As a child growing up in a working class family in London in the 1950s, I used to dream about horses but would never have believed that one day I'd have a horse of my own. Horses were for rich people who lived in the country, not the likes of me whose parents lived in London in two rented rooms in a block with no bathroom and a shared toilet on the landing. A rare day out in the country was a long train journey away.
However, for a treat, my dad would sometimes take me to Whitehall to see the Horse Guards on duty. I was mesmorised by the way these horses stood for hours at a time with their very stern, unsmiling guards borne aloft. Fifty years on I still remember the sounds the horse made as it shifted its weight from one tilted hind hoof to the other. The chink of metal of sword and bit and the way that it sometimes chomped on all that steel in its mouth. Warily I would put out a hand to stroke the top of a leg - I doubt I could have reached the shoulder -and loved to feel the hair, like satin, both in touch and sheen.