BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC — I can’t remember the last time I wrote a dateline. And no, there is no horse racing in the lovely state of North Carolina. As a matter of fact I believe they abstain from the lottery as well, at least that was the case when I lived down here. People who live close to the Virginia state border cross over to play their numbers. I find this amusing. It reminds me when a buddy of mine’s parents came to Saratoga. She told me to place a bet for her because she thought it was amoral so long as she was placing the bet. She too is Southern Baptist. Must be a trend.

So, I’m in North Carolina for no other reason than to get married. In fact, I GOT married four days ago at Ragapple Lassie Vineyards in Boonville to the Ruffian of my dreams, Ms., now Mrs., Carryover.

We met in Durham six years ago and frequented the vineyards in western North Carolina, Ragapple being the first. It was our introduction to good wine. Prior to that wine had always tasted like vinegar or venom. The chardonnay is buttery, the syrah is peppery, the viognier cuts like metal, the dessert wines don’t make you want to run for the nearest dentist.

It was 90 degrees outside and I was in a three-piece suit. I fist bumped my best man on our way down the hill to the gazebo. I had a brown paper towel to dab my forehead. Sweat rivulets crawled down my spine. My groomsmen were miserable.

Canon in D started and there strolled Ms. Carryover down the hill on the arm of her dad. Before we knew it, it was over, and we proceeded out to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” The Boss has all the answers.

We had only a few mishaps during the reception, which included one drunk friend insulting another’s fiancee. And one bridesmaid had too much wine and vomited in another bridesmaid’s car. (Both of these guests at one point or another were passed out in the winery’s tasting room either on the floor or on a hidden couch.)

After Ms. Carryover, her parents, and I broke down the decorations and ran all kinds of errands the day after we finally traipsed out to Black Mountain and Asheville.

We threw down $60 apiece to tour the Biltmore House in Asheville, gulped a bit, and drove in. The Biltmore is magnificent, worth it. We went over to the petting zoo where there bounced some chickens, lambs, goats, and horses. The two horses were named Bert and Chester. Bert stood nearby.

His coat was the color of caramel and his mane belonged on the cover of a smut romance novel. Bert is 21 years old. His hooves were the size of a human head. His handler was a petite woman, about the same age, weighing all of 120 pounds.

“What kind of horses are these?” I asked.

“Belgians, all the horses we have here are Belgians,” the girl said.

“I haven’t spent a ton of time with horses, but I have spent some time with thoroughbreds.”

“They are flighty. They are run to death. This one I worked with didn’t even know how to eat grass. We had to pull the grass up from the ground and say, ‘You can eat this!’”

I told her that I know several trainers, one personally, that know to give horses time to graze and time off in general to connect to their equine heritage. I hadn’t intended to make her back pedal, but she did. I hadn’t even realized I was wearing a Saratoga t-shirt.

We continued to pet Bert, his head the size of a television right up in our faces. His massatter cheek felt as warm as baked bread. His handler went underneath his belly to apply some cream to soars. “No, this isn’t the safest position. My mama got kicked and knocked out cold.”

“Well, in case you get knocked out who should I call?”

She laughed, “911! Or my supervisor.”

“OK, good, that’s who I had in mind.”

Having made it this far in this installment you may as well know that I did my best to insure your breakfast stayed in your gut and that there would be a horse.

At least there was a horse.

Brendan O’Meara blogs about horse racing here at HRI and at The Carryover. He also blogs about narrative nonfiction and his book project Six Weeks in Saratoga and The Last Championship at The Blog Itself where he tirelessly awaits a willing publisher. Follow him on Twitter @BrendanOMeara. His Web site is