy forearms, shoulders like wrestlers and enough back-fat to put most truckers to shame. Short brides look ever shorter and squarer wearing these types of dresses so I could never work out their attraction.

    I used to enjoy going to weddings, but now I spent too much time having to avert my eyes from bride, bridesmaid , mother and even some of the guests! There comes a point when you just long to see something original or a little bit quirky to break the monotony.

    Rant over, just my personal opinion you understand.

  • Elizabeth May 17, 2011, 8:48 am

    I know this was posted a while ago, but I just came upon this and was compelled to post:

    It’s for reasons seen in the video and outlined by the more experienced posters who have worked with animals before that I chose not to include an animal in my wedding. My husband owned a dog, Murphy, a 50 lb border collie/fox hound mix when we met, and over time, I fell in love with both of them. On a quiet evening at home, my then-boyfriend tied the ring to Murphy’s collar and had the dog bring me the ring so they both could propose to me, which was beautiful. When we started wedding planning, I originally wanted Murphy to be a ring-bearer dog – it sounded like such a cute idea, and it echoed our proposal so nicely.

    But the more we planned the wedding, the more we realized that it would be such a miserable and confusing day for Murphy. The combination of new location + new people + bride and groom nerves would have put our poor anxious dog’s nerves on edge, which would have made him act out. The more planning we did, the more the idea just sounded more and more like we were courting disaster. Murphy wound up spending our wedding and honeymoon at a doggie hotel where he was totally spoiled and pampered.

    We put Murphy’s needs above the vastly less important needs of “Our Special Daaaayyyy” and looking back, I’m so glad we did. I wish these horse handlers had taken the animal’s needs into consideration before they booked these poor animals for these events. I wish the wedding parties had realized that animals are not toys, and don’t always do exactly what they ‘should’ because they don’t give a rat’s you-know-what about your “Special Daaaayyyy.” And it would have ruined my wedding day to see a horse handler kicking a horse like in the last video; just watching a bit of it made me cry.

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