Coco is my twelve year old. It was always her dream to live on our farm in England – to spend her free time outside and be surrounded by horses. Fulfilling that dream in the last year and a half has arguably been the highlight of her life so far. The paternal side of Coco’s family is known for their dedication to horses and Coco clearly inherited that gene. When she was just a year and a half old, we spent Christmas here in England and every morning she ran to the window pointing at the horses in the field and yelling “hotchy! hotchy!” (baby speak for horsey), not relenting until we took her outside to visit them. At age two, she started riding lessons and she has never since wavered in her love of sitting on a horse. She has taken endless lessons on difficult ponies inside dreary barns on Long Island, spent entire days riding around our farm exploring new trails on her own beloved pony Polo, and made damn sure she was here in England for a week of pony club camp in the middle of every summer. Not once has she said, “I don’t feel like riding today”. As a mom, it feels like such a gift to watch my child devote herself to something so completely, to witness dedicated passion from such a young girl. In the last few years, I have noticed an evolution in Coco’s character when she is on a horse – she shows a sense of self-assurance and maturity, a quiet inner confidence that only reveals itself when she is riding. Sometimes it makes me teary to watch because I feel so proud of her.
A few months ago, my close friend Amy Astley, who is also the editor of Teen Vogue, called to ask if she could send a photographer to take a picture of Coco on the farm for their “Snapshot” page in the magazine. Amy had seen our treehouse on Instagram and she thought it would be the perfect backdrop for Coco’s portrait. We agreed. But when Sean Thomas, the photographer, arrived on the day and started to ask Coco about herself, her passion for riding became obvious to him. After completing the shot in the treehouse, Sean asked if her could take one of Coco on her horse Polo. Coco was of course delighted to oblige. Predictably, I got an email from Amy days later saying that the picture of Coco on Polo far outshone the others. When I saw the photograph, I could see why. Sean had captured that thing about Coco that happens when she gets on a horse – that transformation from everyday twelve year old girl to empowered female heroine in control her massive beast. Never has she looked more beautiful.