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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.