Last week, we got a phone call first thing in the morning that my Grandad had just passed away.
While he was elderly and failing, it was unexpected. That very day was Grandad and Grandma’s 64th wedding anniversary, and we’d been planning to take horses to his care home to celebrate.
It was a very hard loss for my entire family, as he was such a huge influence in the lives of all of us, but first of all, I went and did my chores, because no matter what else is happening, the animals must be fed and cared for.
Two years ago, my Dad was in the hospital for five weeks before he died. It was an awful time, and I struggled with getting anything productive done. But every day, twice a day, I did my chores, because no matter what else is happening, the animals must be fed and cared for.
And those chores were never a burden. Instead, they were, and are, a great comfort to me. That routine of caring for and spending time with the animals I love, is what keeps me going when times are tough.
A familiar routine can be a great comfort to our horses as well.
When a new horse arrives here, no matter where they came from, it’s always an adjustment for them, and before I ask anything else of them, I let them get used to the routine here.
When they know that I come regularly with feed, that horses are turned out on pasture but come back every night, and all the other activities that are likely to go on around them, you can see them start to relax and settle in. The routine reassures them that while there’s been a huge change in their lives, there is still consistency that they can rely on.
Routine becomes even more useful with a fearful or worried horse. Whether it’s a routine of being haltered to come in for feed every day, or starting and ending each and every training session the same way, the familiarity gives them confidence. Incorporating deliberate routine and consistency into what you’re doing will help them begin to see you as safe and reliable, instead of scary and unknown.
When has routine helped bring you comfort? Have you noticed a time when reliance on a routine helped give your horse confidence?