A dressage rider unable to have a single guest at her wedding after waiting 15 years to marry was joined by her horse as a guest of honour for her special day.
GB para athlete Rachel Taylor, 49, and Roger Taylor, 50, were told they would not be allowed a single guest at their wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic when they married in July.
But the pair were determined to tie the knot after their 14-year engagement and were delighted when their horse Muddy turned up as their guest of honour.
Pals arranged for the four-legged friend, officially named Fine-time, to attend a surprise mini-reception after the happy couple said “I do” at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone.
Rachel from Sandwich in Kent, said: “They’d bathed him and plaited his mane and made him look really clean and shiny. He just looked so beautiful.
“What they did for us and having him there, it made everything for us.
“I had a picture of me on him an a picture with him in my dress.
“It was such a lovely thing for them to do and Roger and I were totally overwhelmed by their kindness.”
Rachel, a housing development manager at Dover District Council, was born with arthrogryposis with physical deformities to both her legs, spine and right arm.
The rare condition affects her joints and muscles, limiting her strength, coordination and range of movements.
Rachel rides Muddy every day and has been competing in paradressage for five years, representing GB for the last three years.
Last year they became national champions at silver level, progressing them to gold level, and the pair now have their sights on the Paris Paralympics 2024.
Rachel and Roger, also a keen horse rider, first met in Derby and were engaged to be married for 14 years.
After a long wait, the pair were not prepared to let coronavirus hold back their wedding any longer and decided to proceed despite the restrictions.
Rachel said: “Every time we thought of getting married before, we would end up buying another horse or a lorry instead.
“So this time we thought we are not going to let anything put us off, even Covid.
“We did have a church and reception planned but we cancelled that and just had the registry office.”
But afterwards upon their arrival at their reception, they were delighted to see Muddy turned out as if he were ready to compete along with a mini spread of food and champagne.
Rachel said: “Muddy and I have a really great partnership. He’s like one of my closest friends.
The horse rider thanks her friend Sally Scott from the stables who did their wedding shoot.
She added: “They’re the perfect memories of our day.”