Consistency is KEY!
Just the other day I was telling one of my friends that I had to write out all the instructions for the horses and explain everything to the person that was coming to take care of my little animal kingdom while I am out of town. I was doing the whole “and then you know this one gets this supplement, and this one gets this and this one comes in first and that one goes out last, blah, blah, blah” and she said “why don’t you just throw them out, they are horses, they’ll be fine.” You know what? She’s 100% right. I’m sure they would be fine, they are used to being out. I’ve mentioned my schedule before and my horses are always out at least 6-8 hours a day if not more. Yep, I’m sure in the big scheme of things they be fine, fine, fine but nope, that’s not how I roll. I know from experience that doesn’t fit with me. Here is why….consistency is key. ALWAYS! You don’t have to believe me, believe the pro’s. I’ve heard Charmayne James say it 1000 times. Lisa Lockhart has preached consistency in almost every interview with us, read here about how she keeps her horses environment as routine as possible at the NFR. It’s all about a consistent routine!
So, when I do anything with my horses I keep the routine consistent…including when I go out of town. They still get brought in the same times, eat the same foods/supplements and go out at the same time. NOTHING changes except the person on the end of the lead rope. PERIOD!
Now, was this always the case? Of course not! I am always talking about “trial and error” and I’ve certainly went the route of “oh they are horses, just throw them out.” Did it work for my horses? Nope! When I got home, did they look like they did when I left and were ready to hit the ground running? Uh, no. So I learned that my horses don’t thrive when they are off their routine. Lesson learned! Here’s a tip, most don’t! Even when I give my horses a break from hauling or “turn them out” they are still getting consistent care. The only part of their routine that changes is they are not competing. They still get the same nutrition, supplements and care.
It has been my experience that if you want your horse to perform to the best of their ability, you have to give them the best of yours. Lacking on their self care is not your best. I’m not saying that your horse has to have the best plush stall 24/7 or big winter blankets in the winter. Nope! However, your horse should be taken care of and that care should be consistent. Be consistent in what you offer them. They will know what to expect and don’t we all like that? I think so!
My horses meet me at the gate every morning, they KNOW it is time to be brought in and eat their breakfast. I don’t have to call them down from the back pasture because they are conditioned to know that this is the time they get fed every day. I have a pasture that backs up to my back yard. If I am a bit late in the mornings and Wheels sees me walk past the sliding glass door, he yells at me. HA! He wants me to know that HE KNOWS it’s time to eat! When I walk down to the barn and Wheels sees me pick up a halter he knows he is going out. If he sees me walk past his stall to the feed room, he knows he is staying in to eat, so he goes and stands by his feeder. HE KNOWS what to expect from me. Routines are key! Routines help us know our horses better. If we keep them on a consistent routine, then when something isn’t right with your horse, it stands out immediately. If you want your horse on his A game, then keep them on a routine.
I know we’ve talked about this several times but consistency is to key to conquering any goal big or small, and it is also the key to growing confident horses! Confident horses is what we want in this game!