I’ve heard that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes. I’d like to propose that a third certainty is change. In our lives, we’ve seen a lot of changes and I’d bet that most of you have too. We’ve changed some big things like having children, where we live, and what jobs we’ve had. We’ve survived or enjoyed changes in the weather and changes of season. We change little things like where we shop, what we eat, what we wear, and what we drive. The net result is that very few things stay the same.
Change, even good change, is stressful. If it’s planned and the timing is good it’s much less so but, if the change is sudden and the timing of it is poor, stress levels can soar. Stressing livestock is one of the things that we try very hard to minimize. Weather stress, the stress of weaning, or any other stress brought on by sudden changes can lead to sickness in young livestock. We can use good management practices to lessen the stress caused by those changes but, the stress still exists and needs to be recognized and dealt with as it shows up in each individual.
Our horses feel the stress of change. Changing what they eat, where they live, or how they are worked with can add to their stress levels. We work to make changes with our horses as gradual and accommodating as possible. Preparing a horse mentally and physically for change makes the change easier. Feed changes made over several days or a week, short trailer rides in preparation for a longer trip, stalling a pasture horse for several hours a day a few days before they are to be confined for longer times, and working into a training routine a little at a time are all things we do to help a horse transition. As we change riding habits or change riding gear, we might make shorter rides with more frequent breaks to allow our horses to soak in the changes. Giving ourselves and our horses time to make a change reduces both of our stress levels and provides an opportunity for a better outcome.
This week, we saw some significant changes coming to our operation. The owner of the barn we are using for our training, lesson, and clinic business has decided to go back to being a boarding barn with guest clinicians and trainers coming in at her invitation. It’s a relatively big change for us because of the timing of it all. We get pretty busy this time of year so, Amy has had to scramble to rearrange horses, lessons, and clinics that had all been scheduled based on using that facility. Fortunately for us, we had seen signs that changes were coming and we had done some preparation to position ourselves for a transition. We will be bringing some horses to our place and will be using various facilities in the area to conduct lessons and clinics. We feel blessed to have the ability to travel to so many really nice facilities in this area and to work with so many great people.
Between changing schedules and getting projects related to the change completed, our stress levels rose just a bit this week. Knowing that we have a plan and the tools to accomplish that plan, reduces that stress some. Doesn’t that sound a little like what we try to do with our horse?