Picasso hadn't been at the stables for long when I first met her. She was a huge (or at least seemed huge to a 12 year old me) tri-coloured mare who was about 5 years old. I rode her a couple of times in my weekly riding lessons, and wasn't overly struck by her really; I had another favourite pony that I begged to ride each week. I used to help out at the local stables all day every Saturday, and in return, I got a free riding lesson each week. My parents couldn't afford to pay for lessons, but this way I learnt lots and got to be one of the official 'helpers', a title much sought after amongst the ordinary 'lesson kids'. I felt very important. However, as a treat one summer, my mum offered for me to have a horse on loan for the week, meaning that I would be there every day and ride as much as I liked. I was desperate to have the favourite pony, but the owners of the stables needed him for lessons (I clearly wasn't the only one that loved him!) They offered me Picasso, and I decided that she would be better than nothing.
Within a week, she had become the most important thing in my life. What had seemed like a boring, big cob, started to whinny at me when she saw me, fell asleep when I was grooming her and took enormous care of me when hacking out in the forest on my own. She never shied or bucked, even though I was totally inexperienced and a pretty shocking rider, having only ridden for less than a year. Looking back, I'm amazed that the owners let me do so much with her, after all, she was quite a young horse and they hadn't had her long. After my week was up, I would see her every day. However, my parents moved the whole family away from the area at the end of that summer, and I was devastated to leave Picasso. In my spare time I would draw pictures of her (I still have lots of these) and write stories about us winning shows together. When we were in the car I would imagine I was galloping her along the verges and fields, jumping all the hedges. I came up with every scam I could to try to buy her. My parents were not in a position for me to have a horse, but I used to write daily schedules to show that I would have enough time to do it all myself.
Picasso began my love of coloured horses. I had no idea that a horse could bond so quickly with a person and that someone's life could be entirely dominated by thoughts of one animal. I still think about her. She developed a back problem and started to buck people off, so the riding school sold her to a dealer. This broke my heart, as she was so very special. I hope that she found someone to care for her - she could have made someone incredibly happy.