Two weeks ago, Chico shared some advice from a dog in these trying times. Being older and infinitely wiser than most any dog, I thought I’d share some advice from this side of the fence.
Stay home. Stay safe.
So simple, and yet so difficult for humans to do. We domestic horses learned generations ago that being contained by humans might have some limitations, but it’s safe. If the four of us—Nevada, Rosa, Gidget and I—were to break out of our pasture, we’d probably go for a good run in the fields and then turn around and wander back (or run back if we spotted anything dangerous). Here at home, we don’t face dangers like predators and highway traffic and extreme weather without shelter. We’re safe.
Enjoy the small, everyday stuff.
Like a sunny afternoon following a long winter, or a walk in the fields with a family member, a good meal, or a nice roll in the mud (okay, maybe not that last one for you).
A healthy diet makes for a strong immune system and a sunnier disposition. But don’t be afraid to treat yourself now and then, even when your waistline suggests you shouldn’t. I’m in this category and frequently disregard what I should and shouldn’t eat. Have that one more carrot!
Reach out to those you love.
You don’t need to be physically close to people to show them you care. Without hands and arms and often on the other side of a fence, horses have to express our affection in other ways, like a nicker, from a distance, when we see a friend.
This too shall pass.
Having hunkered down through many a blizzard, thunderstorm, frigid wind, ice-covered pasture, driving rain, hailstorm, heat wave, mosquito horde, and fly season, I am well qualified to tell you that this shall pass.
The strength is in the herd.
If we stay united, we’ll persevere. In all of the situations I listed above, we horses stick together, staying warm, swishing flies off one another, running around and playing to stay warm. When I first came to the ranch as a youngster, my fellow auction purchase, Dorado, was not even a year old. It was April and we got one of those typical spring-in-the-Rockies blasts of wet snow. Poor little dude was soaked and shivering so Nevada and Alta sandwiched him between them to block out the swirling snow and wind as best they could. Look out for one another, help one another, protect the vulnerable, stick together. There truly is strength in numbers.
Be aware but not fearful.
Horses are prey animals and therefore always more fearful and vigilant than you humans. You’re accustomed to being in control, hanging out at the top of the food chain, having a cure for everything that ails. I’m a very cautious equine with a well-developed sense of self-preservation so I totally understand that you might be feeling afraid right now, for yourself, your family, your friends, especially when the enemy is sneaky and too small to see. And fear isn’t entirely a bad thing. For us prey animals, it helps to keep us safe.
That said, as a horse who has more than once been made a fool by overreacting to something completely innocuous, don’t let plastic bags turn into horse-eating monsters in your mind, and don’t focus so much on the scary rock that you miss the view from the trail.
Until next time, stay well, stay home, hang in there, and don’t panic … Storm out.