Mike Rowe, former host of Discovery Network’s “Dirty Jobs,” would say, “work is not your enemy.”

I believe our enemies are not “thinking” about when to start and stop our work, planning our work, how to work, long term consequences, and how we spend our income from our work. When I emphasize to horse lovers that to truly love your horses you have to work them, I can get the same resistance Mike Rowe would and for the same reasons. The reasons we may not work our horses is because we seem to have trouble finding the work balance theme, we specialize too much, and we burden ourselves with non-essentials, forcing ourselves to spend our money foolishly. This makes it harder for us to “have the time” to partner with the horse in valuable work time.
Whether it be life or horsemanship, balance is the key theme in everything we do. “Aholisms” (addictions to anything other than God) seem to run rampant in our luxury-based society, which is only a repeat of the other luxury societies in the 7,000 years or so of this Earth’s existence (yes, I intelligently reject the so-called millions of years garbage).

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

It bothers me that whether we are talking about the horse world, or what we seem to call church, we emphasize focusing on the “Hollywood aspect” rather than the down to earth real life, hoof meets the dirt substance. We seem to think that worship is just singing, praying, listening to preaching, or reading God’s word. True worship is transferring the information from our ears, eyes, and mouth to our brains, and muscles to produce actual substance. Jesus said we would know each other by our actual fruit we produced.  Evangelism can happen so much easier when people see the “authenticity” proved in our work. Yet we know only God’s work gets us to heaven, but our work helps build our character.
With horses, we tend to spend most of our time either feeding them carrots, or focusing on the three minutes or so we have to impress the horse show judge (or seven seconds to rope a critter out of the chute). To add to this imbalance, we think we need a $50,000 truck to pull a $50,000 trailer down the highway endless miles in order to accomplish our horsemanship goals. No wonder we burn ourselves out in church – oops, I mean Horseville.
Another way we burn out from work is specializing too much. We tend to be just trail riders, barrel racers, jumpers, and ropers among other things. Sometimes we think that we must stick with the same thing until the horse “really knows it.” It is far better to stay with something for just enough time to see it improve some, rather than burn the horse out with it. For example, I can touch on nearly all the hovercraft abilities in a single session (hind end turn, front end turn, backing, sideways, and forward). They do not have to get it perfect, just improve some. If I have a nervous, excitable horse, I will try to bore it with more routine and less variety in the beginning, but will do more as the confidence level grows. The point is that their performance does not have to be perfect, only incrementally better than it was, then we move on to something else. Therefore when we start or stop a particular work element is key.
God’s Seventh Commandment – “no adultery” – is the critical self discipline dimension here, and God’s Third Commandment –  “no false gods” – helps us balance work with play, sleep, food, and relationships.
With regard to planning our work, this is probably the most important part of making it fun. This is where I like to think of it as a basketball, or football coach planning strategies to engage their players in well thought out plays that practice sensitivity to surroundings, teamwork, efficiency, and smoothness. When work is thought of much like a football game or a gymnastic routine, it takes on a whole different flair that sharpens and improves minds and bodies rather than souring, and tearing us down like the usual negative attitude toward work can be. With horses, just as in sports, communication and timing is so critical to well thought out plays. This is why I emphasize increasing our horses’ vocabulary in all the different ways possible, including body language, pressure, rhythmic pressure, and combinations thereof. When we keep a horse thinking and transition them through all of our hover craft movements, varying speed, intensity, order, and combinations thereof, we provoke more interesting abundance to their life. Instead of wearing out one part of their body prematurely through boring repetitiveness, we shore up their whole mind and body through relaying different muscles and bones into play. This is the secret to making work fun again.

Be creative and focus on the creator of everything: God. Remember the familiar quote: “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

Next I will expand on this and go into how to work in more detail.

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