Most days between the hours of 11:30 and 1:30 or so, I can predict with near 100% accuracy where my horses will be. They’ll be at the gate of whichever pasture they’re in at the moment, waiting for me to feed them.

It’s become a routine for all of us.

It’s as if Bud has a wristwatch attached to his leg (would that be a leg-watch?) and knows exactly what time it is. If I’m running late and unable to make the window I’ve trained them for, I start to feel guilty. I picture Bud at the gate, tapping his hoof and waiting, looking longingly down the road, checking every vehicle that drives past.

And that tugs at my heart.

He knows what time it is and won’t budge until lunch arrives. Food is what it’s about for Bud these days.

I guess that’s true for many of us.

Especially for an old guy. He no longer enjoys the status of alpha in the herd, though he held that position for a long time. That went away a few years ago. There are new, young bucks in the pasture, ready to prove their status. Bud just walks away now, content to watch for me, his grain, and his meds (though he doesn’t know I’m slipping that in.)

There are days I wonder why I’m doing this.

Why have I committed to a daily feeding and tying up every lunch hour? These are pasture horses after all, right?

I’ve trained my friends and family to know that I have to work around any noontime event, so that I can get out to feed. And I ask you, what kind of city girl uses that vocabulary?

Get a pedicure? Yes.

Go shopping? Of course.

Work? Yep.

But feed? I don’t think so.

Yet, every day, that’s exactly what I do. Rain, snow, wind, heat – none of it matters. I’m starting to sound like the U.S. Postal Service.  At least, the old Postal Service when they weren’t having such budget worries and talking about not delivering mail on Saturdays. That would never fly with my horses.

If you were to ask my family and friends, they’d probably tell you that routine was never my strong suit. I’ve always been a “live in the moment” kind of girl. I actually resented routine and believed it stifled my spontaneity.

That is until I became a mother.

Animals and babies are great teachers when it comes to establishing routines. Routine and predictability are good things for children. And if it’s good for kids, it’s usually good for parents.

So I learned about the power of having bedtime rituals, consistent mealtimes, going shopping so that we had the food we needed at the time we needed it etc. And Jeremy, that’s my son, thrived. In truth, so did I.

Then he grew up and I slipped back somewhat into my “live in the moment” ways.

Until I started caring for my animals.

Once again, I’ve become routinized.

And here’s the kicker: I like it.

It gives my day order and predictability. Some days, my time in the pasture with Bud and Pepper is the only thing that feels settled in my life. I feel my stress begin to melt away as soon as I pour the first scoop of grain into the pan. And when I drive down the dirt road and see those two sweet old things standing at the gate, waiting for me, I know that at least for that hour, all is right in my world.