The Exhilaration of Challenge and Novelty
by Catherine Madera
Several months ago I read an intriguing book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In it Rubin recounts the year-long study she conducted into her personal happiness and what she discovered along the way. Despite the fact that human beings love to inhabit a comfort zone, it is not a great source of well being according to Rubin. Rather, challenge and novelty, the unfamiliar and unexpected, turn out to be key elements to happiness.
In May I traveled to England and, naturally, wanted to ride a good English pony while there so I visited a local stable with friends. When they brought out my mount—an Irish Sport Horse at least a hand taller than what I’m used to riding—I was a bit challenged. Not just with the horse’s size, but with the fact I had to ride in a hunt saddle (novelty these days) and the guide announced we would be galloping some of the time (unexpected). I like a good gallop, don’t get me wrong, but as I’ve gotten older those gallops are restricted to my personal horses and enjoyed in a comfort zone. Say, an enclosed arena…My horse “Cracker” seemed okay, though, and that gallop through an open field in the Cotswolds is something I’ll never forget. In a word? Exhilarating.
This issue is our Performance Horse Issue and I encourage you to try something new this season: a new discipline, style of horse or event that pushes your comfort zone even a little. You might be surprised how great you feel. And don’t miss the story of the Havasu Horse Project on page 6. Shea Carpenter had her comfort zone pushed a lot on a trip to the Grand Canyon in 2014. As a result her life changed, and so did the lives of horses in need.
Ride on, into happiness!