From a world title to a wedding proposal, September 20 was a big day for Carlee Christian of Azle, Texas. First, she won a reserve world championship in Novice Amateur Working Hunter with Real Me In at the 2017 APHA World Championship Show. Then, during the Novice Amateur Hunter Hack awards ceremony, Carlee’s longtime boyfriend, Nate Lucas, surprised her with a wedding proposal in front of family and friends—and everyone else watching the World Show!
Proposing to Carlee at the World Show was Nate’s idea—he knew the setting would add some extra-special meaning to the momentous occasion. He floated the idea to Carlee’s trainers, Chad and Shane Christensen, who helped coordinate with APHA to make it a reality.
“They communicated back and forth and got me involved. I found out five days ago that it would be today. It was a hardcore scramble to get everyone in place, and I had to make sure she had no idea what was going on,” Nate said.
But Nate’s perfect-proposal planning didn’t end with the venue. He got his hands on a ring Carlee had inherited from her mother, who passed away from cancer when Carlee was just 13 years old. Knowing she wasn’t crazy about the ring’s original design, Nate worked with his jeweler to turn the heirloom piece into Carlee’s dream ring.
“She thought she lost the ring a month ago, but actually, I stole it and took it to the jeweler and had it made,” Nate said. “When I found out last Thursday night that the proposal would be today, I called my jeweler and he promised it would be ready Tuesday morning. We cut it close! We picked it up, got everything in line, and got my family and her family here.”
Before the proposal, butterflies started fluttering in Nate’s stomach—he fumbled with his sport coat’s buttons, waiting for the announcer to begin the script. Meanwhile, Carlee was waiting for the Novice Amateur Hunter Hack placings on the arena rail, oblivious to the event unfolding in the wings. The announcer welcomed a special guest to the arena and invited Carlee to ride forward; it was only when she laid eyes on Nate, kneeling in the center of the John Justin Arena with a ring on display, that the dots connected in her mind.
“I had no idea until he went out there,” she exclaimed. “I’m super excited and shocked.”
Because horses play such a big part of Carlee’s life, it seems only fitting that the proposal took place at one of her most meaningful events.
“He’s super supportive and always tells me to go after my dreams and shoot for the stars,” Carlee said about Nate.
And though Nate’s not a horseman himself, it’s clear he’s ready to support Carlee’s equestrian life. The impact it’s had on her is obvious, he says.
“I love her dedication and willpower,” Nate said about Carlee. “There’s nothing that will stop her. If you put an obstacle in front of her, if she doesn’t figure out a way around it, she’ll figure out a way over it.”
The couple, who has been dating for about four years, don’t yet have a wedding date in mind, but they’re excited about what the future holds. Congratulations!
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. Its mission is to inspire, nurture, promote and provide meaningful experiences to generations interested in preserving the versatile Paint Horse.