*Today I bring you an essay that I previously wrote and published on another site last Spring. The link to the essay no longer functions so I rewrote it here (with a few tweaks) for inclusion on this blog.
I have been a backyard horse-keeper for about eighteen years now. I appreciate many aspects of keeping my horses at home including how their very presence encourages me to maintain a routine.
I am naturally drawn to structure and organization so I don’t need much prompting to keep a schedule. But during times in life when the chips are down, the regular rhythms of horse care help mitigate the chaos.
Knowing that my horses still need me, no matter what else is going on in the world, provides much needed normalcy.
While there are some varied opinions on the topic, most horse people seem to think that maintaining a routine is beneficial to horse well-being.
In reading about horses living in the wild, the description of their lives sound quite organized to me. Preferring to live in communal herds, they seem to naturally appreciate structure.
While some contend that horse herds in the wild are very hierarchical, others think that an observed pecking order among equines is only seen in domestic horses. They believe that being housed in close quarters creates competition for resources that gives rise to those hierarchies.
Pecking order or no pecking order, horses naturally seem drawn to predictability in many forms. Any time I have welcomed a new horse into my backyard, it is my observation that they relax once they catch on that I am coming back to feed and otherwise care for them on a set time-schedule.
Nature in general seems to share this innate sense of organization that I find so appealing. In spending time recently in the pasture and barn, I see signs of Spring everywhere. Each season has its own familiar structure.
My horse are shedding their Winter coats. The grass is staring to grow and go green, prompting me to wait for the ground to dry out so I can start the first mow of the season. The avian activity is increasing. I see birds flying with pieces of horse hay in their mouths. Fathers and mothers building nests in anticipation of egg laying.
The rhythms of the Spring season and of nature itself give me quiet comfort when other evens in my life seem out of control. They connect me to something larger than myself.
In my own Christian faith tradition, nature is God’s handiwork. The wonder of nature reminds me to look to Him for inspiration and guidance, both in times of plenty and in times of want. It is a beautiful thing to appreciate His creation. This appreciation is in many ways an act of worship that calms and centers me.
As I prepare to head out today to serve another horse meal, I will be thankful to have the opportunity. For the thousandth time, I will stuff the hay bags full of forage, check the water trough and gather the tools to start cleaning the run-in-shed.
Horse care is physical work, not always completely welcome to my ever-aging body, but the process never gets old. Performing this routine means that I have horses in my backyard for at least one more day. No matter what else is going on in my world, for this I am ever so grateful.