Monday, May 28, 2012

It's Just Routine, Ma'am

I have a tendency to jump right into the middle of things with little preparation. My knee-jerk preference is to charge ahead and if I get stuck, stop and read the directions – if I can find them. I would do this when I ride, too, if it wasn’t so glaringly plain this is not a knee-jerk preference for the horses. They simply don’t operate that way, and they will not be persuaded otherwise. Therefore, if I want Eddie (for example) to do well, I have to make sure I spend time, each and every ride, devoted to obsessing over getting organized. I must allow him the time to go through the steps needed to warm up. He has not varied from this requirement in the entire eighteen-plus-years I’ve known him.

Yes, he’s a little one-way about the whole thing.

Eddie, doing his job without me interfering
... yay, for me!
He doesn’t like it if I try to do his job, or expect him to do mine. We have a very distinct division of labor in our relationship and if I forget what it is, he will remind me. He doesn’t do this in a mean way. He simply gives me what I’m “really” asking for, and the usual result is me feeling like an idiot.  

Here’s a relatively benign example: it’s not up to me to hold his posture together, despite the fact that I know what it should be. That’s his job, and he can’t do it if I skip steps getting there and try to put him in place before it’s time. He will lean on my hands and remind me how much more he weighs than what I’m capable of lifting. Sure, I can remind him if he quits doing his job, and I can show him how I want him to conduct himself, but I can’t do it for him. Simply stated: He will let me. Times ten.

Horses are creatures of habit and routine. They need the sameness of a familiar warm-up in order to be assured they are doing the right job, in order not to be over-faced with demands from the rider. Routine is knowledge and security. Routine keeps the stress at bay.

Come to think of it, we humans need routine, too. As much as I hate to admit it. A big job becomes manageable if I break it down into a progression of steps I’m familiar with. Even well-known tasks can be overwhelming, like writing a book. If I remember to take it a logical and progressive piece at a time I can conquer what had previously appeared daunting.

I should remember this, since my horse insists.