I like to tell everyone that the reason true horsemen laugh at four-wheelers is because they have a true hovercraft.

Horses have the ability to move any direction, including up and down and sideways, and they also have self-working, “autopilot” capabilities that are nonexistent in their mechanical substitutes. But the four-wheeler is limited to awkward turns, ramps, and terrains that accommodate wheels. Almost 30 years ago, when I owned a horse rental business, I offered a rancher I knew use of my horses for help rounding up cattle. This rancher used four wheel drive pickups and three wheelers for the most part (this is before four wheelers became fashionable). Like many modern day cattlemen, he knew more about partnering with man’s machines than God’s creation. He said he thought he had it covered with his equipment, but I could bring some horses anyway.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

The morning I brought the horses to help him round up cattle, there was about 9 or 10 inches of snow on the ground. There was 12 to 14 inches originally, but some had melted the day before, then refroze, leaving a hard crust on top. My hired hand and I saddled some horses and rode past two three-wheelers and a four wheel drive truck spinning their tires in the snow. Those vehicles would go a little way on top of the crust of snow and then drop through and spin helplessly. Their hired hands would shovel or push to get going on the snow again, then drop through and spin again. We rounded up the cattle and got them into the corral with just us horsemen and some overworked men on foot.

The U.S marine slogan “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” could also be used for horsemanship.

Another story that shows the value of a working horse is as follows. There was another friend of mine that still used horses for working cattle. He told me of a story about a bull that was acting aggressively toward him on his horse. He said that the bull charged them, came up under his horse’s belly and nearly tipped it over.

His horse was able to regroup and get ready for the next charge. This time the horse turned its tail toward the bull and let him have it in the head with both hind feet. The bull then dropped to his knees with his head swaying. My friend said he couldn’t tell whether the bull was drunk, praying or both.

One horse hoof must have connected with the bull’s head pretty good because he wore an imprint of it for a while. He must have come to Jesus in his own way, because from there on out he gave my friend a wide berth.

The biggest excuse for using four-wheelers in this modern world is because in the short run they are hands down easier than horses. Just as computers are now made for dummies, so are today’s wheeled substitutes for four legs.

Although it is wise to choose the path of least resistance when planning an efficient day, we see that it begins to limit our options when we continually treat our minds and bodies this way. True horsemanship can multiply the value of horse and human, magnifying their abilities, whereas machines lose value, and do not help our growing trend toward unhealthy bodies.

So my biggest spiel for using horses when we can is going to be along the lines of keeping our bodies running faster, and jumping higher longer in life. If not for ourselves, we should do it as an inspiration for younger generations. But success with horses demands “prior and proper preparation that prevents p-poor performance,” a quote attributed to renowned horseman Pat Parelli.

I have always tried to communicate clearly the “Jesus Christ aspect” of horsemanship. Healthy bodies and safety demand that horse and human sweat together on issues that both would rather avoid.

In my last column, I communicated that we must specifically work on courage and bravery, or we will lose whatever courage and bravery we have. We love to hear stories of horses rising to the occasion when needed, but we need to help them do it. The alternative is judging them for what happens when “we” do not prepare them right and therefore they fail. I do not like gory movies and stories, much like I do not think God intended humans and animals to be torn up as entertainment. I am convinced that those who get their kicks that way can do it all they want to each other, apart from God in hell (here is one of the reasons I see God must have a hell).

There is some good from gory stories. If we keep in mind what could happen to our horse or ourselves, it should motivate us to do what we know we should do in order to avoid needless tragedies. Again, we need to help our horses rather than judge them. I have always felt that unfair judgment territory is lazy territory. The opposite is sweating territory. Sweating territory is helping territory, and shows true religion far more than anything else.

In an evangelical church, we are asked to share Christ to a dying world. I can easily share Christ when I talk about what truly impresses me about him. I believe that the one and only creator, God himself, did pick a point in time to specifically take on a human body (probably more limiting than mine) to truly feel more blood, sweat, and tears in a way that none of us have ever, or will ever feel. I know that this specific Jesus Christ’s perfect life, sacrifice, death, and resurrection is the only thing that gets me to heaven. I am convinced that it is the only thing that has ever conquered death. But as for here and now, I do not think that the words lazy and Christian can be used in the same sentence.

There are two other words that do not belong together: lazy and horseman. On the positive side for those who are looking forward to it, there will be two words that will fit perfectly together: Jesus and horseman. In the long run, we will all see this picture pointed out in Revelation 19.

Next time, I will go into the specifics of “backing,” then move on to “sideways. These are two of the essentials of maneuverability.

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

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