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Apparently we’ve become something of an attraction at the boarding facility where Bud and Pepper live.

Here’s the most recent example:

On Sunday we were out feeding our two old sweeties, like we do every day. We’d loaded up their feed in the back of our SUV. When we arrived, we pulled into our regular parking spot, opened up the back of the vehicle, and let Bud and Pepper out. They were waiting for us at the gate, like usual.

They bellied up to their feed pans and began munching away. We were reveling in the blue sky, warm air and all round gorgeous autumn afternoon.

We saw three people walking down the road toward us, but didn’t think anything about it. We figured they were coming to pull a horse out of the pasture.

 Instead, they stopped by the two old sweeties and asked if they could take some pictures.

“We heard about this, but couldn’t believe it,” the woman said.

I smiled, but gave somewhat of a puzzled look I guess, because she went on to explain. “I’ve seen horses do a lot of things, but never eat from the back of a car. My friends back home will love it.”

“Really?” I said as she continued to snap photos. “It’s just another day with the horses for us.”

 She smiled.

I smiled.

Then Bud and Pepper started showing off.

One at a time they walked up to the fence post where we keep the bucket of alfalfa cubes.  We call it the dessert bar. No halters or lead ropes, of course. They munched their cubes and then with just a little reminder, they walked to the pasture gate and when we opened it up, they walked in.

Click, click went the camera.

“You mean they just know to go in?”

“Yup. Most of the time they are really cooperative, Rick said.”

“Wow! I just haven’t seen horses do that.”

“We started feeding them out of the back of the SUV or pickup when they got old,” I explained. “It was a lot of work for them to bend down to eat.”

She smiled again.

“I know it sounds like we’re babying them,” I said. “We’re not exactly your average horse owners. It just seemed like a considerate thing to do.”

She smiled. “I think it’s great.”

 

After they left, we laughed about the whole interaction.

“The thing is,” Rick started, “you do think this is how everyone should treat their horses.”

 I smiled.

Glad we could offer a bit of entertainment for some out of town visitors on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

 

So tell me this: Do you do things with your animals that observers might find odd, interesting, or unusual?

I’m not the only one.

Am I?

When you’re two-and-a-half years old, most of the world is new to you. And you take it in with the focus of a Zen master.

You observe.

You study.

You think about it.

And then you do it with great enthusiasm. Whatever it is.

And then you do it again.

And again.

And sometimes again.

You allow nothing  to interrupt your focus.

 

Our grandson and his parents are visiting, so we’ve been treated to a crash course in focus.

Our world looks completely new when viewed through his eyes. I like what he helps us see.

 

On a recent visit to the pasture, the experience of focus was extended to the horses. I’m not sure Amigo and Atticus could be any more focused. They kept a very close eye on the little person doling out hay cubes. Who, by the way, looked very grown up, approaching the horses on his own.

His parents were just to the side, out of camera range. We didn’t just send a little guy out to fend for himself with the horses!

Just sayin’.

 

Watching this mini-lesson in focus, I realize that so much of what I do each day is the exact opposite. I multi-task, trying to get as much done as possible, not really being present for any of it. And there are days that if asked, I couldn’t tell you what I’d done.

That’s definitely not how I want to be living my life.

So once our company heads back home, I’m going to work on channeling my inner two year old.

I want that sense of wonder and exploration.

And yes, total and complete focus.

It’s never too soon to introduce kids and horses. For some, and probably most, it’s a match made in Heaven. Children seem to inherently recognize the majesty and magic of these huge, amazing animals.

We recently took our grandson to visit the horses on one of the hottest days of the summer.

He was a very busy boy and didn’t notice the heat at all.

He had entirely too much fun exploring the pasture, watching the horses, and tossing hay cubes to Bud, Red and Amigo.

The three bachelors quickly figured out that they’d hit the mother lode with this little person.

They’d nose up to the fence as close as they could get, and he’d reward their effort with an explosion of giggles and hay cubes.

Lots of hay cubes.

We packed as much action as we could into a fairly short period of time, before the adults collapsed from the heat.

  • Walked into the pasture to bring the horses in
  • Climbed on everything in sight
  • Tossed hay cubes to the horses
  • Stroked noses
  • Brushed horses
  • Walked in the tall grass
  • Visited Greta the goat
  • Ran in the barn
  • Looked at baby barn swallows

It is quite wonderful to experience the world through a child’s eyes.

Everything is new and amazing. Even the tiniest details bring joy.

I want more childlike wonder in my life, and a whole lot less adult stress and strain.

Now to make it happen….

This is our boy. Our big-hearted, mellow, full-of-personality-appaloosa.

There are many things I adore about Bud. In fact, a while back I made a list of ten. It could easily be a list of one hundred. He’s just that lovable.

This particular photo isn’t great – blurry and taken from too far away with my point and shoot camera, but I chose it because it shows Bud in his self-appointed role as the “food lookout.”

Every day, he’s at the front of the line, waiting for me to bring his grain. Most days when I drive up, the first horse I see is Bud. Even from a distance, he stands out because of his spots.

He positions himself at the gate, so hopeful, so confident, and so ready to eat. He seems completely comfortable waiting for one of our vehicles approach. He just knows we’re coming.

And he’s right.

I can’t bear the image of him waiting at the gate and me not showing up. We’ve trained our horses to this routine, and now the responsibility is mine to carry through.

I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating. Animals help us to be better humans.

My relationship with Bud and Pepper has given a structure to my day. An unbreakable routine, that honestly I haven’t had since my son was a baby. Other than going to work every day (when I was doing that,) I’ve found a way to weasel out of most of the routines I’ve tried to establish.

The funny thing is that I love having this routine. Knowing when I feed the horses helps me plan the rest of my day. “No I can’t schedule that appointment at noon. It’s when I feed the horses.”

Now, I’m trying to apply that same adherence to routine to some of the other parts of my life. Things like exercise, house cleaning, grocery shopping etc.

Wish me luck!

If you had to say, would you describe yourself as routinized or a free spirit?

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