I have a buggy. Not a baby buggy, but a horse buggy. It is in terrible shape now, as I had no where to store it that was out of the elements. That is rather depressing, but it is also hard to get out of my driveway with it unless someone is standing right there and looking for traffic. After all, the horse is in front of you, unlike a car where you can just pull up to the edge of the drive and look. So it is a bit more dicey getting out into the road.
Well, one day a number of years back I decided to take the horse down a road that we had not been down before. Fun! Fun! My little girl was in the back…she was probably about 8 or 9 years old then. Anyway, with a horse you just never know what will cause them to freak out…so it pays to be on alert. I mean if you are riding down the trail and there is a drainage culvert on the side of the trail…the horse may see it as a “horse eating culvert!” Horses are prey animals by nature, and so are always looking out for things that may want to eat them. One of my friends once had a horse that refused to step on a drain grate in the trail. We have a pony who will jump over a puddle like a high jumper to avoid stepping in it. Over all, though our horses are pretty good out on the road and trails. However, as I said, it pays to be alert because animals have fears too. Some drivers, who would be very cautious about running into a deer, don’t seem to understand this and will zip by a horse and rider at about 70 mph without a thought. They make the assumption that the rider has the animal (which weighs in the neighborhood of 1200 pounds) completely under their command. This may or may not be true at that moment, but moment by moment as any experienced horse person will tell you, this can change.
It is all about relationship…how much does your horse trust you?!! My horse trusts me very much, but we had a rocky start when she was young, so it took a long time for me to convince her that I was in charge and trustworthy. The reason for our rocky start was that although I was a good rider, I was not good at ground work, and my horse was a baby so that was all we could do. As I said, it took a long time to overcome both of our fears and work out our relationship. I am a much more able horse person now than I was when I got her. Trial by fire and all. God really looked out for me while I was learning. He also looked out for my horse. Foxy has always been a bit spooky about new things and being aware of this, I am on alert. She has calmed way down as she has gained age and experience. I mean when she was a filly a milk jug scared her so badly that if you just showed one to her she was off and running. As she reached riding age it was the sound of the ice in a water bottle hitting the side of the bottle….you better toss that bottle and hang on for dear life. However, by the time she was five we could at least show her a milk jug, and could ride her with a bottle of ice water and wear a rain poncho on her. She had come a long way, and had a lot of trail miles under her girth (so to speak as a girth is the closest thing to a belt that a horse wears).
Anyway, so my horse has become a really good trail horse, but at this point in her life she still had a bit of the spook in her. (Though it is still a mystery how her mind works, as she walked right by a huge, huge, and did I mention how huge the combine and tractor were that she walked by with the buggy on the road? I was naturally praying non-stop as soon as I saw we were going to have to walk past that thing!)
So we were going down this road we had not been on before in the buggy and the kid was in the back. Suddenly this horse was saying with all her body language, “Oh Oh Oh No! I have never seen a bird that big in my entire life! I am having none of this! I am positive it is going to eat me! I am going to turn this buggy around on a dime and run for the hills!”
She had actually started to turn the buggy because this Emu just came running out of a little shed and flapping around its pen like it was a crazy bird. As soon as I saw that I knew what the problem was. Now my buggy is an Amish buggy (No, I am not Amish before you ask) and to get in and out of the buggy you have to go past the wheels and I mean you are right next to the front wheels. They are not designed to turn on a dime, being rather tall and all. So I knew that I better start praying that God would make this all right, and I did repeatedly, while also telling my horse, Foxy, words like, “Woah, easy, pretty girl, it’s okay, easy, eaaaassssyyyyy” in a very calm and soothing voice. I managed to convince her to stop and not turn around. I told my daughter to sit tight and not move. I was able to get out of the buggy while maintaining pressure on the reins and continuing to speak slowly and calmly to the horse.
My heart was not calm it was beating with a huge rush of adrenaline..but you have to pretend that everything is wonderful and nothing is bothering you to the horse…if they get the scent of your fear it is all over. Horses rely on their rider or driver as the leader of their herd. It is all about attitude. If you act like you are a bigger horse than they are, then they see you as a bigger horse…in a manner of speaking. You have to win your leadership position from your horse. As one of my friends once explained to me…..”You took your horse from her herd, now she sees you as her new herd, and she doesn’t care what position she is in the herd, 1st or 21st, but she needs to know her position. Right now she is trying to be first since she doesn’t know her position. If you let her know that you are first, then you won’t have anymore problems with her. She will be content to be 2nd.” This is pretty much how horses are. So it is all about maintaining an attitude of confidence so that the horse remains secure in your leadership.
Prayer frequently helps in dicey situations because God can help me to maintain a picture of calm confidence when I am literally scared to death. In this situation where the horse could turn around quickly and flip the buggy I was very frightened. God helped me to calm my horse so that I could get out of the buggy and quietly turn her. It took a good bit of physical strength as I was literally leaning on the horse’s neck and body as I turned her slowly around away from the thing that she feared…..that dreaded horse eating oversized giant bird. I could almost hear my horse screaming in her brain, “Mom! Did you see that! That is just plain wrong! What is that thing?! It has wings like a bird, but I have never seen a bird that big! I am sure it is some bird that has morphed into some giant thing like that by eating horses! We have to get out of here now….do you hear me….We need to leave now! It’s going to get us!”
Thankfully, as soon as she was no longer faced with the possibility of having to walk toward that dreaded Emu, I was able to get her calmed down and relaxed enough that I could get back into the buggy and drive her back the way we had come. My daughter was a champ through it all, and just sat quietly and waited for me to solve it all.
I was completely counting on God the whole time, as the whole thing was completely out of my control. At any moment my horse’s fear could have overcome her trust in me and we would have been on our way to disaster. God calmed me and helped me to calm the horse. He also allowed my little girl to put her trust in my ability and remain calm also. I surely felt God’s care and love in that situation.