Sofia

She was a beautiful chestnut mare. I am aware I met her when I was only 3 years old so my perspective is bound to have been skewed BUT I did learn to ride before I could walk and I was around horses from infancy so I think I am accurate in my thoughts on Sofia. She was twice the size of the other Arabian and Argentinian polo stallions in my granddad’s farm stables. Maybe she wasn’t twice as tall but she definitely had the widest back of all. I remember meeting her for the first time and I was frightened enough to take a huge step back as she turned her eye on me. I think it probably took a 2nd or 3rd meeting for me to come close enough to touch her and then maybe another meeting to ride her that first time. The memory is hazy (I was really quite young) but I remember I rode bare back, possibly because she was not a ‘riding’ horse and there were no saddles to fit her broad back. She was there to breed. I was placed onto her back and I felt a little dizzy from the height. My little legs are splayed wide and still my feet could barely grip her flanks. It was like sitting on a firm sofa that was moving and felt warm underneath me with the lovely smell of horse coming from it. I remember some stable hand leading me around the stables on her back and I was on there for maybe 10-15 minutes. I remember leaning forward and placing both hands on her neck, stroking her and feeling her neck ripple in response.

I fell in love with Sofia after that day and hers was always the first stall I visited when I went to the stable. I brought her sugar lumps and fed them to her every chance I got. I rode on her back whenever someone was free to lead the horse. I stood by her stall door and talked to her on many occasion. I am not entirely sure what happened to Sofia over the years. I think whatever happened, happened in the 2 years I boycotted the farm because of my granddad’s unreasonable behaviour (lol, yes I was like that as a child!). She is long gone now but the last time I went to the depleted stable, her name was still faintly there, written over her stall in charcoal. These days, I am a little obsessed with riding large animals like camels and elephants. I think it is because I love to replicate the sensation of being on Sofia. And of course every time I see the image of a child on a large horse, I think of her. Gorgeous animal she was!

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