Does your vision of the 10 Commandments restrict your creativity and skill, or does it boost it?

I first came across the 10 commandments observed in nature from the 10 qualities of a horseman by renowned horsemanship expert and author Pat Perelli.

Here is a quick comparison:

The 10 commandments

1. Only one God

2. No false gods

3. No misuse of God’s name

4. Observe the Sabbath

5. Honor father and mother

6. No murder

7. No adultery

8. No steal

9. No lie

10. No covet

10 horsemanship qualities

1. Focus

2. Balance

3. Truth (savvy)

4. Feel

5. Experience

6. Attitude

7. Impulsion

8. Respect

9. Timing

10. Flexibility

When I first saw Perelli’s list of 10 absolutes, I thought it made sense to compare it to God’s list of 10 in stone. Since my favorite Bible verse is John 10:10 (“the thief comes to kill and destroy, but I have come so that they might have life and have it to the fullest”), I observed a more detailed positive real life application.

I will attempt to give a picture of each of these 10 comparisons separately in an ongoing series of columns.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

The First commandment: only one god.

The only thing we can focus on continually without causing a problem is God. In the same way, a horse must stay focused on their human in order to stay out of trouble.

I like to tell everyone that we get to play the role of God to our horse, so that we know what God feels like when dealing with us.

Usually all problems stem from a horse forgetting about us. They drag us off, run over the top of us, etc., because they have lost their connection with us. Us focusing on God, or our horses focusing on us, keeps the shades from being pulled over that “first priority window,” while we engage our minds on other things. This always keeps the big picture in view, so we don’t sour ourselves and others with a seemingly one track mind.

We know that focus is the No. 1 thing that gets us good at anything. Focus helps us forget about our ego, separate non-essentials, and concentrate on exactly what is needed at a given time. We know it is critical in isolating areas to improve, or problems to solve.

But focus without the big picture can hurt us because we become insensitive, and therefore unresponsive to the “real world” around us. We might become satisfied just specializing on a component, but forget the reason we isolated it to start with.

The test of the purity of effort is to see how it helps the big picture!

Humans and horses that have their focuses always open to the real architect are much more useful than the ones who shut the curtains on the real window to our creator God.

Specifically in horses we will apply the first commandment by getting the horse to laterally flex, which I define as “praying” with the horse. We do this by engaging pressure (no rhythmic movement), letting them find relief, and then stroking them when they are in the desired position, further encouraging the correct response as pressure is let off when they are right.

With the prayer, we first acknowledge who is in control. We then strive for a willing, teachable attitude, and finally practice the ability to wait. True prayer also encompasses a clear-thinking mind, so that God may be able to work through us as one of the methods He answers prayer.

We apply this to horsemanship by alternating pressure and the stroking movement as we laterally flex, to ask them to move and don’t move. This stimulates a “Simon says” type of game that sharpens their focus on us.

To summarize, the first commandment helps us truly pray, focusing on our creator, fostering a teachable attitude, building patience and a clear, sharp-thinking mind.

Mike Daniels is a horsemanship trainer and barefoot hoof-trimming specialist from Raymondville. Email: