Recently, I have been volunteering at a local barn called Mounted Ministries. Cathy, the owner, uses Christ Centered Riding to foster spiritual growth and personal achievement. The first time I went to observe, Cathy and her students greeted me with open arms and instantly invited me in to begin learning the basics of natural horsemanship and how horses can be used to show Christ’s love for us. Mesmerized by how Cathy taught her students discipline in faith and in life, I knew God had led me to a place that was special and good in his eyes.
The first day, I was on the outside of the arena watching the lessons when a young black horse walked up named Smokey. Smokey began his journey at Mounted Ministries in a wilder stage and had an awful biting problem, but they worked with him and now he is being used in the Hallelujah Horse Camp during this summer! This horse had completely transformed and became new through proper training. Cathy even displayed an awesome trick with Smokey where he laid down with her on his back. I was in awe as I watched this horse surrender and trust a human so willingly.
Today, I had the privilege of working and learning with Smokey on the lunge line in the arena! The purpose of lunging a horse is to check how they carry themselves, to refresh their attitudes, and for them to learn the cues that are being asked by us. It is a fundamental step to bring the horse’s attention to you. I have never been taught the proper techniques of lunging and honestly, many have just threw the lunge line and said “lunge the horse”, without any explanation at all, but Cathy walked through the process with us. Techniques such as :
- Standing behind a barrel and staying in the center to make sure we are not placing constant pressure that unnecessary on the horse.
- Asking the horse to” walk on” and saying in a high pitch, “tr-ot!”, and “hault!”
- Then telling the horse, while popping the whip on the ground to initiate
- Furthermore, one must demand if the horse does not respond to these cues by stepping in front of the barrel (showing dominance) and popping the whip on the ground toward the horse’s hindquarters to receive a forward motion.
It takes time to catch on to the horse’s body language and your own! At times, Smokey did not respond, but with repetition and perseverance, Smokey submitted to what I was asking of him and I learned how to ask the question in the proper way.
It was an incredible feeling. In the way the horse submits to the human to show respect, we must also submit ourselves to God. That way we can walk with God and discern what he is asking of us. When a horse and human are able to work together, with trust and respect, the results are far greater than if the horse or human were to resist. In the same way, when we surrender to God’s love we begin to develop a relationship with Him. God desires be at the center of our lives where we are able to trust and stay in rhythm with His Will.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
The lesson ended with Cathy letting me try a trick with Smokey. I stood at his shoulder, said “down”, and the kicked sand up across his front hoof. Now I am not sure if he went down because he wanted to roll in the sand or because he trusted me, but either way I was thankful for being able to witness that. It is extraordinary to watch as patience, understanding, and respect come together to create something productive and beautiful.