Because they told me several hours into a house party, I can’t remember exactly how I found out two of my best friends from Peace Corps were engaged to each other—but in my mind, now, it sounds like, “I have news. We’re getting married. And the horse at our wedding is going to be the same horse as Taylor Swift’s.”
It came true, as they say, a couple of weekends ago: a perfect wedding, on a halcyon cloudless day, at a farm near Annapolis. First there was a Western ceremony, the bride in tulle and thick braids; then, a Hindu ceremony, the groom in full regalia, in the middle of a technicolor dance parade, riding on top of a SUPER TIGHT HORSE DRESSED UP LIKE A SWAGGY LIL POPE.
I was not a “horse girl” growing up, nor am I easily starstruck. But this horse, an Andalusian stallion named Chico, was incredibly fancy and spiked my adrenal system more than any other celebrity encounter I have ever experienced. So, I called up his handler Diana Beuchert.
Beucher owns and operates Spring Fever Farm, where she boards and trains horses, competes in dressage, consults on animal behavior, and runs a special-occasion service for weddings and other events. “Horse women are born, not trained,” Beuchert said, and she was much the former. Growing up in Maryland, she started riding at age six. Within a few years, her parents gave her a horse for Christmas, and she turned around and made good on the investment: “entrepreneurial from a very young age,” Beuchert started teaching riding lessons by 12.
Spring Fever Farm is one of the largest breeding farms in the state for Andalusians, so I asked Beuchert about the breed. They were bred in Spain for bullfighting agility (“I’m strongly opposed; it’s so cruel to the animals”) and outside the arena, they’re “smart and athletic, big-hearted and willing to please.” Andalusians are born black, mostly, Beuchert told me—and then they turn white.
“What?” I said.
“They’ll be born black,” she repeated, “and then they fade to gray and then white. So if you see a four or five-year-old Andalusian, they’ll be mottled, and then they’ll turn totally white, like Chico.”
I mean—what are horses?
“The best moments in my everyday life,” Beuchert told me, “are moments of incredible camaraderie. Just this morning, with one of my stallions, I was standing in the middle of a circle and he was going around on a lunge line. I was talking to him and telling him he was a good boy—and I praised him, and his ears came forward, and he licked his lips, which is a sign of submission and happiness. And he was just perfect for a couple of seconds. A perfect, beautiful trot. I said to myself, this is what I live for. It’s artistry, but instead of a painting, it’s a living, breathing thing.”
This intense rapport is necessary when it comes to things like an all-day shoot for a Taylor Swift video, or the events Beuchert does with her horses on a more regular basis, like weddings where the horse will be attached to a Golden Carriage with a full-on DJ booth inside. “It’s a difficult job—lots of stress, lots of things that could go wrong,” said Beuchert. “But Chico is a quintessential professional.”
“Do they get stressed out?” I asked.
“Recently I’ve had weddings where a photographer has brought a drone, and the drone will go right in the air in front of the horse, which... if you put yourself in the horse’s head...”
We paused to consider this.
“But even the drones haven’t scared Chico or my carriage horse Brogan,” she said. “They try to please me and they know I’ll never let anything bad happen to them.”
Out of the blue, I asked Beuchert if I could interview Chico. As you can see in the photo to the left, I had tried to already, at the wedding, but he was busy prepping for his big moment.
“You probably know what Chico would say, right?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” Beuchert said.
Here we go!
Hi Chico, how old are you?
23 years young.
What are your favorite foods?
Carrots and apples and anything that I can tell is in my mommy’s pocket.
What do you not like?
I don’t like firecrackers or sparklers, those are my least favorite thing. There’s a point in some of the South Asian weddings where they do a ceremony with candles on a tray, and I’m not very afraid of small flames, but I do not like big flames.
What’s an average day like on the farm?
My mom comes in and feeds me at 9 in the morning. Then I go outside with all my friends, eat grass in the sunshine, swish my tail at flies. I play with my friends and we run around playing games—sometimes I pretend like I’m going to bite them, sometimes they pretend like they’re going to bite me. Then, before the sun goes down, my mommy calls us, and we go into the barn where our stalls are clean, and we have our dinner and fresh water, and she says she loves us and then we go to sleep.
That’s a really nice day. What’s your favorite season?
Probably spring and fall. In the winter I have to wear a blanket and I get fuzzy, like a teddy bear. In the summer, at weddings, my costume makes me sweat. My mom has to wave it under my belly to cool me off.
Has anyone ever told you that you looked like the pope?
Not until now.
Was the Taylor Swift video your first acting experience?
It was my first in front of cameras, and having all those things pointed at me was kind of scary. But I’ve danced for years in front of crowds, and I got to eat carrots all day.
How did you get your big break?
I’ve been going places with my mom for many years with all the other Andalusians. We’ve done musical performances, and people videotape us—so we’re a little bit famous in the Andalusian world. The agent just called my mommy and said, “I love your work, and we need two white horses in four days.” And my mommy said yes.
Were you starstruck when you met Taylor?
Yes. She’s very pretty. When my mom was helping the man get up on Paco—my friend—Miss Taylor actually put her foot in the stirrup and got right on my back. She wasn’t supposed to do it without my mom, but she knew what she was doing. I fell in love with her. She told me I was beautiful the whole time. I loved her riding on top of me and talking to me.
Did she really stand on top of you?
That was a little bit of magic. She stood on scaffolding, sang and did her arm motions—and then they took her down, moved the scaffolding, and filmed me all by myself. There was magic in the bedroom scene too: it looks like there’s two horses, but it’s just me, filmed on both sides of the room.
So you got to go inside that really fancy house, huh.
Yes. It was hard. It was 10:30 at night, which is past my bedtime, and we were all tired. And Miss Taylor got on the bed with her kitty cat, who’s named Olivia Benson, and Mom took off my halter and told me to stay still—and I stood there for an hour, being a good boy. As soon as the director said cut, I turned around and everyone laughed, because they knew how badly I wanted to go home.
When I saw you at the wedding, I thought you were very beautiful.
You were beautiful too!
I’m too old for you. Do you get stage fright?
No, I used to, a little bit, but now I know it’s just a big celebration. I feel like the most important part of it. I know everyone’s looking at the groom—they’re happy because he looks so wonderful—but secretly I think they’re the most happy to see me.
To find out more about Chico, Spring Fever Farms, and Golden Carriage-type event opportunities, please visit Diana Beuchert’s website.
Images via screenshot/courtesy of Diana.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.