Horses give you the gift of simplicity—seeing the world through their eyes. There is no pretense with a horse—they’re direct and only say what they mean.
Horses don’t care if your eyebrows are plucked, if the crease in your jeans isn’t sharp, if your boots are hand-me-downs, or if you missed a juicy promotion. People are impressed or intimidated by lots of things, but horses aren’t concerned about net worth, who you know, or who you’re related to.
Horses only care about who you are in relationship to them.
Kinda like God.
Getting the Upper Hoof
Horses teach us how to behave more than we teach them. Folks often assume that the horse is at fault when it fails to learn a lesson. It’s more likely that the horse either didn’t know what to do or beat you at your own game. Maybe you’ve heard Clinton Anderson say, “Whoever controls the feet wins.” In many cases, the feet that move are yours.
It is opinions of our own which make us stupid; when we are simple we are never stupid, we discern all the time.
Human opinions add layers of complication to relationships where none need exist. We talk and pontificate, as horses look at us with amusement or disdain. Horses lean on you, ignore you, step into your space—and what happens? We move our feet!
Dealing With Equine Divas
Thirty-some years ago, Mr. Baber set out to bathe our first broodmare, Sugar. After four years of racking up championships across the county, she knew more about wash racks than Mr. Baber.
Sugar planted her hooves five feet from the broad concrete slab. Baber tried to pull her, coax her, and pick at her, but she didn’t move. I could see that she was cool, calm, and self-centered—reminding me of a Hollywood starlet, yawning while examining her manicure.
Why did Sugar refuse? Because she could.
Frustrated, Baber asked me, “What’s wrong with her?”
I said, “She’s being a pig.” (Pig is the equestrian term for Diva.)
Baber handed me the lead rope. After I told Sugar what I thought of her behavior she sweetly walked into the wash rack while Baber fumed behind us.
We still have two of Sugar’s grandsons. They so remind me of her!
Stupid Human Tricks
Years ago, a late-night talk show had a regular segment called Stupid Human Tricks. As long as we don’t go overboard, horses are amused by our antics. People endlessly repeat a cue to a horse watching more than listening, looking blankly into our face or next door where your neighbor is stacking hay—doing everything except what we want.
Organizing a longe line with grace is an acquired skill. It’s one of our learning curves that offers moments of amusement to our equine partners.
Managing a longe line is child’s play compared to taming a lariat. I had an experienced roper in one of my clinics. A longe line is a familiar extension of my arm, but a lariat is another critter entirely — it’s like trying to negotiate with a Slinky. After watching me mess awkwardly with it the second time, she ran out of patience. She strode over and pried it gently out of my hands. I admired her restraint.
She neatly coiled the lariat and handed it back so I could give it to the next participant. We tag-teamed for the rest of the exercise.
I don’t know what the horses thought.
Horses Move You Closer to God
No relationship is directly comparable to the one we have with God, but horses get me closer than anything else. Life with horses offers a perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise. I can stand at the bottom of the staircase looking up at the same time I stand at the top of the staircase looking down.
Life with horses taught me how to wear the shoes of both leader and follower in comfort.
Horses make better study partners than people. The opinions, prejudices, and influences we bring to relationships confuse issues rather than create simplicity. Horses bring us back to the basics.
If you’re looking for objective feedback on your abilities or behavior, horses always provide honest and consistent responses. They are an amazing gift and evidence of God’s grace.
Where in the world can man find nobility without pride, Friendship without envy, Or beauty without vanity? Here, where grace is served with muscle and strength by gentleness confined, he serves without servility; he has fought without enmity. There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent. There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
Ronald Duncan, “The Horse,”
Related post: 7 Simple Rules for Success With A Horse
This post is part of the chapter, “Keep it Simple”, in Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace. For more information, visit Lynn’s Amazon author page.
Perhaps it would encourage you to know that I didn’t discover your work until I had just bought 4 horses (2 studs mind you) at a sort of mid life turning point (crisis 🙂
I had been a Christian for about 20 years. Was really trying to figure out how horses think after one of the stud colts began testing everyone around him and was quite smart.
Everything in creation speaks God wisdom in different ways. You succinctly capture the unique way horses express the emotional intelligence of our Father
Zeke, the more you know how God models relationship, the more you know about horses. “Everything in creation speaks God wisdom in different ways” is a fabulous observation—and that wisdom is always consistent and agrees with God’s word. I specialized in stallions for more than 20 years. They’re special, and I owe so much of what I know to the years I worked with them. It’s a great journey!
Encouragement received and appreciated!
Hi Lynn, I just wanted to say as a Christian and an inexperienced horse person, I greatly enjoy your articles.
Thank you, Zeke. Your encouraging note lets me know that the horse posts are still important. If you want to go deeper, check out the Gospel Horse Series. You can click the link on the bottom of the article. There are 4 books that link relationship to God with our horses, lead readers to understand how horses think, how to build connection, inspire obedience, and even how to train specific skills. If you ever have a question, drop me an email or use the CONTACT tab on the website.
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