Rick Pickard surprised longtime partner Helene Freeman with a ring after her run. • Photo by S. Sylvester Photography

Weekend Cutting Turns into a Proposal

For longtime couple Rick Pickard and Helene Freeman, June 14 at the World Cutting Horse Association (WCHA) Fort Worth weekend cutting in the Will Rogers Coliseum became a lifetime moment when Pickard knelt in the deep arena sand and asked Freeman to be his wife. And to everyone’s delight, she said yes.

“When I asked her to get off her horse, she knew,” Pickard remembered. “It was all I could do to keep tears out of my eyes.”

Pickard carefully and secretively started planning the proposal in March with the help of WCHA founder Lainie Whitmire and husband, Ray. A friend and florist prepared a bouquet of roses, and the day of the proposal, Pickard began telling show friends and trainers. The plan was to keep Freeman in the arena after her run and “talk to her about it [the run]” as Pickard made his way in. Freeman recounted the moments before the proposal, saying she had been unsatisfied with her run.

“I was hot and I knew I didn’t ride that well, so I was a little disappointed, and then I turned around and there is this magnificent bouquet of roses. I was just shocked, utterly shocked,” Freeman said.

Pickard was all smiles as he placed the ring on Freeman’s hand. • Photo by S. Sylvester Photography

Freeman’s equine cutting partner, Geeeyejoe, known as “Soldier,” even seemed to sense a special moment when Pickard entered with the roses. Soldier watched attentively as Pickard got down on one knee. With Freeman and Pickard’s bright smiles and Soldier’s ears perfectly pricked, the event almost looked staged.

According to Freeman, she had been hoping for this proposal for a “long time.” Pickard explained the lengthy courtship, saying after a previous marriage ended, he wasn’t too keen on marrying again. He and Freeman dated for 10 years after meeting on horseback at a trail ride before either of them started cutting.

“She was certainly ready because she had hinted at it a few times,” Pickard said. “Tons and tons of people said congratulations, but a close second was, ‘It’s about time!’”

“I’m very blessed to have such a special man in my life. I just am. That took a lot of preparation and thought on his part,” Freeman said as she reflected on the day. “And for him to want to make me feel so special in front of so many of our friends, it was pretty remarkable.”

The couple is hoping for a destination wedding, and they aren’t taking their time. The plan is to marry in September 2019. Freeman thanked the Whitmires for their help in orchestrating the proposal in the historic Will Rogers Coliseum and helping the unique engagement go off without a hitch.