This past weekend I was able to go with my wife and daughter to the Stallion Expo at the MSU Pavilion. You might ask what type of an event is this, and I would say it is a high-end flea market for horse people combined with some seminars to help people be better riders, trainers, and what-not.
We spent several hours walking up and down the aisles looking at the wares of the different vendors, and I must admit that even though there seemed to be many repetitive items, I saw a couple of things that piqued my interest, including some manure transportation devices (not wheelbarrows) and a really clever hayfeeder that I will be thinking about putting together myself instead of buying one for several hundred dollars.
Other than walking around with my two favorite ladies, the highlight for me was going to a couple of the seminars on horsemanship. The first one was from a Pat Parelli instructor (look him up, he’s basically the most worshipped horse trainer in the field from what I hear) and the other one was from a gentleman named Dr. Lew Sterrett. They had different approaches to horsemanship, but you could see results in their techniques.
The Parelli instructor talked a lot about how to get your horse to do what you want by making him think it was his idea. There were a lot of little techniques, but that seems to be the main focus as far as I could tell. I have heard a lot about it from my daughter, and I have seen the games that she plays with the horses work for getting them to listen to her. As a relative “greenhorn” I have even employed some of them after I get tired of chasing them around the corral and basically losing my sanctification.
Dr. Sterrett’s techniques were a little bit “harsher” than the Parelli techniques, but I was listening to more than just his philosophy of training horses. As he spoke, he shared a good deal of biblical wisdom as well. Dr. Sterrett is also a pastor, and he did a great job of applying lessons from horse training to our personal lives. He was talking about the heavy sand in the arena and how that might make things a little difficult for the horse. He said it is important that you give your horse good footing when training because,
“A horse is a lot like a teenager. You have to teach them good footing so they know how to stand when their emotions get out of balance.”
That’s a pretty good little life lesson! I don’t think you would find any parent that would disagree with you on that, especially those who have raised their kids.
My favorite quote came later. When he was almost done, he asked if anyone had any questions. One gentleman asked him how he felt about using spurs. Dr. Sterrett asked the crowd what kind of horse you use spurs on, and the answer was a broke one. At first I thought that was the wrong answer because I had grown up watching Westerns and I had seen the tough, bronc rider climb up on that horse, grab hold of those reigns and dig those spurs in to get that horse a rockin’ and rollin’. So, what was I missing?
I was missing something that needs to come before the spurs come out – a trusting relationship between the horse and the rider. Dr. Sterrett then went on to say,”
“When you put a spur to a broke horse they never question the authority or the affection of the spur. They realize it is there for instruction and direction.”
Let that sink in. That is Christian discipline in a nut shell. God brings correction into our lives either through conviction form the Holy Spirit, or form those He has placed around us, and most of the time, that correction hurts! The degree of pain from it is often exacerbated when we don’t yield to it though. If we would just trust God and the things He is doing in our lives, then we would not fear the spur. It would just be an indicator that we either need to turn or get moving. It is not there to bring pain. It is an authoritative gesture delivered with affection to bring us into line again.
Let’s face it. Spurs hurt. What we believe about that spur makes all the difference. A person dedicated to growing in Christ will realize that the spur is there to simply reinforce the relationship that he is seeking through a yielding to the relentless power of Christ at work in his life.
Relentless growth comes through a yielding and a right attitude of God’s correction. It’s not always what we want, and sometimes it will hurt, but He’s always looking out for our good.