Herds

I apologize to those who are following this blog. I have not written for several days because I have been very ill plus I have been preparing the horsemanship on-line study course that started Mon. Jan 9th. And it is that time of year to get rolling on taxes, so I have been doing book work as well, which is not my favorite thing in the world to do. Now that I am finally feeling a little better the taxes are started, and the on-line study group is off to a good start, I am making time for my blog.

I picked up the five gallon bucket from the barn grabbing a halter as I stepped out the door. Every horse head lifted, their ears perked up and forward as they saw me approaching the corral gate. I know they are thinking, “Yahoo, what’s in the bucket? Could it be grain?” As I entered the gate they all crowded around me trying to sniff the bucket contents. When Cisco discovered it was empty he pushed it with his nose. Like he was punishing it for not containing some luscious eatable treat. I ignored him and the rest of the herd as I walked to the center of the pen placed the bucket upside down and sat on it. I placed the halter on the ground between my feet. It was there just for good measure incase I needed the extra support to encourage any kind of movement to protect my space.

I looked back at the faces watching me which expressed curiosity yet disappointment. DJ must not have been convinced the bucket was truly empty. He walked toward me quickly with his head low, staring at the bucket intently as he approached. He didn’t seem to notice there was a human sitting on top of it. His main concern was finding out its content. As he arrived he smelled the bucket, I knew his next move would be to push it over, as he so often does his feed pan. I gently put my hand on his nose and pushed him back a little, asking him to respect my space, before he had a chance to push on me.  He looked at me with surprise then took a new approach. Maybe there is something in her pockets. So I got the smell down even though I haven’t had a treat in my pocket in years. I do not hand feed treats to my horses.  Not finding anything he gave up and stood quietly beside me nuzzling my hat softly with his lips. He always has to be playing with something.

Ginger couldn’t take it any longer she had to come see what DJ and I were up to. She blew her breath in my nostril as I sat still taking in every feeling with all of my senses. I love when a horse blows on me. She was so close I could feel her whiskers tickling my chin. As she touched me I suddenly realized how a horse touches and feels. I concentrated on really feeling her touch. I thought, if it feels that good to me, I want my touch to be just like that, so when I touch her back it will feel just as good to her.  As I went about the activities with my horses for the next three hours every time I touched them, I tried to be cognizant of the way Ginger touched me. Could I touch a horse like I was a horse? I realized how much harder, hurried, and unintentional my touch must feel to them.

As Cisco arrived he made it clear that it was time for DJ and Ginger to leave. He only had to give them a look and they slowly stepped aside without hesitation.  They weren’t in a big hurry to leave, but knew better than to wait too long and find out whether he meant business or not. Cisco stood behind me with his head over my head. So I am basically under his neck, like a chick under the hen’s wing. I think he must have been saying, “This is my girl and I ain’t sharin’ with the rest of you.”  Dozer is the head hauncho so he had to test the waters. Cisco let him come in close enough to touch my pant leg. That seemed to be good enough for Dozer. DJ came back and they sort of let him be on the outskirts of our little conversation. I knew that neither Dolly or Que would try to come over to me while these guys were hanging around. So I picked up my bucket and headed for the pasture gate. Everyone eagerly followed. They knew what was coming next.

After opening the gate, I followed them as they marched single file out the gate in their normal pecking order. They walked at a leisurely pace with my dog Buddy and I behind them until they reached the second gate to the larger pasture then they took off at a gallop.

I love watching them move as one like a flock of birds flying in harmony. They moved in unison like a wave as they turned here and there stomping down the brittle brown grass. It was  a record-breaking warm day for the middle of January. Once they settle down to grazing in the northeast corner of the pasture I found a place to put my bucket down. Another round of observing the herd dynamics. It was the perfect day for this activity since I am still fighting this infection and don’t have enough energy for riding.

As I watched the herd I noticed that there are herds within the herd. They were paired up with their best buddies. It was very distinct who was hanging out with who, even though to a person driving by it might just look like a bunch of horses sort of spread out grazing with contentment. But I could see that each horse had a partner within the herd they chose to be with. And it did not change the whole time I watched.

It is the horse’s natural instinct to form strong bonds with other members in their group.  The herd and its dynamics teach, order, and control the behavior of all of its members from youngest to oldest. Even though the herd order is never static, it creates a safety, peace, and contentment within the members of the herd. There is no doubt about it one of the main purposes of the herd order is protection from predator enemies. There is safety in numbers.  A horse left by himself becomes easy prey.

I have often wondered what makes a horse dominant or submissive? I have noticed that weaker horses are sometimes more submissive, but it is more a state of mind.  Some of my horses are aggressive while others don’t care much about their position.  I think it is also partly what the horse learns as a baby.  The foal of a mare high on the pecking order will see how his mother behaves toward other horses and will probably learn to do the same.

So you are probably wondering how in the heck I am going to relate this to what God is teaching me. I was wondering that myself for a while, because there are many different  ways that I could go with it. Like submission to: authorities, wives to husbands, children to parents, etc. I could talk about quarrels and squabbles in the church which usually boils down to wanting to be at the top of the herd, getting your own way. I could talk about clicks within larger groups which may cause division of the whole. Or on the positive side I could talk about effective small groups within a mega church. There are many parallels between how the dynamics of a horse herd influences each member and how we as humans relate in group situations. And what about the lone Christian who thinks he doesn’t need the body of Christ?

However, I am taking it to a more personal level. God had a herd, named Israel. He (God) was their leader.

PS: 81:10-14 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes.”

God chose to bring Moses into a relationship with Himself so that He (God) could deliver Israel out of bondage with miraculous signs and wonders. Wouldn’t you think they could trust God to do just about anything after all of that? But when they got to the promised land they could not trust Him to deliver the promised land to them. For that reason they spent the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness.

In Psalm 81 God reminded Israel that He would have conquered the enemies quickly, if they had only listened, trusted, and followed His plans rather than their own devices.

As a member of God’s herd of redeemed Christians, I ask myself:

  •  “Am I listening to the lead horse? “
  • “Am I trusting that the herd leader’s will and guidance is best for me?”
  • “Am I wandering away from the protection of the herd into dangerous territory?”
  • “Am I following the herd leader with confidence?”
  • “Am I following my own stubborn heart and devices?”
  • “Am I adjusting my life to the order of the herd?”
  • “Have I submitted my life to the herd leader?”
  • “Am I at peace with my place in the herd?”
  • “Do I believe that the herd leader will subdue my enemies?”
  • ” Do I know the herd leader will never leave me or forsake me?”

I hope you will prayerfully consider this questions, as I have.

Blessings,

Sherry

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4 thoughts on “Herds

  1. Perhaps the presence of the Holy Spirit is like a horse’s kiss–the soft touch and blow of someone who loves us for who we are…

  2. Thank you for leaving a comment, Anne. Yes, that is true a horse does accept us for exactly who we are. Which is also why you have to be authentic with them. No faking it until you make it. They see right through a phony.
    If anyone else reading this post gets something else from the content, feel free to leave your thoughts.
    Another beautiful day here in central NE. I am finally feeling like going outside today to play with horses, and since it is quite fair for Jan 13th. I will head out around noon.

  3. Ann, Was thinking of you today before I saw your reply, because Carol and Tehya just sent in their deposit for June Camp. Are you guys coming again this year?
    Sherry

    • Sherry:

      Yes, we are planning to come. I thought I sent you an email from your website a week or two ago but I might not have gotten it done correctly. How much is the deposit? Let me know and I will get it in the mail to you.

      Anne

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