Consistency & The Art of Routine

In an instant age, people don't often get excited about the topic of consistency. Yet, most people will agree it's the key to success. It's no surprise that our habits are a huge indicator of our outcome, both with horses and in all aspects of our lives.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Horses thrive on consistency. Consistent schedules, consistent feeding and nutrition, and consistent training techniques that call for clear, gentle, patient communication. Although this message is not generally the one that people want to hear, slow and steady wins the race and there are no valuable short cuts.                                                                                                                         
When I interviewed dressage expert, Sandra Pearson Adams, she said, "Hurry slowly. It will take time. And just taking time isn’t enough. It’s got to be correct, structured time. Whether you’re training a horse or embarking on a project, anything worthwhile takes time, commitment, consistency, self-control, and staying power. The overall thing that I find missing with most people is consistency.  They try different techniques, they try different ideas, they try different gear, they’re always going on the internet to see what everybody else is doing. Whereas consistent, correct training always brings the results and it brings the trust as well."                                                                                          

Consistency provides logic and fairness for a horse, so they know what to expect and they have a good chance of getting it right. Consistency is not the same as repetition. Of course, if we want to get good at something we need to practice, but I often see too much repetition in the horse world, especially in training. I don't agree that horses need to be ridden every day or else they will go wild. Just like us, horses remember both good and bad experiences.

Therefore, if they enjoy being with us, have a positive experience and learn something new, that memory will stick. If we force them to go around in circles and do similar or strenuous exercises over and over again or if they feel pain or have anxiety, they will remember that, too. 

Horses are great teachers of consistency, helping us form better habits and stick with the program day in and day out. If you are reading this, you likely have a deep unconditional love for horses that inspires you to show up every day, rain or shine, in sickness or in health, in good times or bad times. Some of you spend your last few dollars to make sure your horses have food to eat, the same as you do for your children. This kind of consistent loving care is what makes the difference. Even though consistency is the art of routine, it's also the basis for heart-centered relationships across all species. 

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