I loved horses.
Ever since my father bought a ranch, I wanted to learn how to ride a horse. My dad was an expert at horseback riding, because he grew up on a farm. Only when he had gotten married he had sold his property and bought a home with my mom, where they eventually raised me together.
Years later, however, my parents divorced when I was sixteen, which meant that shared custody became prominent in my life. My father, however, missed country life and bought a ranch after he sold his house when they had divorced.
I had often visited him at the ranch to help out with duties such as cleaning up the barn, tending to the cattle, and refilling up water troughs for the horses and the cattle to drink.
I loved the horses. I didn’t grow up with them like her father had, but I’d happily obliged to farm life. My dad said that I appeared to be a natural with animals, and so I wanted to ride my father’s favorite horse. The horse was named Picasso, because he had splotches of white and brown that appeared to have been splattered onto his coat in random patterns. What I loved most, though, about Picasso was his tail. Long and flowing and white. Oftentimes, my father would catch me styling the tail with girlish, intricate braids.
“Stop feminizing my horse,” He had joked, “Picasso is a stud, a manly man.”
I would smile, my blue eyes squinting as she did so. My would be blushing, because I would think the same things about my father.
When I turned 19, though, was when our seemingly normal relationship started to change. It was a warm afternoon on the ranch, and I was taking care of the barn when my father came to check up on me.
“When are you going to teach me how to ride, dad?” I asked, curious.
“You never expressed to me that you wanted to learn.” He said. I noticed how his hair had strands that were stained by the sun. Highlighted with lighter streaks that seemed to sparkle on his otherwise dark head of hair.
“I want to ride Picasso.”
“Picasso is a special horse, he only lets certain people ride him.” He replied.
“Oh, come on. Picasso knows me now, we are practically best friends. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me much.”
He smiled at me, who was looking up at him. He had told me that I reminded him of himself when he was younger, and I wondered if the twinkle in his eyes was because of that.
“I suppose we can practice now, if you like. Go ahead and halter him up and bring him out to the ring.” He told me.
I was excited. At once I found Picasso and brought him to the ring like he had said to do. He was waiting there for me, standing in the middle with his strong arms crossed over his chest.
He got on Picasso’s back and settled himself behind me. I could feel his chest against my back, his breath against the back of my neck. We seemed high up off the ground, it felt a little scary.
But his hands snaked around me to hold the reigns in front of me. I’d never been this close to any male before, so it felt a little awkward.
“You hold the reins like this,” He said, “And make sure you are in control of the horse at all times.”
I nodded and took the reins out of his hands, fumbling about clumsily. It felt like I was learning a new language for the first time. Unfamiliar and not quite sure where to start or even what to do.