Biology isn’t the only criteria for who is or isn’t a mother or father. Raising bold, believing children requires knowledgeable, dedicated, persistent, and God-fearing parents.
Likewise, it takes knowledgeable, dedicated, and persistent owners or trainers to develop confident, reliable horses. The cause of most disobedient or dangerous teenagers is parents who were absent physically, emotionally, or both. Horses without firm, steady guidance can also become resistant or unpredictable.
Worse than absence, some kids have abusive parents. Children become vulnerable when otherwise well-intentioned parents lack the skills, discipline or dedication to teach, defend, and love them properly. Horses also suffer abuse when otherwise well-intentioned owners can’t or won’t properly teach, defend, and relate to their horses.
Kids and horses with limited confidence or social skills rarely fit in because they can be high maintenance, frustrating, or emotionally draining. Tragically, many end up playing musical foster homes or are traded from barn to barn.
We are responsible to teach children and horses to communicate—which includes learning to listen to them. As parents or horse trainers, building solid relationships is our responsibility. It’s easier to achieve proper relationships with horses and children when we’re rightly related to God, because He’s the ultimate authority on right relationship.
God ➡️ Parent ➡️ Child
There is no ultimate authority or example of how to build strong relationships other than God. Success as a parent or horse trainer and the quality of connection you have with kids and horses is a function of your own obedient relationship with Him.
The Holy Spirit teaches you how to communicate effectively, with both insight and humility, and how to build a structure supporting future growth and development. Parents teach relationship and build firm foundations that serve throughout a child’s lifetime; strong enough to overcome challenges and withstand future storms.
Training horses isn’t much different. The patterns of building faithful and effective kids, horses, and Christ-followers follow parallel tracks. Please don’t underestimate the power of studying and applying the ways Jesus Christ, the Master trainer, taught His disciples.
Dominance Destroys Potential
Harsh hands or training techniques based on dominance may get a horse to yield, but will poison positive relationship and never produce a sound foundation. When lessons come with pain, horses learn to fear and hate, and so do we. Horses that only yield to pain are just as lost as people who are unable or unwilling to yield to the loving guidance of the Great Shepherd.
God is faultless in training His children, but every parent makes mistakes and every trainer makes wrong judgments. Still, it’s important to realize that all error is not sin. One of my goals is to never make the same mistake twice. I’ve been reasonably successful with that, but because I keep trying, I make new ones all the time.
Above All, Encourage Effort
The most important element of any learning or relational exercise is the willingness to try. How you receive that effort often determines the outcome.
The best truth-tellers on earth are horses and children. Thankfully, horses and children are very forgiving creatures, but it’s your responsibility to listen to them and motivate them to listen to you.
Without communication, there is no education. In its absence, children and horses can’t learn skills or develop confidence and independence.
Without communication, there is no relationship. The more you work on relationship with your Master, the more effective you will become in your family, community, nation, and with your horse.
“Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world.” — Josephine Demott Robinson
Related post: Great Listeners Make More Effective Teachers and Preachers
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The basis of this post is a partial excerpt from the chapter Leadership or Domination in Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace: Lessons in Leadership, Relationship, and the Power of Faith Inspired by the Love of God and Horses