Keeping horses is a most expensive hobby. Coming from a long history of horsemen, having horses is a part of my heritage. I tell my husband that I just like the way they smell. And I really do love the smell of horse manure mixed with freshly cut hay, the sweet feed, the smell of sweaty leather, etc. It all brings back good memories.
As farming and ranching have gradually phased into professions of the past, horse ownership has become a rarity. At this writing, I still have one horse, but she has been out to pasture in someone else’s field for over 10 years. She has aged without me, and I miss her. A post, this morning took me back to one special morning many years ago. In my hurry to feed the animals before work, I accidentally allowed the gate to swing open, giving our older, racing mare an opportunity to escape. As I saw her, sprinting out the gate, the realization and dismay that I would be late for work consumed my thoughts. Not only are race horses fast, but somewhat temperamental and thus very difficult to catch. On this particular Spring morning, the ground was heavy with dew and the grass was a vibrant green after the recent Spring rains. They air was cool and the sky was slightly overcast. There was a slight chill in the air but it felt wonderful. The earth was coming to life after a long winter.
After scolding myself for not doing a better job of fastening the gate, I quickly went about my chores, hoping that she wouldn’t get too far down the road. My plan was to hop in my car while shaking a bucket of feed out the window to lure her home. When I finally turned my attention to her, my irritation quickly turned to wonder as my eyes comprehended what I was seeing. This was a retired race horse. Running was in her genes. She had taken to the fence line bordering the two acres around my home and turned them into a race track. She was running full speed, round and round; practically dancing with joy. Her head was held high to feel the wind in her face.. Long black mane and tail were flying behind her and her coat glistened as she began to work up a sweat. She was practically dancing. It was one of the most beautiful sites I’d ever seen. Race horses love to run. It’s only when owners press them into extensive training that it becomes a chore. I believe this was the first time I had actually seen her look so happy. I sat down and just watched in awe as the morning sun began to rise behind her. After several more laps, she grew tired and ran directly back to her place in the barn.
My friend’s post, this morning, reminded me of that feeling of abandon. That time in your life when you actually wanted to run, for the pure joy of it. The time when all those things I now consider burdens were just things I enjoyed doing for fun.
In fact, I began to consider all those other daily chores that fill my day.
-I love the feeling after a strenuous workout. So why do I dread doing it?
-Music brings me such happiness. Why do I dread rehearsal time?
-I absolutely love helping people, the social interaction and the intellectual stimulation, that my job provides. So, why do I have trouble getting up in the mornings?
My conclusion is that it is time to go back to my roots; time to remember the joy of running barefoot in the grass, the joy of singing for pure fun instead of concentrating so much on technique, and the joy of helping people improve their ocular health. After all, if my heart is joyful, the effect is bound to raise my performance quality.