HORSES and LOVE (2011)
How do I even start this article? I have so many ideas floating around in my head right now. What is love? Is it a feeling? Is it an act of the will? Can it apply to horses? Are there parallels between God’s love for us and my love for a horse?
What is love?
“Love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object.” ~Voddie Baucham
I have a tendency to try to overpower things and to dictate terms, especially in horse training. I would try not to let my feelings get involved. Yet this tendency is not always helpful.
I had this mare for training (2011). I started by “explaining” to her how things were going to be. She promptly showed me that she was a lot bigger and did not like my agenda. I tried to “tell” her to be calm, and she showed me she had more patience than I did. I tried to show her that the rope wasn’t scary; she showed me she didn’t believe me.
Here I was, trying to force my will, my thoughts, on her and she wasn’t agreeing. I needed to take a step back. Why was she distancing herself from me? It took a while, but I think I figured it out. I did not love her; she was not my horse and I wasn’t even trying communicate that I cared for her, that she was more to me, more than just something to tame.
I realized I had to change that.
I started by just going to her, rubbing her forehead and being content. I would rub her gently and firmly. Then I began petting her, with the intention of feeling and being calm and relaxed myself. There was progress. Where before, she would stare off into the distance and hold herself aloof, now she would look back at me. She would allow me to rub her forehead and allow me to help her to relax.
Then while I was down in the round pen with her, as I was thinking about love, and God’s unconditional love toward us, I realized that I needed to love this horse that God had given me stewardship over (just for a little while). This horse had not done anything for me, but I was to show her compassion and understanding, just as God does for us.
I went down to her and prayed that God would give me a love for this horse. That it wouldn’t just be an action or a choice, but that it would be a feeling, a state of being. In that moment, I felt God’s love for me and how much He has forgiven me. After that, I felt an affection for this horse and I think it really helped us to connect. I left her halter and lead rope off. I just stood with her and worked with her (and myself) to just relax.
Then I was able to throw the rope over her, without her moving (previously, this was impossible), and then saddle her up, with her staying calm and relaxed. She could have left whenever she wanted, but she was much happier to be with me today. I felt such a joy just being with her. Me being me and her being her. No agenda and no set plan. Just living.
Before that day, she didn’t want anything to do with me or the saddle or ropes or anything that I was asking her to do. Then, in one day, that changed. But what changed? I was the one who changed.
We had a nice day of training and relaxing after that. What a difference attitude and thoughts can make. A lot of the “training” took place doing nothing other than thinking about being relaxed. I would look away from her, listen to the birds, feel the wind on my face, and try to really feel my weight on my feet. It seems to have a lot to do with being in the moment and living in the here and now (Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling).
I wanted to love this horse. I can’t just tell the horse I love you or do something for the horse so that she will know. I wanted to see if my feelings toward a horse could influence how the horse reacted. There was a change, but I can’t say how the change came about.
I think of how God loves us. We don’t seek Him. He must first seek us. We are resistant, sinful, rebellious, and unknowing of what can be a beautiful relationship. Is that not what we do with horses? We take horses who would rather have nothing to do with us and try to show them the joy of a horse/human bond, but they resist, they run away, and they are fearful of anything we try to do with them. We must be patient and lovingly seek them and allow them to come to us. Sure, we could throw a rope around them, tie them to a post, and jump on, but this will not give them a chance to love back.
So my prayer is that God would teach me to love as He loves.
Thanks for putting up with my ramblings. ❤
”It would be easier to count all the stars in the heavens or each grain of sand on the earth, than to measure or even seek to describe the love of God.” Paul Washer
“Whether or not you feel that God is around doesn’t alter reality. Whether or not you feel he loves you or that you are worthy of his love doesn’t change reality either.” -Brant Hanson