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The ‘goody two shoes’ 10 commandments

The 10 commandments of God are indeed an extremely deep, rich well from which to drink.
Truly valuing them will help us roll up our sleeves and voluntarily work eagerly to get more dependent on God and each other, rather than sit back and pat ourselves on the back for how great we think we are doing compared to others.

It is tragic how quickly we can gloss over these 10 commandments and check them off like the rich young ruler in scripture, thinking how good we are at obeying them. We might say:
I – Yeah, I believe in one god (the one I made up in my mind).
II – Haven’t bowed to any graven images today (too much effort, I just look).
III – Haven’t cussed God much (but if I can’t blame others, he’ll do in a pinch).
IV – Sure, I believe in taking a long break on Sunday, just like I do everyday.
V – I mailed a card to mother last month.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

VI – Haven’t murdered anyone (but I might have de-friended a busload of chumps).
VII – Haven’t sowed any wild oats lately (but my memory is short).
VIII – Haven’t stolen anything for a few days (enough hotel towels for now).
IX – Don’t lie much (unless I have to  to get what I want).
X – Surely I don’t covet like Bo Diddly down the road does.
So let us just put a halo over our head and break our arm patting ourselves on the back, right?

If there is any remote chance that we profess to be Godly people, we need to be far harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. One thing that should wake us up about these commandments is that we really enjoy seeing these words of life trampled on big time. We love seeing people kill, cheat on, steal from, lie to and covet each others’ things nearly every time we turn on our “graven image,” whether it be a computer screen, or a “couch potato box.”

How would we get entertainment if there were no more murders in the world? Gee, I don’t know if’n I want to go to heaven if it is going to be that boring. I mean, isn’t the most exciting part of life consist of watching others run faster and jump higher while they are poking each other full of holes with guns and knives? Of course the next best thing is sitting around watching others run faster and jump higher in their numbered underwear (ya’ know, fancy pants) while they are young so they can aspire to get paid beaucoup bucks for it as a career, then fall off the band wagon when they get old (age 29) and wish they were young again. Yeah, but us Bible-thumpers think a good song or sermon is the answer. If we can spout off scripture forward, backward and upside down, then surely we are the bee’s knees.
Meanwhile in a land far, far away, down in a coal mine there is a horseman (well grounded) sweating with a pickaxe in his hand:
I – “Focusing intently” on the job at hand well aware that The Creator God is at his side helping him grow in every good way.
II – After work he rides horses, climbs trees, plays ball or creatively designs something with his wife and kids to achieve more “balance” in life.
III – “He points to God with the work of his hands in deed and words.”
IV – He takes a break, scratches his head and asks God whether he needs to bear down, back off or change what he is doing regularly, based on a set apart day to “reflect and sharpen.”
V – In honoring his parents, he is very attentive about listening to, and seeking out “advice” from all, and tries not to get defensive (welcoming truth).
VI – With an unselfish “attitude,” he tries to organize and plan with others in mind so it will be easier to succeed and harder to fail in working with “others” (opposite of murder).
VII –  He knows we all have trouble with self control and responsibility (adultery realm), so he asks God to help him build in “checks and balances” in his life. He asks for help in this area from friends, neighbors and family members as well.
VIII – He knows that the best way to please God and care about others is to spend time with them in the mud, blood, sweat and tears of life, and that the best answer to prayer is the one that includes him but points to “Jesus Christ” as the source of all he can do (opposite of stealing).
IX – He knows that time is a gift from God and not to be wasted, and since he senses he does not always “communicate clearly,” he strives continually to shed more light, open more doors and be more transparent so deception can flee like the cockroach that it is (the opposite of lying).
X – He recognizes why God limits his resources. It grows his character, and helps him run faster and jump higher in the things that count without poking holes in others (disclaimer for surgeons).
Therefore he “makes do,” and uses God’s free truths to develop skill  rather than covet. This horseman is the true “James Bond” by a long shot!  Proverbs 22:29, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.”

Dear Lord, help me to gag and throw up at the normal way I look at the 10 commandments. Help us all be that coal miner (horseman) who searches the 10 commandments realistically so we can run faster and jump higher in real life in the things that matter. Help us recognize “you” by the evidence we see more than the words we hear. Father (designer), Jesus (builder), Holy Spirit (janitor).

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

Sometimes we feel that freedom is more important than obedience as though we can separate the two. But in fact, true obedience enables freedom to thrive. In wild horse herds, stallions learn to obey their elders throughout the social order long before they become leaders on their own. It provides a consistent structure that allows teamwork to happen.

