Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt Says Introducing Baby Lyla to Her Horse 'Made My Heart Swell'

Life is coming full circle for Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt.

As a child, the Gift of Forgiveness author's parents Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, ignited her love of horses when they introduced her to riding. Now she's starting to do just the same with her 8-month-old baby girl Lyla, whom she shares with husband Chris Pratt and has already introduced to her beloved 26-year-old horse Cinco.

"Introducing Lyla to Cinco was so fun," Schwarzenegger Pratt says in PEOPLE's 2021 Beautiful Issue, on newsstands Friday. "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!"

Before Lyla met Cinco, Schwarzenegger Pratt, 31, introduced the horse to another important person in her life: her husband.

"They got along very well," she says. "The first time that Chris met him was definitely a wonderful, heartwarming moment for me — similar to when he first met [my dog] Maverick. When you can get all of all your people — or your animals — in one room, it really is a nice moment. When your pets aren't worried about somebody, that's a good sign."

Though Lyla is still young, Schwarzenegger Pratt can "tell her love for animals has already started."

"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 says. "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."

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLSmjw7A8N_https://www.instagram.com/p/CLSmjw7A8N_Though Lyla is still young, Schwarzenegger Pratt can "tell her love for animals has already started."

"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 says. "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."

Cinco has been in Schwarzenegger Pratt's life ever since Shriver, 65, and Schwarzenegger, 73, surprised her with him when she was 13 years old.

"I had a show pony that I started with that was the first love of my life," she says. "I was obsessed with her, and her name was Brandy. But then I got too tall, and I had to get a taller horse. Cinco was the perfect one."

Schwarzenegger Pratt says it was love at first sight when she met Cinco for the first time. "I immediately just got right on him, and we fit really well together," she says.

When she was a kid, Schwarzenegger Pratt says her parents made a point of getting her and her siblings — Christina, 29, Patrick, 27, and Christopher, 23 — "comfortable around horses and really all animals."

"My mom grew up riding when she was younger and had a show pony that she used to compete with," she says. "My dad also grew up on a farm. They used to take us horseback riding, and they had two big horses, so I grew up learning to ride on bigger horses very quickly."

"It was just always a huge part of my life," she continues. "It was a great bonding experience because it was something that we could all do together. My dad would ride his horse and my mom would ride her horse, and so would Christina and I. Then eventually the boys would just hop on different horses, and it was a really great family activity."

Schwarzenegger Pratt says that the "responsibility" that came with having Cinco was "the most incredible gift" that her parents could have given her.

"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 says. "So it was a big responsibility, and I think it really shaped who I am today."

"You don't have a ton of free time when you're showing horses," she adds. "Every single weekend I was at a horse show, so I couldn't really go out on Friday or Saturday nights because I was up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning to drive to a horse show with either my mom or my horse trainers. So it definitely takes up a lot of your time, but it was such a huge gift and also a world out of L.A. that I really enjoyed."

Having Cinco also taught her a lesson in resilience.

"He used to throw me off all the time," she says. "But my mom was really adamant that whenever I fell off my horse, no matter how upset I was about it or how humiliated [I was to have fallen] in front of a bunch of people in a show ring, I had to get right back on and do the fence again. I think that really was an amazing gift because it never allowed me to be fearful of horses or scared to get back on the horse."

Now retired, Cinco lives at a barn near Santa Barbara.

"Every single time I tell people my horse is retired, people are like, 'Is that even a thing to retire your horse?'" Schwarzenegger Pratt says. "And it is, because at a certain point, especially for a large horse, they get older and they don't want to be ridden anymore and it becomes more of a dangerous thing if you continue to ride them."

"So I was lucky enough to be able to find this amazing barn, and he basically just walks around in a field all day long with other horses that are also retired and eats and gets to be fat and happy," she continues. "He really lives the life now!"

Though Cinco lives about a two-hour drive away from her home in L.A., Schwarzenegger Pratt says she drives up to visit him at the barn "a lot."

"I love L.A. — I've grown up there, and I will live there forever — but to be able to have a place where you can escape and be in nature and be around animals and get dirty and do barn work is really important in anyone's life and has been tremendously important in mine," she says.

As to what she loves most about Cinco, Schwarzenegger Pratt — whose paperback version of her New York Times best-selling book The Gift of Forgiveness was released on Tuesday — says it's their "history."

"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."

For all the details on Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt and Cinco, and more of Beauty's Best Friends, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.


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