Happiness Can’t Be Labeled


This is a repost from my Barnby Notes journal.  I’ve decided to transfer the entire series bit by bit to my new blog.  Enjoy!

January 10, 2013

In today’s modern society, it’s easy to affix a label to almost everything.  Categorization happens quickly, sometimes automatically, it’s an imbedded part of human nature.  In fact, I got my hands on a label machine one year and went crazy.  I am not sure what I was thinking whilst plastering those tiny white stickers throughout my entire house.  If I forgot to label a bathroom light switch, would I never know to turn it on?  Was it really important that I label that light switch and let everyone know, without a doubt, it was a light switch?  Did I truly believe that my labels were necessary in order for family, friends and guests to function happily and efficiently within my house?  In many instances, I could probably have saved myself a lot of tape and spelling misfortune.

So why try to label everything?  Will my labeling change the results?  Could a misplaced label become a hindrance?

I’ve been asking myself these questions and have tried in earnest not to be so quick to label without having all of the facts and even then I hesitate because there is always an element of my own perception, emotions or preconceived ideas.

I’ve removed most of those labels in my house, they were starting to get old and faded.  And to be honest, no one was really paying any attention to them.  I’ve also removed many of the labels I’ve placed in my own riding and those adhered to my horse.  She didn’t like them much anyway and most of them have changed over the years.  I’ve discovered there are some things that you just can’t label.  Happiness associated with meaning, derived deep from within, can’t be labeled.

Why?  Because it won’t stick.  Try it!

I am free to explore and move about the cabin, or rather the dressage ring.  Every morning my horse peers out of her stall window with anticipation of my arrival and to greet me before I even get inside.  When I enter the barn, her face is pressed up against her stall door.  It’s contagious energy to be around a horse who fully embraces life.  She will often start half steps a la happy as we head out towards one of the outdoor rings.  That always gets me in a fit of giggles.  She knows it too!  I used to think textbook flying changes would not be possible.  I smile at that now.  She absolutely loves to show me what she can do.  She is the soul of some former Grand Prix-ish dressage horse, in a different body, here to teach me how to ride and approach life with more patience, compassion and beauty.  I am merely just up there giving her my support and lending a hand where I can as her co-pilot (in training, of course).

This morning I rode to the most beautiful song, “In Your Shoes” by artist Katie Drake.  Songs often give me inspiration during my rides.  Some days I find it hard to separate from every day stresses and to find that place of relaxation and breath.  I am a huge fan of using music to quiet chatter and get back to where I want to be.

I am pleased this morning with how responsive and supple her shoulders are to the slightest of aids.  I am able to ask for more lift in her shoulders using a gentle reminding 1/2 halt with the outside rein.  This is followed by a forward question from my legs which if timed correctly sends energy up from her hocks and softly arcs through every vertebrae in her back.  The feeling and appearance is similar to someone performing a pull up in the gym.  I close my eyes and feel for balance, if both shoulders are equally raised her footfalls are light and airy.  I just love that feeling of soaring!  Today we worked on lifting of the shoulders on a circle, using shoulder in, renvers and baby half passes.  If her shoulders start to drop, I would turn the exercise into leg yields or go back on the circle, regain the shoulders and then continue.  When her shoulders are soft like room temperature butter, I just have to think about swooping across the arena with more opening strides for a half pass.  There is no resistance.  I keep tabs on my butter and make sure it doesn’t become refrigerator hard.  I contribute her shoulder advancements to our commitment with the ground work program.

According to George H. Morris, “The happiest horse is a beautiful ride”.  I am going to write that on a slip of paper, put it in my pocket and keep it with me.

I am not a rocket scientist and no, my horse does not have wings (last time I checked anyway), but we can still fly!  Oh boy, can we fly!

Just wearing my cape!

Just wearing my cape!


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