I feel that in this time we live in, obedience is looked down on like it is a weak-willed, weak-minded thing. This attitude seems to prevail in the horse world as well as society in general. But if we look at it intelligently, obedience shows true strength, sacrifice, teamwork, and thoughtfulness more than anything else.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

The heart of the 10 Commandments (observe Sabbath, obey parents, no murder, no adultery) asks us to let God help us be true living sacrifices. Sacrifices that give us the strength for self-control, ability to listen to experience, turn the other cheek, and beat back temptations that wreak havoc on relationships. I am convinced that just as a person can read, know, and memorize the entire Bible from cover to cover, this alone does not mean they will obey God and each other. I see the same thing with horses, in that we can take in all kinds of information through books, DVDs, speakers, and clinics, and learn to talk horse talk real well. But if in the trenches, the blood, sweat, and tears Jesus Christ stuff is not there, then we are substituting fluff for stuff. True obedience is the sacrifice that ultimately helps us help everyone who respects the Creator. It helps us become doers rather than talkers, and exemplifies the show-me slogan that Missouri claims as its own. I think all of us are becoming less and less impressed by words and long for more shoulder rubbing, teamwork that indeed is the product of obedience. When I talk or debate with someone, and we are already talking longer than we should, I think why not enter the real show me world now so we can truly show each other what we really know and get some mutual sharpening done?

I feel we can substitute what we could be doing – obedience – for soap operas, conspiracy theories, and paralysis of analysis. In other words, a lot of hot air, and not much umph. Like an old mentor Jimmy Allen once said “we can get to be an alligator mouth with a humming bird tail.” Obedience helps us conquer the worst substance abuse, which is the lack of substance.

Obedience in horsemanship creates extremely valuable horses and riders. It also cuts accidents dramatically. This frees the human horse dance team to soar, appreciating and gaining trust from each other the more they make the harder choices together. We normally think of the obedience of horse to rider, which indeed is very important, and I will go into those details in the next column. I will also explain in more detail the obedience factors that the rider must adhere to also to make it easier for the horse to respond in like fashion. Anyone who knows the Bible can tell that this has Jesus Christ written all over it. The hallmark of the Christian faith is the example of God’s obedience to his promise to us by suffering and dying on a cross. There is no other record of such an act of caring, selflessness, or foretelling of anywhere. Any other faith emphasizes obedience from the bottom up, not top down. They also base their salvation on what they do, whereas Christianity bases salvation only on what Christ did. If we are atheistic or agnostic in nature, then we might have an obligation to obey ourselves, because we are in a sense our own god. But it takes quite a bit more backbone to obey a promise to others that costs in blood, sweat and tears.

The foretelling part makes it the opposite of an accident. True obedience shows we actually care about the dance team (horse or human) and just like God showed us through Jesus Christ, it truly happens from the top down.

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

For quite a long time now, many cattle operations have replaced horses with machinery for many reasons concerning convenience and efficiency. But emphasis today on animals doing more and us doing less – along with various health issues – more and more makes horse sense a reality again.

I heard renowned horsemanship trainer Ray Hunt make the statement about 30 years ago, “our horses are kind of living in a phony world now a days.”

I figure there are two reasons why our horses wouldn’t be living in a phony world: They are either helping us with our work, or helping us stay or get in shape. The small herd size of the average cattle owner, along with the growing popularity of cell grazing and electric fence, points the direction to less machinery and a better bottom line.

I heard a definition of excellence in animal husbandry as “set up your operation so that the animals do more and you do less and everyone will be happier for it.” In our mechanized age, we have been trying to tweak more production off the land by having machinery graze the land and distribute nutrients back on the land via manure and fertilizer spreaders.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

But the cost of machinery and fertilizer has made many ranchers rethink whether it is worth the effort. Those of us who love machinery and do not mind spending time underneath them can bow down to these graven images with their consistent need for maintenance (and break downs) while they drop grease, dirt and mud on us. But I prefer to pass on that style of worship, as well as spend less time sitting in a noisy chair that blows smoke in my face on wheels going over uneven ground.

The modern world of cell grazing is actually more horse-friendly than people might realize. We can put up high-tension wire and poly lines on horseback without much trouble. Barbed wire was nearly impossible unless we just use the horse with saddlebags to put clips on t-posts. Since the spool of wire stays on the ground in a spinning jenny, a horseman can just take one end of the wire and go. Poly line is light and can be rolled out and up again on an extension cord reel, which is very easily handled horseback. Water tanks, mineral, step in posts and poly reels can be skidded with poly feed tubs attached to a rope dallied on the saddle horn.

