If any of you are familiar with our horse, Spirit, you will know that he is our newest and "greenest" horse. A green horse is one who isn't yet ready to ride. Before he came to us, Spirit was a race horse who pulled a cart all of his life. He wasn't anyone's special boy, and very likely hated his job. When we first took him home he was skinny, skittish, and completely unacquainted with mud! It took him a few years to muscle up and become a real country boy before we felt comfortable doing doing any work with him.
The oldest and most often used term for readying a horse to ride is called "breaking". If your horse is "broke to ride" he is considered good to go. To break a horse essentially means to break his spirit so that he will do whatever you ask, without giving his opinion on the matter. We don't use to term, or the associated methods to get a horse ready to ride. We like our horses to retain their spirits and even their opinions, (which ours have no problem relating to us). We "start" our horses and typically do so once they let us know that they are ready. Spirit has had my mom on his back three times, all of which he stayed calm and willing for. No drama. No fireworks.
Yesterday, i got on his back for the first time. Before i attempted mounting him,i groomed him and we did some simple groundwork activities. All of the times before that Spirit has been mounted, he has first had his bareback pad secured on his back. When I took my first shot at it, swinging my leg over his back, Spirit kindly pivoted his butt away from me, as i gracefully fell to the ground in slow motion, (it really was graceful). He looked at my mom and i politely and then sniffed the jacket that was hanging on the hitching post in front of him. "Ok" my mom said, "he really wants his bareback pad on first." So i fetched the pad, no hard feelings, and strapped it on him before doing one more simple groundwork activity. This time he was ready. I hopped right back on Spirit's back and my mom led him around the pasture as he smoothly and quite contentedly carried me along with him.
If you are not a horse person you might not know how amazing it is that Spirit hadn't so much as pinned his ears the first time he was ridden.
Spirit is so calm and willing because we have proven ourselves to be faithful to him. We welcomed him to our farm and gave him time to truly settle in, loving him, pampering him and only training him to have simple manners. We never forced ourselves on him, and waited for him to be truly ready before we began the next phase in his training, something that will grow our relationship to him and give him a greater purpose. We also met him where he was at when he got nervous, even though it was more of a formality to make him more comfortable. The result was a willing horse heart.
Did we love Spirit any less before we started him? Absolutely not! Would we love him any less if he refused to work with us and deepen our relationship to him? No, but we would never be able to go farther with him and a relationship with an unwilling equine partner ultimately doesn't work out.
Upon pondering this whole situation, i have begun to understand the Father in a new way. I chuckle when i think of Spirit and his bareback pad. I think back to all of the times that i to have needed God to humor me, so that i could feel more comfortable doing something that He asked me to. Our God is sovereign. He never forces Himself on us and He always meets us where we're at. He met me where i was at in the least of places. He loved me when i wasn't willing to be His and He loves me now that i am! The only difference now, is that our relationship is secure. Now, i am moving forward in my purpose, with my Savior at the reins. For me, there is no better place to be.