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When I’m cold, I think about food. Maybe it’s my body’s way of ensuring that I won’t freeze/starve in the cold.

It must happen with horses too.

They need extra calories to stay warm.

And healthy.

Last week when I was feeding our two old sweeties, I watched three horses in a nearby paddock. These are barn horses that get turned out during the day for fresh air and more room to run and kick and play horse games.

But by late afternoon, they were so finished with all of that.

Horse games aren’t much fun when your stomach is growling.

Their focus had turned to something else.

What was the object of their rapt attention?

The hay truck.

And darned if it wasn’t still parked instead of delivering hay.

Now these horses know the schedule exactly.

It was getting late, and they hadn’t yet been led back to their stalls.

They were ready for dinner.

Big time.

So they tried the, “if you stare at it long enough, it will move,” approach.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work.

That truck didn’t budge.

Not even one inch.

More staring ensued.

To no avail.

I finished with Bud and Pepper, packed the car and drove toward the gate.

That’s when I heard it – a sharp whinny instead of words, but the message was crystal clear:

You’re late! Where have you been?

They turned their backs on her when she finally opened the gate – just to let her know they were not happy campers.

But one by one, she led them to their stalls and a big pile of life-giving hay.

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It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, maybe it was only dusk and a quick downpour drenched us when we went out to feed the other night.

It wasn’t really dark and stormy – more like dusky and drizzly, but where’s the drama in that?

Besides getting rained on, we found that the horses had been moved to a new pasture.

They’d been let into the hayfield to graze on the green stubble left after the hay was cut and baled.

Happy horses!

Really happy horses!

The grass in their old pasture was nibbled to nubs.

When we drove up, the first thing we noticed was our Herd of Oldsters, including Pepper, waiting at the other gate. Have I mentioned that our horses are very routinized?

They are.

I can just imagine the conversation:

“We need to wait here because this is where they come to feed us.”

“But what about all that green grass?”

“It will be there after we have our grain.”

“Okay, but they’d better get here soon. My stomach is growling.”

“They’ll be here. They always come.”

It’s that last phrase that induces huge guilt in me on those rare instances when we aren’t able to make a feeding.

 

We were a little later than usual getting out to the pasture that evening. I often wonder how the Oldsters decide when to come to the gate and how long to stay. They definitely have the routine down.

 

Soon we’ll shift to a noon feeding instead of night, and it will only take a couple of times before they “get it.” They’ve taught me so many lessons about the power of having and following a routine.

 

What are the routines that make your life run smoothly?

Do you have a set time to eat?

To work out?

To take care of household tasks?

Leave a comment below. Pepper is making a list.

I’m not a routine person.

I grew up in a household with routine and order. My sisters have easily followed in our mother’s footsteps.

Not me. I’m the black sheep of the family.

Many years ago when I had my horoscope read, I learned that I am all fire and air. Apparently I have no earth or water in my chart at all, which makes routine and organization difficult. That explanation certainly worked for me. I understood why following a routine felt like slipping into a pair of shoes that was one size too small.

I was the free spirit.

The woman of ideas and multiple interests.

I didn’t want any restrictions on my time; my creativity.

Until I became a parent.

Then I could see the value of regular bedtime, dinner at six, and clean clothes in the drawer. All in all, I did pretty well becoming a routinized parent, considering my earth/water deficits.

The need for a predictable routine again stared me in the face when our two old sweeties began to require daily medication. I’m not going to sugar coat it. I had trouble at first. Making time to go to the pasture every day just wasn’t in my life schedule. Slowly I came up with a plan and then I began to work it. I became as regular as a clock. The horses learned when to expect me and most times they were at the gate waiting. Which reinforced me to continue the routine.

Funny how that works.

These days I wouldn’t change a thing about the routine. My time at the pasture has become one of my favorite parts of the day. The routine no longer feels like too-tight shoes.

I have noticed however, that I have organized my life completely around feeding time. On the few occasions that I’ve gone to lunch with friends, or had a business meeting, I feel rushed to make it to the horses within our regular window.

And on those really rare times when I just don’t make it to the pasture at all, I feel guilty. So guilty. I think about my two old sweeties standing at the gate, waiting for me and my heart breaks. And the shoes start to pinch just a little.

Has my routine become a rut?

I would never stop the extra effort to feed Bud and Pepper. Ever. It isn’t that. I know that my trips to the pasture this winter ensured that Pepper is still here to celebrate her twenty-ninth birthday.

I suppose I’m just rambling today. Those of you who are really accomplished at routines, tell me this… How do you do it so that the routine doesn’t become a big, old, muddy rut?

I could use the advice.

P.S. Happy Birthday Jane!  Lookin’ good little sis…

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