Wise use of pasture can cut hay use down to two round bales or less per cow/calf unit per year (four acres per cow/calf yearly average). Round bales can be set up behind poly lines on slopes ready to roll down at an angle. Weather permitting, bales can be unrolled in different pastures ahead of time. This allows more efficient use of fossil fuel, and more frequent use of hay burners to move themselves and each other. A young responsible rancher planning ahead can work out a deal with neighbors using borrowed or rented machinery cheaper than can be owned when it is not needed as often.

This is really the difference between moving or opening poly lines horseback and how often we have to fire up our machinery, whether we are grazing or feeding hay. We know that how well we unroll hay or graze can distribute this organic fertilizer/manure better. There are unlimited ways of setting up poly lines to compliment high tension wire and being creative about making it convenient to put up and take down.

Good horsemen can put up and take down poly lines hands-free in guiding our mount, since good horses have acquired cruise control, auto-pilot, obstacle sensing and negotiation capabilities. Step-in posts can be put in more efficiently with a horse than a four-wheeler because the horse stays with us, whereas we need to keep going back to our machine when we are using it instead. Since cell grazing moves cows to fresh grass more often, cows are easier to move, and there are less health issues. Smaller herds contribute to this as well.

The average age of the modern cattle rancher is well over 60 years. If the young cattle rancher is going to have a chance, they will find ways to keep most of their money in cattle, not equipment. If they can impress neighboring landowners with distributing their grazing, hay unrolling and therefore manure more evenly and efficiently through use of high tensile electric and poly line, the most important battle will be won. Landowners will be more willing to lease to a good grass manager.

In regards to human health, the horse allows us to keep our waist and back, and all of our joints and muscles in balanced motion much like an athlete. Riding a machine is not much different than sitting in a glorified office chair.

In the modern age of multitasking, how about telling the bank to keep their money, and OPEC to keep their oil, then giving the doctors and drug companies more vacation time (like the Maytag repair man) all at the same time?

There is much freedom in cutting our dependencies. The Bible says in the book of Proverbs, that the “borrower is slave to the lender.”

Remember in God’s 10 commandments, the second commandment is about no false gods, i.e. “balance.” Like a good budget, money is like manure: it does not do much good unless it is spread around. Get your horse in on it, too. They can fertilize while they help us breathe fresh air and stay healthier longer.

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

This column titled Horse Sense has been going through God’s 10 Commandments in horsemanship language every couple of weeks for the past five months.

We were able to compare our quest to improve harmony between human and horse, to real life situations. I communicated that I had found these comparisons through the back door, so to speak (the servants’ entrance). In this installment, I will do a simple summary on the 10 Commandments, showing application in horsemanship and real life. I will offer to the reader which commandment I feel is the most important and why.

In the future, Horse Sense will focus on topics relating to horsemanship, always trying to acknowledge the 10 Commandments and the original author while staying down to earth in a Jesus Christ type of way.

I obtained the 10 Commandments in nature from Pat Parelli, who decided to spell out what it would take to be really good with horses. Through much information and analysis, he narrowed it down to 10 basic dimensions or qualities. He reasoned that these qualities cross over to all other endeavors, and admits he was not looking at the Bible when brainstorming. The only thing he was focusing on was excellent horse/human relations.

It is remarkable how we can find these 10 Commandments by studying God’s creation. But we should not be surprised; Romans 1:20 tells us, “for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

The first three Commandments get the brain thinking and giving credit, rather than reacting and being paranoid. The game “Simon says” is a good way to illustrate this. In Commandment I, this game helps us to focus on the leader (only one God), No. 2 helps us balance the “nothings” by ignoring false signals (no false gods), and No. 3 helps us move on an authentic call (no misuse of God’s name).

The next three Commandments “reflect” on the thinking process and determine how it could be made better, trying to detect any flaws, prejudices, blind spots, or hypocrisies. I feel the church should be able to do this better than anyone when humility is in place. Commandment IV has us ask, is the observe-remember-and-compare process in place (observe Sabbath)? No. V has us ask, am I tapping into others’ personal experiences (honor father and mother) so I might live longer?  And No. VI brings up the question as humility drives the prior two, are we keeping the “good teacher” attitude at the forefront so as to avoid frustration, panic, or anger that leads to brokenness (no murder)?

The next four Commandments show the most important skills we need to be valuable to the people around us, and of most use to ourselves and the world. No. VII deals with responsibility (no adultery). No. VIII covers respect and sensitivity to the needs of others (no stealing). No. IX is about crystal clear communication (no lies). And No. X deals with flexibility (no coveting).

