Horses and Weddings and Planning from Afar

by Aaron Wilson

It’s possible two of the most popular things that girls dream of are … [drum roll] … horses and weddings. Summer [Driscoll] Casady is no exception, having gotten a horse long before a husband. At age 11, the homeschooled fifth grader acquired Paloosa, 4, an Appaloosa mare which she trained, rode in parades, won blue ribbons on and galloped bareback across pastures. During and after college, Summer worked for Ron and Carol Baker at Huffman House B&B [now closed] outside Newport training their Haflingers. In 2014, she acquired Winnie, one of their horses.
After graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Animal Science, Summer spent one year working at Healing Strides in Boones Mill, completing her advanced therapeutic riding certification in August of 2015. Eight months later, for the first time since she was a child, she left Blacksburg for Wyoming, Paloosa and Winnie in tow. Beau, her chocolate lab, was in one of the vehicles along with her belongings in a caravan that included her parents, Duncan and Kelli Driscoll, sister Dakota and brother Dawson ~ the 21st century version of a little wagon train westward bound.
Within two weeks, Summer began her job as Equine Manager/Head Instructor at the Jackson Hole Therapeutic Riding Association and met a young man named Adam Casady. Adam had moved there a year earlier from the Midwest after an unsatisfying stint with a Chicago firm. Having grown up in Kansas, Adam, like Summer, longed for small town life with abundant outdoor recreation, which western Wyoming delivers in spades. “One of my new friends asked what was ‘my type’ of guy,” Summer recalls. “I had no idea. I met Adam a couple days later, and I thought: ‘Now HE is my type!'” The first thing Adam remembers is Summer’s apple pie. So that old saw that the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach may still ring true.
Fast forward seven months and lots of horseback riding, camping, fishing, church activities, bicycling and talking about everything under the sun, including their strong Christian faith, and Adam strategically plotted his proposal. Summer was riding Paloosa bareback when Adam dismounted Winnie on a trail just south of the Grand Tetons and went to bended knee. The engagement ring sports a twisted band like Paloosa’s braided rawhide reins. Their dogs frolicked nearby, and the horses seemed to stomp an approval. Her family, including her grandmother, Joan McGowan, from New York City, were back at the ranch to celebrate and begin planning an April 1st wedding, four and a half months away.
Summer always wanted to get married at the Huffman House. “After six years of working and riding there, I knew every contour of the land. That prompted multiple phone calls to Ron and Carol with me saying: ‘Ok, stand with your back to the creek. See the little collapsing shed on your right? Ok, walk past that. See the ditch on your left? The tent will fit the long way between that and the little tree on your right where the hill meets the flat area.'”
“Planning across the distance consisted of a million phone calls and hours on Pinterest and the internet. Mom graciously ran errands everywhere to get the best prices for things that perfectly matched my descriptions. It was certainly stressful at times, but it all came together beautifully. My friends Julia and Megan and I made all the signs for the aisle and signs stating where to go and when. The fresh flowers from Stonecrop Farm in Newport were absolutely gorgeous, and Black Tie Entertainment [Richmond, Va.] kept the dance floor packed.”
Summer dreamed, of course, of riding in her wedding dress. Since it wasn’t practical to haul Paloosa and Winnie to the event, Winnie’s mom and niece were willing to stand in. “We cantered around the yard on horseback while waiting to ride into the reception,” Summer relates. They had practiced riding in a couple days earlier, but the pressure was a bit too much for the ponies on the Big Day. “Adam’s horse trotted toward the crowd, all sure of herself, then at the last minute decided it was too scary and ran away with my horse trying to follow. Adam is a good rider though, and he was able to convince her it was okay to ride toward the people. Another favorite part of our wedding was doing country swing for our first dance. Everyone thought we had taken lessons and choreographed it, but really, it was all on the fly because we do it so often in Jackson.”
Summer and Adam are very happy that they did not have a long engagement. “Waiting 4 1/2 months was plenty long enough. We got tired of going to different houses every night, saying goodnight through text and living separate lives.” The only thing that they would have changed is Summer having the flu. The night before the big event, she ran a fever and lost her voice. She may have said her vows in a whisper, but they were shouting from her heart. “The most important aspect of our wedding,” Adam adds, “is that we wanted God to be glorified and the gospel of Jesus Christ presented. God’s hand has been on our relationship from the beginning, and He will guide our path across the beautiful, exciting, adventurous decades ahead of us.”
We wanted pieces of our Western lives, hence riding horses, the outdoor wedding, bridal party outfits classy but casual. The guys wore ties made by a friend who owns Western Range Clothing Co. All the bowties had elk antlers embroidered into them, and the bridesmaids had necklaces of the Grand Tetons, except my sister who loves the city and not the mountains. I gave her a New York skyline necklace. The flowers were different varieties in vibrant spring colors. Two of Ron’s bottle-fed lambs ran around at our cocktail hour!
~ Summer Casady


Text by Joanne M. Anderson  |  Photos by Silver Pebble Photography

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