‘I couldn’t marry without my horse’

Horsing around: Melanie Gravell and Jason Barnes. Melanie on her horse, Rasputin, who she credits with helping her walk again following a motorbike accident.

Horsing around: Melanie Gravell and Jason Barnes. Melanie on her horse, Rasputin, who she credits with helping her walk again following a motorbike accident.

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A woman crippled in a motorbike accident has walked down the aisle to marry her sweetheart, thanks to her noble steed.

Melanie Gravell, 43, from Fulwood, bought stallion Rasputin when he was three years old, five years after her 1992 accident.

Melanie Gravell and Jason Barnes. Melanie on her horse, Rasputin, who she credits with helping her walk again following a motorbike accident

Melanie Gravell and Jason Barnes. Melanie on her horse, Rasputin, who she credits with helping her walk again following a motorbike accident

And five years later, she built up the courage to try and ride him.

“I initially bought him in a partnership and to have riders showjump him but bought them out to keep him for myself,” said business development consultant, Melanie.

“But watching him compete and learning to ride on him gave me something to aspire to and it made me realise that I had so much to look forward to.”

Melanie, who used to use a wheelchair and, later, walking sticks to get about, eventually managed to showjump on now 16-year-old Rasputin.

“He is just the kindest, most gentle horse and nothing at all like your typical stallion.

“If I lose my balance, he’ll make sure he steadies me and when little children visit him in his stables he’ll stand still and watches them to make sure he doesn’t step on them.”

Melanie, a grandmother to two-year-old Heath and one-year-old Logan, rode Rasputin side-saddle from Little Town Dairies to her reception at Ferrari’s Country House Hotel, Chipping, following her wedding to 44-year-old Jason Barnes at Christ Church, Fulwood on December 23.

Her daughter, 21-year-old Bianca Gravell-Howarth and Jason’s son, 17-year-old Calum Barnes, attended as bridesmaid and best man.