I laid aside taking on training horses for clients when my husband and I decided to grow our family. Now that our youngest is almost 7 and in school the subject has been brought up about opening the doors again for training clients. As much as I enjoy working horses, reaching goals, and making better citizens for the horse community, I am very hesitant to go back to work for the general public. I do not miss the stress of a client expecting a horse to be achieving a goal on their time line long before the horse is mentally or physically ready just to make the owner’s pocket book happier. That and getting the calls about six months after the horse returns home to hear the owner complain that I didn’t do anything to train the horse, that they just got it out to go for a ride and they still had the same problem as before they sent it off to training.
And there in lies the problem…
As many of you know who have followed this blog (even though it has been so long since the last posting), I incorporate the Word of God into all my horse training and analogies. This past weekend it hit me.
I cannot remember if it was it Friday morning about 9:45 or Saturday morning about 8:00, either way I was listening to a pastor on Bott Radio and he explained it beautifully. The phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” has been a bit of a ‘finger nails on the blackboard’ phrase to my husband and I for quite sometime, and this pastor used it. Ugh! But then he went on. He explained that this “personal relationship with Jesus” is not a mushy gushy relationship, but it is the relationship that we cultivate outside of our time at church. It is more than the spoon feeding that we receive with the pastor from the pulpit.
That, of course, got my wheels turning in my life. I cultivate my relationship with Jesus daily. I grow in the knowledge of my Lord daily and I encourage all of you to do so as well. But then, being who I am, it got me thinking about our relationship with our horse. As I have explained before, our relationship with our horse mirrors our relationship with the Lord, and He has so much to teach us through our horse.
This is the same type of problem that I encounter with clients. They drop the horse off and leave it with me for two to three months. For those 60-90 days I am with that horse every day. I feed them, groom them, discipline them, teach them, build trust with them, help them grow their confidence and teach them proper respect. We build a relationship because of the day to day activities we experience together. Through this time together, about once a week I visit with the client about their horse (much like the pastor visits with his congregation about their Lord), things sound good and we continue on this way.
Of course then comes the day where I feel the horse is in a good place and the owner can take their horse home again, but that is where the trouble begins. You see this owner has not experienced life with the horse at all in the last 60-90 days. They have not walked together through the scary times and reassured their horse that everything is okay. They don’t know the horse to know what makes them tick or what makes them shut down. They have not earned that horse’s trust to lead them with confidence and the horse then reverts back to what it knew of this relationship before.
Who is to blame?
I remember once working a horse for a gentleman. He described her as “spooky and flighty”, and that she was. Very nice AQHA chestnut mare. I took her on for two weeks and began laying the foundation for a good relationship with her and we made good headway. But then as my helpers in the barn helped with turning out, grooming and such I noticed this horse forgot everything I had taught her. That is when the light went on for me. It wasn’t the training that mattered, it was the relationship. I contacted the owner and let him know what was going on. That she was going to be a one person horse and that it would be a waste of my time and his money for me to continue. He thanked me for my time with her and took her home again. That was one of the last “outside” training horses I took on with this new understanding as our family continued to grow and I knew I needed to focus on my children which the Lord entrusted to me.
So what is the general point of all this?
To help you know what your responsibility as a horse owner and church goer is. To help you understand what this “personal relationship with Jesus” is truly all about. You are responsible for cultivating your relationship with your horse to get the most out of your “investment”. This will be much more satisfying for you as well as safe. But on the same note you are also responsible for cultivating your relationship with Jesus. It is not something that can grow just one morning a week at church. Just as a relationship with a horse cannot be gained in just one lesson a week. It is a day in and day out, experiencing life together, going through the thick and thin of it all, together.
This leaves me at a bit of a predicament though. Culture is changing. Students are not committed to weekly riding lessons as they once were. Horse owners would rather pay someone to “fix” their horse than put the work in themselves, but horses are not mechanical like a car or four-wheeler. I still have the desire to help people become horsemen and to create better citizens for the horse community. But what will that look like for 2019? That I do not know but I would love to hear your input. Until then though, grow in the knowledge, wisdom, and favor of our Lord. Remember also that He was born in a stable and will not mind at all meeting you in the barn. Who knows, He may chose to speak to you through the horse. After all they are a magnificent creation of His.
Check out His description of the horse in Job 39:19-25.