Last time I commented on how the partnership aspect of horsemanship could not be duplicated with machines. This is the want-to, self-working part of a team member. It can be fostered by a sense of purpose, coupled with consistent use. Rest in between at the right time can motivate us all to think about, and begin to shape and enjoy our productive time more. This helps that magical volunteer spirit that leaves machines in the dust.

I have heard stories of dairy farmers who could ask their dogs to go get the cows, and they would do it all on their own. We see stock dogs working cattle or sheep with very little assistance from their owners. Dogs seem to be wired to please more than most of God’s creation. Horses can be like us humans, in that if we can just spend our time eating, sleeping or hanging out, besides irregular bursts of energy, we can seemingly get by. But just like us, horses can provide incredible stories selflessness also. Some personalities seem to be more naturally that way, and some seem like they would never be that way. This is where God’s greatest miracles have created changed beings, humans as well as horses. I have heard stories of logging horses that would take logs from the cutting area to the staging area and go back all on their own. Also, horses that could move incredibly straight across a farmer’s field, working all on their own.  To me, these self-working attributes are what I feel are true magic. I feel that responsibility is truly more valuable than most anything else.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

Christ can spark us to become more selfless. When we reflect on the creator God displaying personal sacrifice himself in the person of Jesus Christ, it inspires us to be better self-workers exhibiting true volunteerism.

With horses, they may not be able to comprehend Jesus Christ, but they can understand rest and relationships. These are the main keys to developing a want to attitude in horses. Of course, we are attracted to rest and relationships too. It is just that apart from God, we tend to pervert these things, and not truly benefit from them. Since we get to play the role of God with horses, we are in the position to make sure horses rest at the right time, so we do not let them pervert it. Remember when you try to catch your horse in the pasture, and he decides to run to the other end and rests until you get there, he has twisted a tool that can be used for good (kids can do the same thing). That is why I always advocate rewarding horses with feed or water to motivate them to move into smaller pens before trying to catch them. That way, we are in position to control when they can rest if they choose to try to play catching games with us.

Ecclesiastes 3 in the Bible states that everything has its time. Not to forget that the most important thing in life is to give God credit for this truth as well as many others.

We can begin to see how we might shape a horse to be a self-worker by timing his rest times. We also know that a horse likes to go home. We can drop the reins and let them find their way home in a blizzard. You could have too much to drink, and not worry about getting yourself home, because your horse would take you home all by himself.

A wise logger would make sure to give a horse some rest and possibly a snack when they successfully brought a log from point A to point B.  They would in a sense give them two temporary homes that the animals would look forward to arriving at (the cutting areas, and the staging areas). Picture self-working teams of horses moving across the fields. When the master horsemen made sure to rest the horses when they reached the end of the field, they again gave the horses two temporary homes to aim for out in the work area. They knew that this encouraged magical GPS systems creating self-working horses that needed less and less supervision. This all hinged on how well humans balanced rest with work. Workaholic horse handlers would ultimately burn out their horses, causing them to work slower, and balk, creating a situation to develop that required more supervision, and bitterness on both sides of the equation.

When I was operating a horse rental, I joked about a magical tree that the horses would go around and they would all of the sudden have lots of energy. It really was not the tree, but the fact that they were headed back to the stable. If I had known then what I know now, I would have rested them at that tree so that would have been a second home to them. That way they would have begun to look forward to arriving at their home away from home, rather than trying to turn around or stop and eat grass, among other sinful deeds to try to get out of work.

I know that the same thing that causes a horse to be more responsible and require less supervision, relates to humans. Both “workaholisim” and laziness castrates our minds and bodies. Thank God true honest focus on him in Jesus Christ is the authentic balancing agent that keeps us running true helping us be more effective in the lives around us.

Masters in horsemanship say the test of the real deal is to watch what the horse does when you turn him loose to work on his own.  We can all debate about what true religion is, and sound very convincing in the process. But Jesus said we will be known by our fruit. True fruit is a want to attitude that needs no bridle to be productive, and is attentive to the master’s commands. The master I am talking about is the one who sweated, bled, and died for us. The author of the truly abundant life that exudes volunteerism and does not forget to give credit where credit is due – Jesus Christ.

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