I feel the third commandment is the most important, because this is the one that gives credit to the true author. It also cuts all the frills and gets right down to the meat (movement, action). We live in a world where we are easily deceived, and therefore the most important thing we can do is be detectives for true authenticity and be willing to be open to it with the intensity of a gazelle. The directive to not misuse God’s name challenges us to find our creator’s truths and put his name on them specifically so we can praise God in living color, rather than in a fuzzy, gray way. Remember that the Third Commandment in horsemanship looks at the three ways we move a horse, pressure, rhythmic pressure, and the two combined. Just like plumb, level, square in carpentry, God gets the credit because no human can “own” these basics.

This theme also has us acknowledge others whom God has used to communicate his truths to us.

The Bible communicates to us that one of the worst sins is pride, and one way of interpreting this is to say we would rather have the credit rather than give it to God, or our fellow brothers, and sisters. Remember, when we misuse God’s name, we steal his lumber and put our name on it. We do the same thing when we take credit when we need to attribute it to someone else. We know that the opposite of pride is humility, and it stands to reason that humility not only grows us better down here, but also determines true religion. The clear gospel in true humility gives 100-percent credit to Jesus Christ for our only payment for eternal salvation. I would challenge anyone to find a more humble stance than that. Pride is by far the biggest reason we would not accept this hat-in-our-hand approach to the one who did it all.

We should all recognize that we can learn from anyone, knowing that we all have a tendency to think we are better than we are by seeing hypocrisy in others before we see it in ourselves. By far the biggest obstacle to growth in horsemanship as well as real life is this (besides justifying laziness). So lets not misuse God’s name by being ashamed to give God credit where credit is due as well as people he works through to build our eternal character!

This quote by Ray Kroc (founder of McDonald’s) is always worth repeating: “If we are green we are growing, if we are ripe we are rotting.”

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

Does your vision of the 10 Commandments restrict your creativity and skill, or does it boost it?

I first came across the 10 commandments observed in nature from the 10 qualities of a horseman by renowned horsemanship expert and author Pat Perelli.

Here is a quick comparison:

The 10 commandments

1. Only one God

2. No false gods

3. No misuse of God’s name

4. Observe the Sabbath

5. Honor father and mother

6. No murder

7. No adultery

8. No steal

9. No lie

10. No covet

10 horsemanship qualities

1. Focus

2. Balance

3. Truth (savvy)

4. Feel

5. Experience

6. Attitude

7. Impulsion

8. Respect

9. Timing

10. Flexibility

When I first saw Perelli’s list of 10 absolutes, I thought it made sense to compare it to God’s list of 10 in stone. Since my favorite Bible verse is John 10:10 (“the thief comes to kill and destroy, but I have come so that they might have life and have it to the fullest”), I observed a more detailed positive real life application.

I will attempt to give a picture of each of these 10 comparisons separately in an ongoing series of columns.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

The First commandment: only one god.

The only thing we can focus on continually without causing a problem is God. In the same way, a horse must stay focused on their human in order to stay out of trouble.

I like to tell everyone that we get to play the role of God to our horse, so that we know what God feels like when dealing with us.

Usually all problems stem from a horse forgetting about us. They drag us off, run over the top of us, etc., because they have lost their connection with us. Us focusing on God, or our horses focusing on us, keeps the shades from being pulled over that “first priority window,” while we engage our minds on other things. This always keeps the big picture in view, so we don’t sour ourselves and others with a seemingly one track mind.

We know that focus is the No. 1 thing that gets us good at anything. Focus helps us forget about our ego, separate non-essentials, and concentrate on exactly what is needed at a given time. We know it is critical in isolating areas to improve, or problems to solve.

But focus without the big picture can hurt us because we become insensitive, and therefore unresponsive to the “real world” around us. We might become satisfied just specializing on a component, but forget the reason we isolated it to start with.

The test of the purity of effort is to see how it helps the big picture!

Humans and horses that have their focuses always open to the real architect are much more useful than the ones who shut the curtains on the real window to our creator God.

Specifically in horses we will apply the first commandment by getting the horse to laterally flex, which I define as “praying” with the horse. We do this by engaging pressure (no rhythmic movement), letting them find relief, and then stroking them when they are in the desired position, further encouraging the correct response as pressure is let off when they are right.

With the prayer, we first acknowledge who is in control. We then strive for a willing, teachable attitude, and finally practice the ability to wait. True prayer also encompasses a clear-thinking mind, so that God may be able to work through us as one of the methods He answers prayer.

We apply this to horsemanship by alternating pressure and the stroking movement as we laterally flex, to ask them to move and don’t move. This stimulates a “Simon says” type of game that sharpens their focus on us.

To summarize, the first commandment helps us truly pray, focusing on our creator, fostering a teachable attitude, building patience and a clear, sharp-thinking mind.

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