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Most people have a favourite childhood memory that even with the passing of time, is held safe in your heart.

For me, that memory is horse riding. 

From the age of 5, my entire life revolved around horses. I would read about them; I would practice dressage in the garden; I collected magazines and bits of grooming kit; but the thing that made me happiest - that I lived for - was my weekly ride.

That one fleeting hour every week was when I felt utterly safe and accepted. It was time spent with an animal who gave back what they received, uncomplicated, proportionate and fair. It was a relationship without the pressures of humanity, and it was the time I felt … free.

Even in the coldest of weather, I would pray that we would be going for a hack because that meant the silence and beauty of Epping Forest. There would be no noise apart from the gentle thud of hooves on the compacted earth and I would see progress of the seasons through the blue blush carpet of spring, the green of summer and the rustling oranges of autumn. 

When we galloped over Chingford Plain and past Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, I would be lost in the roar of the wind and the drumming of the hooves, ducking my head to clods of earth flying from the hooves ahead.

When we moved away from Essex, I stopped riding. I'm not even sure why now, I was in mourning for the community I had left and I never really found another stables.

This is all ancient history of course, relegated to nostalgia, and revived every few years for a birthday treat. 

That is, until last weekend when Esme had her first taste of horse riding.

It could have gone either way, she could have turned and fled at the sight of the fluffy grey mare called Pippin.

Not my animal loving daughter. 

She listened to my instructions, picked up a body brush and started helping to groom, pausing every few strokes to clean off the brush on the curry comb I was holding.

She listened intently as I explained about picking out hooves, and what the parts of the bridle and saddle did and then, just as if she had been doing it all her life, she settled into the saddle and went on her first ride with me walking proudly by her side.

I have never set my sights on my children following in anything resembling my footsteps, but walking alongside Esme, it suddenly became the most important thing in the world to me. 

The utter ease with which she sat on Pippin, her natural empathy and enthusiasm; all I wanted from that moment forward was to jump on the nearest horse and ride along with her.

To share this passion with her, that would be a rare privilege indeed.

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