This series exploring the 10 Commandments in nature concentrates this week on the Second Commandment, no false gods, using the horsemanship quality of “balance” as a comparison.

The first absolute of “only one God” demands continual observance with no danger of fanaticism. But no false gods is all about balance, and lack of balance brings us into fanatic territory. Over-focus on things that impress, or avoidance of things that intimidate, are the culprits here.

In horsemanship, a person might think that balance is the part that keeps a rider on board, which is true. But the more important long-range balance involves “emotions.”

Ultimately, a human will stay more focused on God, and a horse more focused on its human, when they are not as intimidated or impressed by other things. This is the commandment that helps produce courage and bravery. It is somewhat related to the adultery commandment in that it contributes to self-control. It also relates to the observe-the-Sabbath rule because it demands brainwork.

But the main thing this component does is to make life more abundant by dealing with issues and fears we tend to avoid. Mom can soothe at the expense of bravery. Dad can stress bravery at the expense of gentleness. But all can forget the reality of real life surprises “kid” brings to the scene.

The issue is to get all of these into the picture in a correct balance.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

How I apply this to horses is by using three basic ways to teach them that I don’t want them to move from or change what they are doing. I call these “the three nothings.”

I don’t want horses to change what they are doing when I pet them (mom nothing). I also don’t want them to freak out when I rhythmically swing or jump around them, or slap equipment on them (dad nothing) or when I sporadically do those things while adding loud noises (kid nothing).

If you think about it, no matter how skillful we or our horses get, it’s useless if we are easily distracted or can’t hang in there under pressure. The only way to get it better is to slowly ratchet up the pressure, and give relief only when the horse accepts it rather than trying to escape.

We can all hear mom telling dad to “stop that, can’t you see it’s bothering ’em?” And we can also hear dad telling mom, “I can’t stop until it don’t bother ’em.”

Mom’s job is to soothe in between courage exercises with dad, but not interfere, and likewise dad needs to respect mom’s soothing.

Then we have to graduate to the “kid nothings.” Those are the sporadic, unsuspected movements and noises that are closest to real life surprises that keep us on our toes. It’s funny that true “horse whispering” has us alternating between petting (mom), jumping jacks (dad), and yelling “boo” (kid)!

This is one of the most comical, creative, yet muscle building methods of producing courage and bravery. And when you can keep you and your horse’s emotions balanced, you can spend more time growing, rather than nursing wounds. That plus unending prayer is cheap health insurance.

Throughout history, the mark of truly courageous people (and their horses) who have accomplished the most good is having beaten back their false gods (adult baby bottles) of short term fears and pleasures to focus on the author of life.

They were tired of the “coin-operated” pony rides, and looked ahead to the real-life, long-lasting horseback ride that showed the picture of true balance.

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