My husband and I went to watch 12 Strong last night, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the story line, it is based on the true story of the horse soldiers in Afghanistan. The first successful American infiltration and attack in Afghanistan post the 9/11 terrorist attacks was by 12 American special forces military men who teamed up with an Afghan war lord to overtake several small villages that would ultimately seize to deplete the Taliban’s main supply chain and free the villages of the Taliban’s grasp. Unbeknownst to the American special forces team, the war lords fought via horseback, once trust between our team and their war lord was established, the war lord provided our guys with horses to carry them over the rough mountain terrain and ultimately into battle to secure our first successful attack in the War on Terror!
In my opinion the movie was well worth watching and as I watched it play out scene by scene I was continually reminded of my favorite Bible verse Proverbs 21:31 “The horse is prepared for the day of battle but the glory be to God.” Although it was just a movie there are hundreds if not thousands of true stories of trusty, selfless steeds who have carried our men and women bravely into battle. Those men selflessly volunteered for a dangerous mission with minimal odds of survival (much like many stories in the Bible of men and armies defying the odds) and by the grace and protection of God and their steeds, they not only survived but triumphed! As I thought about how their equine partner’s servant heart plays out in today’s arena, I couldn’t help but write a few things down! I hope this serves as a reminder to each and every equestrian, of how incredibly blessed we are to do what we do.
God Bless our Troops, Public Service Men and Women and the Equine and Canine Units that protect and serve as well! <3 Thank you for your service!
A HEAVENLY GIFT
Let me ask you this, is a horse born knowing its destiny? Are they born knowing how to suppress their natural flight instincts and to trust what they don’t know and fear? Are they born knowing they will be dependent upon and at the mercy of the people who raise them?
Being more specific, are own sons and daughters of Topsail Whiz, Gunner or Wimpys Little Step born knowing they are royally bred and expected to become the next generation of elite reiners? Are own sons and daughters of Dash Ta Fame, Firewater Flit or Frenchmans Guy born knowing they are royally bred and expected to become the next generation of elite barrel horses? Are own sons and daughters of First Down Dash, Corona Cartel and Mr Eye Opener born knowing they are royally bred and expected to become the next generation of elite race horses? Are own sons and daughters of Highbrow Hickory, Metallic Cat and Peptoboonsmal born knowing they are royally bred and expected to become the next generation of elite cutting horses?
Are they born with the passion, determination, self-confidence and skill set to become the next world champion in their pre-determined discipline?
I would argue that the answer to every one of these questions is “no”. If horses were born knowing how to suppress their flight instincts and fears, they wouldn’t run away from people and when restrained, squirm and kick at them. If they were born knowing they would become dependent upon people for their needs, they wouldn’t try to run away if given the chance. If reiners were born knowing they were bred to be reiners they would begin practicing their spins and sliding stops the minute they stood up, likewise barrel horses would practice their rate and turns, race horses their clean breaks and long strides, and cutters their cowiness and quick, concise movements.
Responsible breeders have selectively bred horses through many generations to portray physical and some mental traits that equip a horse to do its predetermined discipline better. However, it goes without saying that there isn’t a breeder in the world that can produce a foal that is a guaranteed champion. What then is the missing link? Why can a prospect who is bred to the hilt for its discipline, completely flop? Obviously, humans and divine intervention are the missing link, since divine intervention is out of our control, lets focus on humans; owners, care-takers and trainers.
Isn’t it incredible that God has created a creature that out-weighs us ten-fold and is born with the natural instinct, power and stamina to flee or fight whatever it fears and yet we are so very blessed to be able to suppress those fears and form a bond and a relationship with them? Furthermore, we are able to enhance that bond to instill trust and confidence which further develops into a desire, a passion and a work ethic to be the greatest at whatever discipline they do! They have no concept of winning or losing, they measure their success based solely on their human’s happiness and rewards. They learn to want to be the best because they were given a servants heart and the one they serve wants to be the best so therefore they develop try! It is truly an astonishing realization that there isn’t a horse or trainer/competitor alive that would be where they are today without the other. It’s a partnership unlike any other that should be nurtured and respected, one that is as rewarding and fulfilling to both halves. One that is impossible to deny or even describe, when each partner gives it everything they’ve got. I think it is safe to say that the bond that is shared takes time to develop and the responsibility lay in our hands to initiate and cultivate that bond.
It’s a pretty obvious concept, especially amongst the horse industry but one that is all to easily and frequently overlooked with the hustle and bustle of modern everyday life. Horses used to be a necessity to our way of life and are now a privilege, but regardless of their role, they have always been a blessing and will remain so until the end of time and we would do good to remember this. Always remember every horse you train or care for is unique and you are solely responsible for writing chapters in its book of life. Sometimes keys to unlocking success in the next chapter can be found in reviewing their past chapters, other times they’re a blank canvas and the bond, perseverance and passion you share is enough to fill the pages of numerous chapters. Sometimes it’s our job to write the introduction and then pass it on to someone else, other times we serve to write chapters somewhere in the middle and every now and then we get to write a complete book. However long you are charged with the responsibility of writing their story or of them writing yours is virtually irrelevant as time is a gift and no one truly knows when their clock will run out or their path will change. What truly matters is how rich the content on the page becomes, so do yourselves and your horses a favor work hard, be diligent and honest because you never know when you will write your next “best seller”!