Working with young horses has so many fun challenges! You have to help them learn to yield to pressure instead of fight it. You want them to allow you to do all sorts of things that go against their nature. The big lesson you want them to learn is to trust. They need to trust you so that you can help them navigate this human-run world safely and successfully!
A great trainer once said that “natural horsemanship” is a bit of a false advertisement. I want to communicate with the horse in a way they can understand, but I want them to allow me to do things that are NOT natural!
In the wild, the only thing that would attach itself to a horse’s back is a cougar or other cat predator. That would initiate a lot of bucking and thrashing in order to survive such an attack. Yet, I want to strap a saddle on and then climb up and have the horse listen to me instead of its instincts!
In the wild, being trapped by anything is a death sentence. You must be able to run freely away in order to stay alive. But I want a horse to yield their head to a halter and even let me hold their foot to clean out a hoof.
In the wild, running IS the way to survive! But in our world, running headlong away from everything would often put a horse in peril. Imagine the horse running away from a dog barking right into a road with heavy traffic.
Instead of asking the horse to do what is natural, I’m asking the horse to trust me MORE than its instincts. I want them to yield their body and mind to me. This allows me to show them the safest, best way to navigate the “human world”.
Trust isn’t Natural
As I worked with young horses and helped them trust and respect me, the lessons challenged me as well. Trust doesn’t come naturally to me. I want to question, reason, and control what happens to me.
But God requires my trust on this adventure. He knows the journey I’m on and He only asks that I trust Him through the process. Naturally, it makes sense to think of my needs first when it comes to my finances, yet God asks that I offer Him a portion of my “firstfruits”. Instinctively, I want to project strength and self-sufficiency, yet God says that in my weakness He is shown strongest. Strong impulses surge in me to fight and live as long as possible, yet God says that anyone who loses their life for His sake finds their life. Those “rules” don’t make sense in the “natural” world I live in. That is where trust comes in and forces me to rely on God’s wisdom and not my own.
Just as there are times my horse’s instinct are good and healthy, there is wisdom in following principles and safety practices. But, when my trust is misplaced, I won’t thrive in the God-created eternity I’m meant for!
One of my favorite counseling professors tried to sum up her relationship with God in one question. She felt He asked her every single day, “Do you trust me now?” Some days the answer is much easier than others, but part of embracing this adventurous life is trusting the Life-Giver.
Flighty Foal or Steady Steed?
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being instincts and 10 being God), where would your trust usually fall?
I wish I could say I’m a steady steed, but I’ve had horses trust more completely than I can sometimes. The ride is so much more enjoyable when the horse has faith in his rider.
Trust makes the adventure more ridable!