One Friday morning, one of the volunteers at the ranch wanted to go riding so a couple of us went along for help and support. The other two hopped on Victor and Glory while I jumped on Reva. As we headed out toward the over pass and levees, my commands to Reva were only irritating and frustrating her. She had her mind made up to go back to the barn or familiar territory so she reverted to dancing around and backing up. Due to the struggle I was having with Reva, I headed back to the stable area and we all made an attempt to journey around the lake going in a different direction then we previously had been. She still was showing her disobedient manner of backing up, dancing around and trying to go back to the barn. We eventually decided for the two other riders to go on ahead and I traveled back to the arena in an attempt to work with Reva on her resistant behavior. Once I led her into the training grounds and climbed on her back, I rode her around for a little bit to see how she would respond to my direction giving inside the fence boundary and she obeyed like nothing had never been the problem. Despite the frustration I was experiencing with Reva not minding when I was expecting her to, God taught me through Reva that the fence surrounding the arena is like our parents authority and when we get outside of that we tend to start telling God where we want to go and do. The whole while God is leading us with His quiet, still voice where He knows it is best for us to be and when we keep bucking Him, He takes us back where we came from - our parents boundaries -and refreshes us with the basics till we are ready to go out again and respond biblically to HIS authority. Thank you, Father, for teaching me this lesson through Reva!
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3
One day, I was working with Tebow, our newest horse here at the ranch even though he is the oldest in age, and was tackling the task of picking his hooves. As I struggled to pick up his back foot, I began to realize Tebow's stubbornness to give it over to me. It made me think about my resistance to God when He asks me to give Him an area of my life in order for Him to clean (pick :)) out all the sin (rocks, manure, dirt, etc.) that He hates there and could potentially cause harm. Once I give Him every area of my life and body the relief and cleansing is tremendous. So my task and response needs to be - give it to Him; after all, look what He gave for you and me, His Son, Jesus! John 3:16
What a privilege it is to be able to work with God's creatures here on His Ranch! It seems as though every week there is another valuable lesson to learn from one of our horses. I have already written about Glorie and her tendency to fear unknown things. As I have taken more of a personal interest in working with her recently, she is teaching me another spiritual truth.
We've had a busy summer, and although our season is not over, I have sensed the horses becoming weary of it all. They have so many different people riding them and telling them what to do and we don't have a lot of extra time to focus on working individually with each horse and building their trust and respect for us. Over time, I think they must get confused with all the mixed messages and simply stop respecting boundaries. Some of them are displaying this with attitude. If they sense that their rider is not capable of being the boss, they will take over. When a horse discovers they can get away with something, they will. Our girls especially can be drama queens. So the last week or so, Glorie decided she's had enough of this and started kicking her back legs when being ridden. Not vicious, but basically bucking. I knew we needed to work this out, but didn't know how to handle it. One day I tried working with her in the round pen, and I knew she was very skittish about strange objects and pretty sensitive to things touching her hindquarters, but I found out just how sensitive. We had a little explosion. We got over it, but I was afraid I might have made things worse instead of helping her. Now that we're being blessed with milder temperatures, our trainer was able to come out on the usual day, and so we asked him to work with Glorie on this habit. He spent a few hours with her and she is doing much better now. He gave us some advice on how to curb these behaviors. He told us that we have to go back to the basics. That has stuck with me the past few days. The most basic thing you do with a horse is to desensitize them to uncomfortable things. It starts with getting them used to the touch of your hands all over their body. From there you move into objects. Some of them are things your horse will encounter on a daily basis and needs to accept in their routine, such as a rope, a saddle pad, or a brush. It is the same concept with everything; touching and rubbing the horse all over with the object, until they no longer shy away from it. We also use other things that the horse could encounter randomly, like plastic bags, water bottles, an umbrella, a piece of string or a rag around the leg. All of this is teaching them to react calmly to new sounds, sensations, and objects. It is also teaching them to trust their handler. When the horse gets it in her head that none of these strange things are hurting her while her handler is with her through the whole experience, she will be more prone to focus on her handler instead of the scary new thing in other situations.
So when I work with Glorie now, I'm going back to the simple basics, slowly and gently, but with firm assurance. I am asking her to trust and respect me over reacting to her natural instincts. Hopefully I am building a relationship that will help to keep her within the boundaries when we're in the arena with a child.
It made me think about how many times in my life I have had to go back to the basics of truth about God and my relationship with Him. We all go through seasons where we drift away from the foundation of Christ. We get too busy to spend time with Him. We are distracted by so much other input and often we don't even realize how much our perception and beliefs have been changed by other sources until we suddenly take stock and find we have made a huge move away from truth. And God doesn't condemn us. He doesn't read us the riot act and throw us away. He will discipline, but it is for our greatest good, to bring us back into right relationship with Himself. He knows that is the only way we will be happy and complete. He comes with firmness, but also with gentleness and assurance. He takes us back to the basics. Back to the cross. Back to His words of life. Back to the hope and promise that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, saved by grace, living for a purpose beyond ourselves, and destined for eternal life. He asks us to trust Him and look at Him as we're going through uncomfortable experiences, because He is with us the whole time. He is using things that at first seem scary or irritating or strange to us and He is working out a purpose beyond our comprehension. If you are in a place today where life seems piled on top on you and you find yourself reacting instinctively with unhealthy thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, stop.....and allow God to take you back to the basics.