Learning from Horses

Learning from Horses

Training horses can teach us a lot about how we grow.
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I am a third generation horse fanatic. My grandpa needed horses for the farm, and when they were no longer needed to work the land, he kept them for breeding and showing. Even though my mom died when I was just 19, she passed on to me her love of horses. I don't remember life without horses. One of my aunts said that when I was a baby, she would take me for a ride to rock me to sleep.

What amazes me is how often I can see parallels in my relationship with my horse and my relationship with God. Let me to give you an example.

Recently a coworker was interested in buying a horse for his children. He decided to do it the smart way and seek out some advice first. I gave him as much information as I could, including my opinion of local horse trainers. He asked me specifically about a nearby trainer. I told him that in my opinion this trainer had decent horses, but all they did was go forward, backward, and turn right or left. My coworker mulled this over for a minute and then with a puzzled voice asked, "What else should they do?"

Good question. What else is there for a horse to do? At first glance that seems like the total package. But there is so much more! A horse should let your leg mold to their body when you are riding them. They should collect their hindquarters underneath you and travel sideways when asked. The rider should be able to increase and decrease the speed of the horse's gait. The horse should bend her head around to touch the rider's knee in a relaxed manner when asked—the list goes on and on. In fact, I've never owned a horse that I've run out of things to teach.

When you get me talking about horses, I can go on forever. So after subjecting my unfortunate coworker to a lengthy list of other things a horse should do, he grinned at me and said, "Oh, you want tricks!" It amazed me the difference between a "trick" in his opinion and a "trick" in my opinion. I've always wished I could do tricks with my horses. Things like getting them to bow or me doing a headstand on their backs while they gallop through a burning hoop. I had never thought of proper collection and side passing as a trick! But the truth is that once you have mastered a concept, it seems so simple that there is nothing tricky about it.

Horses, just like people, can continue to learn their whole lives. But so many riders are content with the basics. All they want to do is go forward, backward, and turn right or left. They don't care if the horse does it the "proper" way, or even if they have to ask the horse nine times before he does it—just so long as sooner or later they can go where they want to go. I have always though that if only these riders knew what they were missing, they would never be satisfied with the basics again. Being able to go forward, backward, right and left is just a springboard to launch from.

It's comparable to a baby who has just learned to crawl. That's huge! What a milestone! Now that baby has the ability to move himself around, but that is just the beginning. If in two years, that child has learned nothing more than simply how to crawl, it will be devastating to his or her parents. Being able to crawl is just a springboard, just the beginning; there is so much more.

Mastering the basics of horseback riding is similar to mastering the basics of Christianity. It may seem complicated at first; but once you have it figured out, it's not tricky at all. That's when you know it's time to move on to something more challenging.

When you are a Christian, believing is just the beginning. Second Peter 1:5 says to "add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."

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