Monday, April 19, 2010

A girl and her horse

I guess you could say that I have had writer’s block for a while now, but then I guess you have to be a writer to get writer’s block and I don’t consider myself a writer of any sort! I just have felt like I haven’t had anything worth saying. All I have been doing for the past month is yard work, house work, halter breaking two mares, burning out a whole mess of brush piles, and now I am halter breaking a little yearling colt. Well maybe I have had stuff to write about, but nothing all that exciting to most people.
However, the mood struck me today while I was washing my face. (The “mood” doesn’t really care what you are doing when it sparks something in your head as I have found out!) I have been trying to come up with something to write about, but the only thing that I have really had any real thoughts on is my Beth Moore book that I have been reading and I don’t want to bore anyone while I work through my own insecurities. But today I was reminded of God’s never-ending love for me and for you.
A few years ago I took a trip to Whitesboro, TX with Girlstown and we visited a cutting horse farm for the weekend. To this day I remember ever single detail of that trip! It was truly incredible! We watched a cutting horse event then went back to the ranch and got to ride cutting horses that cost more money then I will ever see in my life. While I was there I met a man who told me a story that would forever change the way I view how I work with young horses. His name was Jim. He was the trainer and the coach for the riders at the ranch. He was a retired cop and it showed! I knew that if I were ever to ride under his teaching at some point I would end up in tears! He expected the best every time and was very hard on his riders. But in the ring, their riding stood out. They were amazing! The first night we were all there I got to spend some time talking to Jim about his life working with horse. Ya know questions like how long have you been riding, what is your favorite color horse, all the important things a horse women like myself needs to know! He told me that he had been riding as long as he could walk and always knew that he would end up working cutting horses. He also told me that he goes around to “Cowboy Churches” (very big in Texas) and does special programs for them. Jim then busted out his karaoke machine (and I am not kidding) and made me sing with him! Picture in your mind the worst American Idol audition that is what it was like with me singing to “Amazing Grace” the Elvis version! Poor poor kids that had to sit through that. But Ol’ Jim, now he could sing! He would take his little karaoke machine and travel to these Cowboy Churches, do his Elvis impersonation, then get down to brass tacks with the crowd.
Here is what Jim does. In a round pen he has a young or untouched horse. He stands in the middle and starts to work with the young colt or filly. He does this by putting pressure on the animal by just moving closer to him or her until the animal moves away. This is part of a long process of training and for some horses it can take hours before they submit and relax enough for you to even think of touching them. Some horses hate the fact that someone is trying to tell them what to do. I have seen some horses and worked some horses that will flip themselves over because they don’t want to do what I am asking. But for Jim he spends a few hours working the young horse until he can walk up to it, halter and lead it around and reward the animal for doing so well. After telling me how he sets this up he turns to me and stops cooking, and I will never forget what he said to me next “Isn’t that just like us and God?” WOW and yes! “Only thing is that horse figures it out way faster then most people ever will.” We spend so much time and energy running around and around trying to do it all ourselves, all the while God is just standing in the middle with His arms open just waiting for us to turn into him! Can you see it?? God is our safe place. He is not asking us to do anything that won’t draw us closer to Him. So why in heavens name do we fight him so much? I myself have been known to flip over backwards, much like the young horse, when confronted with something God is gently asking me to do.
When I work with these young horses, I am constantly reminded of Jim’s example he gave to me. Never would I ask the colt or filly to do something that I know they can’t do, neither does my God. Never would I put my horse in danger, neither would my God. Never would I hurt, neglect, or abuse the beautiful creature and never would my Lord and Savior do any of that to me.
Needless to say I am humbled every time I start a young horse. I am also reminded of how often I start over with my God. How frequently it dawns on me that I am running around in circles for no reason and all I have to do is turn and face Him, my safe place in the center. All I have to do is seek Him. Some day, if not on this earth then in Heaven, I hope to see Jim again and thank him for opening my eyes to this wonderful analogy.

(This is not me, just a picture I found to show you how this lady is moving the horse just by putting pressure on the horse's hind end.)

(This is Craig Cameron, horse trainer extraordinaire! Notice how the horse is dripping with sweat because they are afraid of Craig. Now notice that all Craig is trying to do is reward the horse for giving into the pressure that he is putting on him. He is not being forceful in any way towards the horse, yet the animal still keeps his guard up just in case.)

(Different horse just a few steps ahead of the white one in the last picture. There is much more slack in the lead and Craig is able to move closer and with much more ease. The horse has now figured out that to be with Craig in the middle is to be in a safe loving place.)