God’s Eighth Commandment is do not steal, and the horsemanship comparison would be “respect.”

This is a sensitivity issue. We steal when we become dull to our surroundings and the activity around us. Too much focus on our particular worry or concern can get us to forget about others.

We might be this way because we never were really aware of the situation to start with. We may have been aware at one time, but have lost touch, or began to take things for granted.

Too much focus on one thing (except true focus on God) can get us to forget about the people around us, and we might therefore steal from them. An example would be pulling out in front of people in traffic while putting on makeup, swatting flies or using a cell phone. I get to focusing on teaching horsemanship, and tend to forget to provide chairs, or drinks for people, so my wife April picks up the slack making sure she is sensitive to their needs, pointing them to the restroom, etc.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

We can see how we can never say we have these commandments covered! Not only do we not want to steal, we need to do the opposite and “respect” others by learning how to serve them better.

We have all heard of people “born with a silver spoon in their mouth,” or “living in an ivory tower, oblivious to the real world.” The famous quote “let them eat cake” from Marie Antoinette (records say she was wrongly accused here) communicate a sense of never being aware of the situation.

I feel that the ultimate motivation for us to develop respect for our creator God rests on being impressed by his willingness to come down and live, suffer and die in a human body. I like to tell people it is as though Donald Trump flew over from New York, put on some jeans and shoveled manure beside me. If I would be impressed with that, it impresses me much more that the biggest big shot there is did incredibly more than that.

None of us are impressed with bosses who can talk but will not do. I interpret the Missouri “Show Me” slogan as communicating how much we value walk over talk. When we focus on a creator God who felt our mud, blood, sweat, and tears by taking on a body, possibly more frail than ours (Isaiah 53), we cannot possibly say he has not walked in our shoes, or cannot understand us.

This brings us to by far the most important part of horsemanship. We need to learn how to take on a horse’s body and become a horse. Good horsemanship is good seat and good hands. Good hands will be covered in my column regarding the ninth commandment (do not lie). Good seat belongs here in the Jesus Christ — do not steal — respect commandment.

When we develop a good seat, we learn to move just like a horse. Many riders can ride for years, but never really develop a good seat. This is where God gives us all the same opportunity to improve, rich or poor.

There is a pretty good similarity to church life here. We can read, watch and memorize all we want from horsemanship or the Bible, through books, computers or television, but there is no substitute for sweating (mind and body) beside or on a horse for developing that good seat. Just as true spirituality is not measured by how much of a lone ranger we become, but instead how good a team player we strive to be. With horses it is the horse-human team, but we can see the comparison to all other walks of life here also.

Another test of spirituality would be how humbly we accepted and applied instruction on how to become more aware of those four legs we endeavor to team our body up with. From the horses back, learning to post military style to the correct diagonal, helps the horse-rider team immensely. The rider cannot be an armchair boss. In imitation of the servant nature of Jesus Christ, we must work to limber our waist to be a better belly dancer on our horse’s back.

Remember, one of the hallmarks of the Christian faith is to not blame the “heathen” around or below us for our rough ride in life. But instead, sweat with mind and body to become a better athlete to our mount, so we will feel good to the horse below us. A good rider will give and get a “smoother” ride to and from any horse.

Although much of our time in sharpening one another is to remind each other to work on ourselves, we must also teach horses to respect us. A good dance team maneuvers together in every possible way. The horse must wait, or move with the human and vice-versa. We teach a horse to mirror or imitate our body movement on the ground, and then in the saddle. I use a four-foot long, 3/8-inch thick Fiberglas stick with a string (American Indians had a bow this length that they used in the same way) to motivate a horse to stay focused on me, If the horse does not stop when I do, they run into the stick. Clear body language helps warn the horse first, but the rhythmic stick is there to enforce any direction we need to go. This helps us rely on the reins less and less, “respecting” body language more and more. I like to remind everyone that the stick simulates the stallion in the wild horse herd.

The biggest challenge of the respect-no steal scenario might very well be not taking things for granted, or becoming dull with time. We hear examples all the time of people who started well, but did not finish well. The Bible is full of examples of this (God tells it like it is). If we are honest with ourselves, we can feel it happening to us as well. There just seems to be a natural tendency for us to want to climb up in our own ivory tower, or crawl off the “living sacrifice” (Romans 12) altar. We tend to blame growing older for our natural laziness, and it therefore becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I always admire older people who do everything they can to stay sharp and fit in mind and body. It seems that friends can get together to justify dulling their senses, and make excuses to sit on the bench. But it makes sense that true friends get together to find ways to let God sharpen one another, so they can be more effective in the battle to inject new life into a decaying world.

Thank God he made us all the same in an important way, rich or poor, young or old, we thrive more when we serve, rather than being served. The father of our country, George Washington, was a great example of a living sacrifice. This man sweated beside his slaves (freeing them later, providing schooling for the young, pensions for the old in opposition to advice from others), and shared common hardships with his fellow soldiers. He was an extraordinary “Show Me” example in taking great personal risk for public good. He was an excellent horseman who prayed continually, respecting the Bible, Christ and the church. He gave God credit for every success pointing to the polar opposite of stealing: “respect.”

Mike Daniels is a horsemanship trainer and barefoot hoof-trimming specialist from Raymondville. Email: rlhorse58@yahoo.com.

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