My horse, “Lucky,” winning a Currier & Ives competition! South Woodstock, VT

My horse, “Lucky,” winning a Currier & Ives competition!
South Woodstock, VT

For as long as humans have existed on earth, we have greeted each other. Starting with a grunt, utterances of some kind have announced one’s arrival since the beginning of time. In Ghana the Twi tribe greet each other by asking, “How is your soul perceiving the world?” In Israel, “Shalom” means “Peace.” in Bhutan they ask, “Is your body well?” In Taiwan it’s “Have you eaten?” We in the U.S. used to say, “Good morning,” or “Good Evening,” but today we most often hear an abbreviated, “Hi.” Greetings reflect a culture. It is the same with sleigh bells.

I have the great privilege of having raised and trained two Morgan horses to ride and drive. In the winter I take them out with my sleigh, complete with bells around their necks. I used to think the sleigh bells were used to distract the horses from occasional sounds of runners scraping bare patches of ground. This past weekend, when I was competing at a sleigh rally, I learned the real answer. 

In the old days, before cars, people in northern climates transported themselves in the winter by horse and sleigh. They put bells on their horses to be heard from a distance when driving in the dark. Each person’s bells were distinct. If you stopped by the road, and listened, you could discern who was coming through the woods. Children ran outside when they heard bells approaching, hoping it would be the distinct sound of their father coming home.  Each horse and owner had their own sound.

Here’s the sound of my horses’ bells: Lucky & Meg

If you could create a greeting for this new year, what would it be?

Mine is: “how full is your heart?”

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16 Responses to Greetings

  1. Elaine Naddaff says:

    You have a wonderful spirit ! Your wealth, love of horses, nature, culture, competition and challenge show. I love your furs! Take care. brrr and hot chocolate with cookies…
    When my father had his very major and SUCCESSFUL heart surgery in Boston, I knit a blue sweater with two red hearts, one inside the other, and wore it to visit my Dad at the hospital, hoping he would see the two hearts, as meaningful. I found the knitting pattern, authored by a Ms. Livingston and yarn in my mother’s yarn basket. Somehow, I thought my mother would have approved of my symbolic and overly expressive loving knitting project. After my Dad’s surgery and hospital stay, I “stayed on” for a few weeks and nursed him at his lovely historic house, 1880. His heart surgeon said I did a wonderful job of caring for him and that care was critical to the success of his recovery. My heart was full… Elaine

    • Dear Elaine, I love how your love was literally knit into the sweater for your dad! I hope he appreciated it. I have no doubt you did a wonderful job of caring for him. I will be taking your example with me to the hospital. Thanks for filling my heart. Eileen

    • Louise Gilbert says:

      Dear Eileen, I would say………..and may your heart sparkle! Eileen, you have a most sparkling heart!! Hugs. Louise

  2. Ginny says:

    What fun to hear the bells, watch your joy as you are driving and feel like I was in the sleigh too! A beautiful winter scene in lovely Vermont.

    Thank you. Eileen!

  3. Pat says:

    My greeting “May your heart be filled with love to share with all whom you meet .”

  4. John Eldridge says:

    As a child growing up in Albany, New York it was the welcoming sounds of the bells on the Good Humor truck just after dinner that meant an extra treat…..

  5. Beth says:

    Thank you for the bells!

  6. Another nice sound, John. Connected with such “sweet” memories!
    For me, sleigh bells conjure up the taste of hot chocolate and the feel of a warm fire after the cold drive. A winter equivalent of what you are remembering!

  7. Phyll says:

    Sleigh bells remind me of romance. In every way. Driving a pony in a sleigh, the light, bright,
    tinkle of jingle-bells in sparkling snow, sunny skies reflecting happiness all the way. What a dream. Were you at the Green Mountain Horse Association? I attended a driving clinic there, once (as a spectator) with Robin Graves. It’s a beautiful place, and I’ve longed to take Dancer
    and participate in a clinic or go for a drive on the many winding roads all around. “Lucky” is a stunning steed, and he looks ready, willing and able to prance right out and dance to the whirl of waltzing snowflakes! Some enchanted weekend—thanks for sharing a bit o’ the magic! 🙂

  8. jsholmes says:

    Thank you!

  9. Darrel says:

    Maybe a proper greeting would be “Is today better than yesterday” I hope you had an old fashioned foot warmer or at least a hot brick to keep warm feet during your sleigh rally. Cold feet can detract from focusing on warming the heart.

  10. I hope your day today is better than yesterday!
    I didn’t have a foot warmer but the sun was on my side that day and I actually got hot!

  11. Dear Eileen, Beautiful note. Sound of your horses’ bells reminded me sound of my imaginary wind chimes’ crystal clear happy sounds spreading love n the air

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