When Tucker Coleman started planning how he would propose to his girlfriend Kelsey Lindstrom, he knew he wanted it to include horses.
Lindstrom, 28, has been riding for more than two decades, and while Coleman isn’t a horse person—other than the occasional trail ride with her—he thought a horse-themed proposal would be perfect for her.
With the help of Lindstrom’s mother, Deanna Lindstrom, Coleman narrowed in on one show on Kelsey’s calendar—the Rainbow Meadow Farm Spring Event Derby, which would take place May 14 in Rochester, Washington—as the site of the proposal.
“It was kind of special because I’ve grown up going out to Rainbow Meadow Farm in Rochester for many years,” said Kelsey, Olympia, Washington. “Since I was probably 6, so I’ve been going out there for 20-plus years, and I remember growing up doing Pony Club camps and Pony Club ratings and just spending time out there with [the owner] Annie [Childress], so it was really special because not only did it involve horses, but it also involved a farm that I have many memories at.”
Coleman ordered two banners reading “Kelsey” and “Will You Marry Me?” to put on the final two cross-country fences and had them sent to her aunt’s house to keep his plans secret. Childress, who has known Kelsey for years, helped with the logistics of pulling it off. Kelsey and her horse Teryn Kazoo were competing in the starter division, and Childress adjusted the schedule such that they’d have plenty of time to remove the banners from the jumps afterwards—and allow for a few photos.
“The tricky part was getting the banners out there,” Coleman said. “It was a beautiful day, but it was still windy. I was stressing out because the warm-up area was directly in front where I had to walk through to get out to the jumps, so her aunt put the banners up underneath my shirt.”
It took more time and staples than he expected, but he made it back before Kelsey’s start time.
Throughout the day, Kelsey had started to get suspicious. In addition to her parents, her brother and sister-in-law, aunts, uncles and grandparents showed up to watch. While everyone in on the plan claimed their presence was due to it being Mother’s Day, Kelsey had questions.
“I was warming up before my dressage, and I looked at my mom, and I was like, ‘Why are you acting so weird?’ ” she recalled. “She had this big grin on her face, and she was like, ‘Nothing, nothing, what are you talking about?’ Before I went out to do my cross-country round, my dad was acting all emotional and weird, and I was like, ‘Dad! What’s wrong? Is everything OK? Do you feel OK?’ They didn’t have a very good poker face.”
While Deanna believed the proposal idea was perfect, she admitted she had some concerns that it would go to plan.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what if she falls off? What if he spooks? What if he refuses?’ ” she said, though she reassured herself that Kelseys’ horse was brave and wouldn’t do something like that. “The whole time I’m a nervous wreck for that reason, because I want to make sure she makes it to that jump.”
Kelsey said she was pretty excited when she read the banners and realized what was coming, and that “Ben” helped her out.
“It was really cute and funny because when you jump, you’re trained not to look down. I had to look down to read the signs because obviously it said Kelsey,” she said. “Luckily my horse was confident and forward and took me over the jumps, and we just kept going, so it was kind of fun.”
When she arrived at the finish line, Coleman was waiting there with a bouquet of flowers.
“I tried to get a few words out, saying I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, that there’s no one else that I rather be married to,” he said. “It was really short, sweet, and it was kind of all a blur. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but she loved it. She said what I said was perfect.”
Kelsey was thrilled with how the proposal turned out.
“It was kind of adrenaline on top of adrenaline,” she said. “The adrenaline from jumping and finishing your course, and then the adrenaline of getting proposed to—it was nuts.
“I thought it was perfect,” she said. “It was totally me. I would’ve been disappointed if it were any other way.”