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When Eye be the Judge

Let me tell you about Shank. I saw the seal bay gelding at an auction, and quickly decided that if the price was right he was going home with us that day. The price was right, and we took him home. At about 15.2hh, with a perfectly modeled head, large eye, and well muscled, it would have been difficult to find any fault with this horse's conformation. He followed us quietly out to the trailer and loaded without difficulty. The first sign of trouble wasn't until a day or two later, when he pinned his ears and turned as though to kick me when I entered his stall. Several days later he managed to paste me but good as I worked him on the longe line. I discovered that Shank had a tendency to behave himself just long enough to lure me into trusting him-and then he'd show me why I never should. He behaved like an abusive husband: Shank was not a kind or honest horse. It took me many months to finally determine that he never would become one (at least not under my tutelage), so we sold him to a large training barn. I gave the owner sufficient warning, but he too was taken in by Shank's good looks. (He, too, soon came to regret it.)

Then there was Annie. She was a nondescript mare, coon footed behind, who tended to be lazy and too easy to keep. There was a lump on her right jaw, a result of an early bout with strangles. Always hardy, she'd overcome the strangles and the resultant calcified lump was never more than a cosmetic issue. She was not very athletic but for some reason commanded the respect of all our other horses; within a short time she'd become pasture boss. This was a good thing, as she turned out to be a benign ruler. She possessed an incredibly smooth Indian Shuffle, and a rocking horse canter.

However, it wasn't her looks, pasture manners or smooth gaits that set Annie apart. It was her heart, and her innate wisdom. She tolerated adults, and never gave anyone a hard time under saddle-but the thing that set that little mare apart from most horses was her devotion to children. She loved nothing more than toting a young one around on her soft, broad back. The youngest, most timid rider would mount up, and her whole demeanor would change from having a slightly disgruntled, "Do I have to do this again?" look, to "Hi there sweetie, let's go have fun together!" She had an important job to do, and knew it. Annie helped more than one frightened youngster become a confident young horse person-and is now in a home where she continues in that valuable vocation.

We initially sold Annie to a different home. Within a day the new owner was on the phone, complaining about all of Annie's physical defects, and her tendency to be a bit pushy when being led toward food. I tried to encourage the buyer to give this sweet little mare time to settle in-but then discovered the real root of the problem. It seems the buyer's trainer had come over to inspect Annie, and based on accepted standards for physical criterion (and in spite of a thorough pre-sale vet check), had declared her 'unfit and unsound.' Though I was convinced she would be the perfect horse for the woman's small children, she had already been firmly persuaded otherwise. So we took Annie back, (not our usual policy-but Annie was special). Within days she found a new home with experienced horse people who needed an honest, trustworthy mount for their grandchildren. I'm happy to say it has been a great match.

How many of us do the same sort of thing to one another? We judge a person or situation in accord with various religious or societal standards, rather than discerning the true heart of the matter. We're impressed by physical traits, and overlook what may be more important qualities of character or achievement. We judge a person according to gender, weight, and manner of speaking or dress-any number of criterions-rather than making an effort to see beyond the obvious. We view a situation with our own set of biases intact, never realizing how much these may obscure the truth of a person or situation. How often I have failed to seek God's wisdom in all things, and yet believed and acted as though I knew how to offer correct responses to the situation in which He had placed me.

Isaiah 11:2-4a: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: John 7:24: 24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
 

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