I stumbled across the article The Ten Minute Horseman a quite some time ago and think it is just brilliant and I encourage you to read it. I will expound on a few of the exercises she suggests as many of them are ones that I do in some form or another. The Lord gave me a gift with horses. I easily understand them mentally, physically and emotionally and it is articles like this that really help me realize that it truly is a gift from my creator as I do many of the things mentioned in the article without even meaning to do them. I hope to only bring some more insight into these exercises and not take away from the article in anyway.
Every moment you spend with your horse you are training them for either good or bad habits
You may read many articles about training horses and these great horseman’s secrets and just think “This is great….for them. I don’t have the time to put into my horse like these guys do.” Well, that is the biggest lie you can tell yourself. I currently am a horseman who right now has to put much of my horse time aside because I am raising three young boys (the oldest is 11) and sometimes I only have a few minutes. I also have 8 head of horses in my care between my own, boarders and ministry horses and that requires quite a bit of time. I may work from home and only have to walk out the back door and about 150 feet to the barn, but there are many things going on around here that keep me from working with my horses as much as I want to work with them. I put a lot of 10 minute sessions in with my horses so you can as well.
The author of the article has a job that takes her away from home most of the week just like most of the other people in our communities. She has learned to make the most of it and has even come to appreciate these short times. I have told students as well that even if they have just a few minutes to make the most of them. Don’t just throw the feed and hay at the horses and walk away, make the most of every moment.
My horse loves me!
No, your horse is testing you and you better not fail.
I see many people who own horses that love that their horse likes to be close to them. Why wouldn’t we for this is the non-verbal sign that we like another person and accept them and want to be with them. But that language doesn’t cross over into the horse herd. If you watch horses in a herd they seem to gravitate to the others that they get along with, but they don’t always get “buddy buddy” with each other. If a horse makes physical contact in any way it’s usually to push the other horse out of their way. It’s a way of exerting dominance over the other and if you remember from Groundwork: The Short and Skinny On It your horse has more peace of mind when you are the alpha in the herd.
This is where the “Hustle” comes in handy. It’s great that your horse wants to be with you and follow you around, but quite honestly there are times you need your space so you need to teach your horse to move away from you when you ask. This is especially helpful for when you have to take feed and grain out to your horse. Your horse should not demand to be fed, but should wait patiently.
However, if your horse gets rather grumpy at feeding time you may need to reassess your feeding regimen. Horses are grazing animals and in their element will eat approximately 18 hours a day. Does your horse have forage in front of him that much? If not you need to figure out a way to do this be it pasture or hay. If you are limited to feeding only hay (which we are at my small farm) you may want to invest in a hay net. I particularly like the ones made by the Hay Chix and you can find them for sale on the Cornerstone Farm web site.
Control of the feet
One of the simplest and most effective workouts you can have with your horse is getting them to move their feet. Ask them to take two steps back or to the side or move the front feet or hind feet and if you really get a good relationship with your horse going you can ask them to step towards you. This is the next most important thing to have with your horse aside from the “Hustle”. To get some ideas about how to do this read The Ten Minute Horseman in whole and put them into practice or check out Groundwork: Move those feet!
Most days when I only have a few extra minutes to spend with my horse but not enough time to ride, I will bring them in and give them a good grooming. In this I’ll handle their feet and work on a few other areas as well as spend some extra time on their favorite places to be scratched and brushed. This is a herd approved exercise as many times you will see two horses grooming each other. Take notice also that if the horse starts to push their limits in the relationship with the other horse the grooming time will end and a lesson may follow. Take that to heart and do the same with your horse.
I have always had the rule that if the horse takes a step towards me without being invited I make them take two steps back. Make this your ground rule for when you spend time with your horse. But have the wisdom to know the difference between a step taken for balance and a step taken in challenge or defiance.
The Vine and the Branches
Think also about your relationship with the Lord. Do you call yourself a Christian, yet struggle to invest time in reading God’s letter to you or speak to Him in prayer? Jesus said in John chapter 15 that He is the true vine, his Father is the gardener and we are the branches. The gardener will cut off any branches that do not produce fruit and if we want to bear the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) we must remain part of the vine. To be a part of the vine we must be connected. We get this connection through the Scriptures and Prayer.
I can think of a time when I put my personal study and prayer time on hold when my kids were all little, before any of them went to school, and the Lord was calling me to intense time of prayer with Him. My response was, “But Lord, I just don’t have the time!” He didn’t care for that answer.
The Lord brought a wonderful friend into my life who gave me Beth Moore’s book “Whispers of Hope” which is a prayer devotional. I finally picked it up and started it. At first I did it reluctantly and my prayers were short, “Sunday School” prayers. After about three weeks I had to purchase a separate notebook because the devotional book didn’t have enough space.
Even reluctantly taking time to spend with our Lord is worth the effort; He can work in this time. Taking that first, small step in obedience He has changed my prayer life and I love it. Now, to make you feel better I started this 10 week prayer book in December and I finished it in June, so it obviously didn’t go as consistently as it should have. But God isn’t interested in our perfect actions as much as He is in our obedience to Him.
Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? 1 Samuel 15:22
Just as much as we love when our horse obeys our requests; so does the Lord love when we obey His. Make the time to build the relationship with your horse, but even more important, spend time with our Creator and Lord who loves you more than you can even imagine. No excuses, just do it even if you have only 10 minutes, it’s worth it.
May the grace of our Lord be upon you, Greta