This is an expanded look at the values I have learned from horses and the horse world as first described in the blog post: Why Use Horses?
As prey animals, horses are usually characterized by one of two responses when in a precarious or stressful scenario: fight of flight. Most often, the horse chooses to flee in hopes of being able to outrun whatever frightening situation they just encountered. The problem is that some horses can envision these kinds of situations out of just about anything. Here are just a few examples of things that probably take place in the horse’s mind: The white plastic bag blowing across the arena has got to be a white wolf and he must run from such a terror. Or, the spotted pony must be jaguar, because what horse would actually have spots? Yep, need to run away from that too. And then there are the unknown things that lurk behind bushes. There are probably lions in those, so might as well run away before they can even have a chance to jump out at you. Yes, horses find the most random things to spook at or get excited about, but this is all part of their nature, their make-up. Sometimes, as a rider, I force my horse to go near the object that has just frightened them, or I start a circle and make it bigger and closer to the scary place. Whatever it is, I have to calmly show them that there is nothing to be afraid of – no lion, wolves, or jaguars. Just plastic bags, appaloosa ponies, and leafy bushes. But, they don’t realize that until they can face it. It would also be easy for me to let it slide and just choose not to risk being dumped on the ground in order to show them, but it could escalate into something more dangerous later if I didn’t deal with it immediately.
Some horses are braver than others, as some people seem to be too. Why is this? Why does courage seem to come more easily to some and not to others? How are some people able to withstand pain, disappointment, hardship, and discouragement with grace and dignity?
For me, I know that I am not able to do much of anything without God’s help. Some things, like sharing my faith openly at work, taking on a new task, or even playing an instrument in from of others seems small and insignificant but are often intimidating. However, God promises to be with us through it all and give us the strength and courage we need to face adversity.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9