What Makes You [Horse] Happy?

Work: PM1 heat therapy & middle-distance handwalk/PM2 groom.
Evaluation: warm weather = happy, pleasant horse = happy, pleasant me. Bodes well for summer.

Ramblings for the day: Everything from philosophers to Hallmark cards tell us that happiness is within our own heads. But where? How? Anuscha Rees, on a post in her blog into-mind.com, talks about the three sources of happiness: pleasure, meaning, and challenge. You can have each one, a combination of two, or in the best case, all three at once. See her post for a nifty Venn diagram of the intersections. Since horse folks spend an inordinate percentage of their lives in the company of their horses, ideas that apply to life in general ought to apply to barn life in specific, no?

Pleasure: hedonism. “Anything that feels good at that exact moment.” Since her expanded definition includes walking in sunshine, I’ll put my daily walks with the mare here. We stroll. We dawdle. She makes faces at the dog. (For more on our Old Lady walks & the irony thereof, My Two Horses.)

Challenge: satisfaction. Cleaning really stubborn tack. Although the smell of good leather quickly segues into the above category.

Meaning: What matters to you. Keeping the horses fed and healthy and happy.

Pleasure/Challenge: Hard but fun. “like playing sports.” This one’s easy: brilliant jump-offs, having your horse understand a dressage maneuver. (In the latter case, the horse understood it before I did, but let us not quibble.)

Challenge/Meaning: Effort for a higher purpose. Keeping the horses fed and healthy and happy in the rain, mud, cold, heat, dark of night.

Meaning/Pleasure: Fun for a higher purpose. Given the difference between Rodney’s potential and his career to date, I’m going to go out on limb and say that he has engendered frustration in folks other than myself. I’ll go even farther out on the limb and posit that people have made this disappointment know to him, consciously or unconsciously. Therefore, he is a very particular look when he’s done his exercises correctly and, more importantly, knows that he has done them correctly. For the rest of the day, he’s all proud of himself and seems to be saying, Hey, I’m not the dumbest kid in class!

Pleasure/Challenge/Meaning (Joy): The brass ring. I’m beginning to spot the problem. I can think of rides in the past that where fun, hard, and meaningful, such as when I helped a friend’s pony realize that she liked Cross-Country. I can imagine rides in the future, that would be PCM. As for things in the present, not so much.

So what can one do?

Add pleasure: “Bring along a friend. Have a laugh.” I love having the horses at home. After decades of having everything my way, I would make a terrible boarder. But I miss barn buddies. The dog just doesn’t get my jokes.

Add challenge: “Set yourself goals that are realistic but still a stretch.” I have no trouble coming up with extraordinarily complex To Do lists. It’s the getting through them where I lose traction.

Add meaning: “Consider the positive impact of this activity.” I’ll try. Really. I promise. I’ll say three good things to Rodney each day.

To paraphrase her questions:
What is your main source of [Horse] happiness?
What kind of [Horse] things do you do that tap into all three sources?

Categories: Barn Life, Groundwork, Horse Behavior, Horse Shows, Horses, Sports Psychology, Tack

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