An Honest Horse
Yesterday I was riding Rain, a nice 4-year-old bay filly by our farm’s TWH stallion, Merry Joy’s Hallelujah Man ("Louie"), out of my personal riding mare, Miss Chief ("Moriah"). Last year Rain was worked in the round pen, taught to drive, and started under saddle. During the early part of this riding season my assistant put some trail miles on her. Rain is past the stage of green broke–but not yet what I’d call a finished horse. I’ve just started taking her out a couple of times a week to put the final polish on her. Rain’s gaits are so smooth and natural that it would be easy to neglect the essential job of teaching her to round up and come off her rider’s leg and into the bridle properly. Easy–but not right.
The trails we chose yesterday are heavily used by ATV riders. Some of the mud holes that develop on those trails can be deceptively deep. Because of this, we’ve learned to take our horses along the edge of a few of these. Rain and I were traversing one such spot where she needed to maneuver on a thin ledge of ground that ran between the mud hole and a stand of young trees. We’d managed to get around several such spots without incident, and I’m afraid I started placing too much confidence in my mount’s level of experience. As she came too close to a tree, I gave her a strong leg cue to push her away from it. Not familiar enough with leg aids, she responded by jumping forward rather than moving over. The unhappy result was that my leg and foot were caught up hard on the tree, which pushed me halfway out of the saddle. Rain was understandably upset and bolted several more steps, making it impossible to regain my balance. I ended up hanging off one side of a spooked, rushing young horse with my foot caught in the stirrup on the opposite side. Not a good place to be.
Aware of Rain’s very sensitive mouth (she’s like her mama that way), I managed to keep hold of the reins while hanging on primarily by her mane. Once we cleared the water hole, we were nearly eye to eye. Somehow I managed to keep my cool, look her in the eye, tug a few times on the rein, and ask her to "Whoa!"
Though Rain could have used this opportunity as an excuse to bolt for home (she was tired by now), she stopped cold and stood stock still while I extricated my foot from the stirrup and dropped unceremoniously to the ground. I stood, rearranged a few things, patted her neck, took a deep breath before remounting, and we rode toward home. Her behavior was as steady after the incident as it had been before–which was especially nice, since I was a bit shook up!
Rain is what I call an honest horse. She doesn’t look for excuses to misbehave, or take advantage of circumstances to get her own way. Though not yet perfect in her skills or understanding, she is perfectly willing to do the right thing–so long as she knows what that may be. She has no hidden agenda of her own, but entrusts herself to her rider’s will, and hand. This quality will make her an extremely useful animal as she matures and gains experience.
Integrity of heart. . .purity of intention. . .honesty. What a valuable characteristic this is, in both horse and in human. Though we may never possess perfect skill nor understanding, should it not be our highest goal to be a perfectly honest servant in the hands of our Heavenly Master?
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."
John 1: 45-49 (NIV)
He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'