Best-selling author Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt has horses in her DNA. When Katherine was a child, she and her siblings would go riding with their parents, Maria Shriver (a former competitive equestrian and a member of the Kennedy clan) and movie star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In this year’s People’s Beautiful Issue, Katherine, 31, whose latest book The Gift of Forgiveness is out now, reveals her love for her retired horse Cinco, who is now 26 and enjoying life on a farm in Santa Barbara, California. The new mom recently introduced her horse to her eight-month old daughter Lyla, who she shares with husband and actor Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy).

“Introducing Lyla to Cinco was so fun,” Katherine told People magazine. “I’ve had Cinco in my life since I was in middle school, so to be around him now with my daughter made me so happy. Then to be able to have her pet Cinco’s nose and get so excited about it made my heart swell!”

Katherine, Chris and Lyla. ( @katherineschwarzenegger Instagram)

The new mom and animal lover explained how important it was having a horse and riding while growing up, and how it impacted the person she is today. A fact that all of us horse people can relate to!

“Every single day after school, no matter what, I went to the barn, and I rode my horse, and I groomed him, and I took care of him — even if it was raining,” she explains. “So it was a big responsibility, and I think it really shaped who I am today.”

She also added that with showing horses every weekend she didn’t have a lot of free time to do anything else (like get bored or into trouble!). And by the sounds of it, that’s something she doesn’t regret one bit and no doubt hopes Lyla will follow in her riding boot steps.

“It’s really important to me to have the barn be a part of her life as it was such a big and important part of my life,” she tells People. “Growing up in Los Angeles, I think it’s important for people, especially kids, to have a place to get dirty, be free and be around animals in open spaces. It was a huge help for me growing up, and I know it will be for her too.”

Of course, as horsewomen in particular know, introducing your significant other to your horse is a big deal. And Katherine says it was the same for her when Cinco first met husband-to-be Chris. Fortunately, they liked each other.

“When your pets aren’t worried about somebody, that’s a good sign,” she said, echoing what animal lovers feel about our horses and dogs being excellent judges of character.

She also tells the magazine that when she first met Cinco it was love at first sight, and the moment she first sat on his back there was chemistry. “We’ve been in each other’s lives for such a long time, and he and I have grown up together,” she says. “It’s a really fun thing to be able to look back and see pictures of me with him when I was 13. To now be 31 years old and have him is a huge gift.”

In an Instagram post, Schwarzenegger Pratt reveals more of her feelings about Cinco with the caption:

Katherine, age 15, with Cinco. (@katherineschwarzenegger Instagram)

“A dream for a girl and her horse 😍 I’ve always felt so connected to animals, dogs and horses in particular. Cinco came into my life thanks to my wonderful parents, when I was in middle school and I spent countless hours with him over the past almost 20 years. I would go to the barn every day after school and ride. It brought me joy, freedom and unconditional love. I have wonderful memories riding, doing homework on the floor of Cinco’s stall, friendships made at the barn, horse shows and quiet walks in nature with him. When I went to college I put the pause button on riding and it tugged at my heart strings, but after a few years I came back to it and realized how big of a piece of me is connected to riding. As Cinco has gotten older, he has continued to be a special part of my life; introducing him to my husband when we first started dating and then to our little girl shortly after she was born. I am so grateful to have these pictures of my beautiful Cinco and I and will treasure them always.”

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