Happiness is a bag of carrots.

My best aromatherapy is a bag of fresh carrots. As a horse “crazy” child, that bag of carrots meant joy to the horses I visited at Art & Aggie’s Upper Valley Stable in El Paso, Texas. My wise Mum would leave me there all day on Saturday and Sunday every week where she would lease a horse to be “mine” each month through the summer.

Because I was able to ride and learn from so many different horses, it was better (in retrospect) than if she had been able to buy me my own horse. Although, at the time, it just felt like second best with a huge gap between it and first best.

mink and chili

To this day, over 40 years later and hundreds of horses later, I still get the butterfly tummy feeling when buying carrots at the market. Their color and scent have the ability to trigger the best memories from my young childhood – a time of brutal sadness and confusion in almost all other ways. Horses kept me sane. Horses kept me alive.

So, when anyone asks me about the benefit of having kids connect with horses, I can tell them realistically that horses will be the best thing they give their kids. Really.

penny with tiny girl

Beyond the obvious learning of responsibility, resilience, compassion and patience; a horse will require honesty, self control and kindness from a person of any age. Not livestock; not a pet – a horse is a companion of the soul and a sacred vehicle of strength and swiftness capable of transporting one out of the mediocrity or the torture of a less than perfect home life… or a life with a disability… or an experience of horror… horses heal us.

So, I grab a bag of carrots and share them with my horses remembering, as if it were yesterday, the joy of doing so all my childhood. I smell the carrots and chew on some and delight in the process. When friends bring carrots for the Dharma horses, it pleases me to see joy all ’round and to know how healthy the treats are.

Pure and simple happiness.

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