Thursday, October 31, 2013

Appropriate Pressure


my training...


     In January I got a pony mare whom I've called Wildfire and others have called Spitfire.  If you haven't figured it out from her name, she is a spirited, sometimes wild little pony. A lot has changed in the past 9 months and she is a totally different horse. Here is a list of my struggles.
*It took us at least one hour to catch her at her previous owner's place.
*She would whinny, prance, and pull away from me when I would take her out of the pen away from the horses.
*She would snort, shy, and run when a lead rope was swung, twirled, and thrown, around, over, and on her.
*She would step away and snort at the sight and feel of the saddle thrown over her.
*You could not trust her to ground tie.
*I walk out and catch her. If she does walk away, she will turn back to me when I ask her to.
*She turns, faces me, and stands as I shut the gate and follows me quietly as we exit the pasture.
*She tolerates the sight and sensation of a rope being swung, twirled, and thrown around, over, and on her.
*She will stand with the lead line dropped to the ground while a saddle is placed on her back.
*She can be trusted to ground tie...well half of the time, it's still a work in process!

     Even with all these improvements and changes, she was still a challenge to ride (and the first picture you saw was what our riding used to be like). I have to give a lot of credit to the horse trainer/cattle rancher who was willing to take the time to teach me how to better communicate with my horses. This past month I have been blown away by the changes I experienced with Wildfire and even the horse trainer said she looked like a totally different horse. 

She has more bend in her body with less brace, she will side pass, move her shoulders away from pressure, move her hindquarters away from pressure, and can stay somewhat collected while moving forward.   She backs well with a nice collected frame and is learning what I think is a more difficult manuver—engaging the hindquarters. I understand that most of you are thinking, what is she talking about; can she write in English?   Hang in there, I'm getting to the point of this article.
Basically, Wildfire has learned to submit to my will.  Before she would fight with me and go rather crazy --going in the opposite direction I asked by pushing into the pressure I applied instead of moving away while moving her feet too many steps, rearing, and bobbing her head.  She was very good at distracting me from my goal, which put her in control and kept me from following through with what I asked her to do.  On the advice from the trainer, in went a bit and on went my spurs.  Now I had the tools I needed to follow through with what I asked and to teach this stubborn pony to submit and yield to pressure rather than press into it.  Now when Wildfire tried to fight, she was met with more precise pressure from the bit and the poke of a spur.  She became agitated as she realized that resisting was more painful now and it was so much more pleasant to submit.  As I learned to focus on the one thing I was asking Wildfire to do while blocking her other movements with my spurs and reigns, I realized that a little pain was necessary to get through to this pony.  I was not being cruel, nor heartless.  I remembered how the horses were not afraid to leave a mark on each other with a bite or hard kick when establishing authority.  My measly bit and spur was nothing compared to a powerful kick or bite from a horse, yet it was just big enough to establish my authority.  Applying more pressure actually made it easier and more obvious for Wildfire to understand what I expected of her.  It made her feel secure and safe knowing that I was her leader and in contol of the moment so she didn't need to be.  Now after a month, I rarely need to use my spur if only just to touch her lightly and her head bobs less and less as she finds comfort in feeling my hands through the bit and reigns.  Finally she had found that the right thing was easy and the wrong thing was difficult.

     This makes me think of those Christians whose relationship with God is similar to that of a rebellious pony, yet they as a reasoning human know what is right and what is wrong.   How sad and frustrating this must be for believers who have discipled and invested in these Christian's lives and even more so for God. God never loses focus of his plan for our lives.  He also knows the appropriate pressure to apply in our lives to make it difficult for us to keep rebelling against his ways and sometimes it's painfull.   Will we submit?   How far will God have to go with us?  Will He have to take our life if we refuse to obey Him?   I know a story of a horse trainer who had a very challenging horse.   This horse had many problems, and although he was able to demonstrate that the horse could be rode, he recommended that the owner put the horse down because it was so dangerous.   Unlike animals, we can change through the power of the Holy Spirit gifted to us at the time of our salvation, but it's our choice.   Even after salvation, we still must choose to live God's way rather than continue doing things our way.  God's way brings eternal peace and comfort, but the world's way brings eternal pain and suffering.  Like Wildfire, sometimes we have to experience pain before we can experience the peace, comfort, and joy in doing things our Master's way and for us as people that's God's way!

Horse owners/trainers:
Will you apply the appropriate pressure when necessary?
Will you respond to the slightest suggestions from God and if not, are you ready for God's appropriate pressure?

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Proverbs 16:25 

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways
 higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." 
Isaiah 55:8-9 

"Doth not He see my ways, and count all my steps?"
Job 31:4