Christianity and Horses

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

This amazing verse is something to apply to everyday life. We are told to apply this to all the people around us. However, I have also found that it can be applied to horsemanship as well.
Countless times in the Bible, God uses animals to help us understand things. Here are a few examples:
In Numbers 22, Balaam (a pagan priest, who used parts of animals to foretell the future) is riding a donkey when something happens. His donkey is walking along and slams his foot into the wall. Balaam strikes the donkey and it is repeated 2 more times. Finally the Angel of the Lord opens the donkey's mouth and the donkey says, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”
So the donkey said to Balaam, “ Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?”
And he said, “No.”
Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.”
And Balaam said to the Angel of the LORD, “I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back."
More than three thousand years ago a man named Job complained to God about all his troubles. And the Bible tells us that God answered:
Have you given the horse strength?
      Have you clothed his neck with thunder?

 Can you frighten him like a locust?
      His majestic snorting strikes terror.

 He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength;
      He gallops into the clash of arms.

 He mocks at fear, and is not frightened;
      Nor does he turn back from the sword.

 The quiver rattles against him,
      The glittering spear and javelin.

 He devours the distance with fierceness and rage;
      Nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet
has sounded.
 At the blast of the trumpet he says, ‘Aha!’
      He smells the battle from afar,
      The thunder of captains and shouting.


Sometimes animals can really help us learn things and turn to God for help. 
With that said, I thought I would touch on the fruits of the spirit with horses.

If you love your horse, it will shine! Sometimes people just use their horses for ribbons, or just for fun. But if you truly love your horse and want the best for him, then you will put your relationship first. Horses don't care about ribbons, or what their pedigree is. They just want to be happy, content, and do things with the least resistance.

Finding your horse's joy. We have a mini hinny who only loves to go for walks. We gave up our goals, and did what was best for him. Joy is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. So if you both find joy, then what more could you want?

Having peace with yourself and your horse. Freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, and anxiety. Have a mind that is clear and focused. The more things that you think about while playing with your horse, the less your horse will put effort into things. It's not fair for a horse to perform while your thoughts are elsewhere.

Quiet, steady perseverance. The ability to stay patient while things are hectic around you. Horses are so patient with us, that we should be able to be patient with our horses.

Being kind to a horse. We shouldn't be mean to a horse, because they are not mean to us. We have the ability to be 'mean' but that makes us responsible to not be. We should not do anything that a horse would consider unhelpful.

Goodness is always coming from the inside of the horse. Never are they 'bad' without an excuse. However for humans, we find is very easy to be 'bad' for no particular reason. Maybe because we just get frustrated, or sad, or let down, or mad. We need to prove to them that we can be consistent, trusted, and good. We're responsible to match their goodness, consistency and trust capacity. There you find the equal relationship.

Being faithful to our horses can come in many different forms. Whether it's sticking through the downs in our journey, going with the flow of what your horse has to offer, or upholding promises, we need to be faithful to our horses. Sometimes people give up on their horses. But our horses would never give up on us. If they want to teach us something, they answer our suggestions with consistency, patience, faithfulness and they trust that we'll respond. When horses don't want to do something, it's always on our part, and we need to listen to our horse's faithfulness and fix ourselves.

Not severe, rough or violent. Gentleness comes in the form of softness, lightness and kind. It is a huge lesson, and big factor in our horsemanship that lightness comes from the outside of a horse. It's the feeling you get when your horse is willing to answer your suggestions. Now softness comes from the inside of the horse. When they are overall, very willing to do anything that you ask of them and ready to do anything for you. It's easy to take that for granted though. I've seen so many people do it. And we should never do that to our horses. So be gentle, soft and light.

Self Control
Self control is huge with horses. You have to be under control when you work with a horse. Emotions cannot be brought into the arena and if you bring feelings to your work, then a horse will not know how to respond. They think in pictures and don't understand anger, frustration, or confusion. As the amazing bible verse says: Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart when you work with a horse. Leave your emotions at the gate and things will go smoother for you and your horse.

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