Horse training and Christian witness- Teaching what you don’t know

I don’t care who they are, no one knows what they don’t know. Yet many people choose to teach or preach what they do know before realizing the extent of what they don’t. Three topics that are guaranteed to get folks’ blood boiling are politics, religion, and horses. There are plenty of teachers and preachers in all three that present absolute truths to their followers, but don’t know (or care) that their knowledge is NOT exhaustive.

Anyone can say they are a horse trainer

Got a horse? You can be a horse trainer in the next ten minutes. All you have to do is order $10 business cards and start looking for customers.

One newbie to horses decided he wanted to keep his horses unshod and began to rail against all the pros who (he says) preach that horses must be shod. In his informed opinion, with barely two years of experience and just a couple of horses, he has become what he railed against – someone who teaches what they know and includes the admonition than anyone who disagrees with him is wrong!

There hasn’t been a shoe on one of my horses for years and four of them have never been shod. That does not mean that putting a shoe on a horse is abuse, though some would have you believe it. Like most everything else in life, one must learn discernment to know whether to nail a shoe on a horse or pull the ones already there.

His next project was making horse training videos for the marketplace. Oh, dear. Even though he didn’t know what he didn’t know, he quickly became an influential voice because of celebrity in another field.  I know from experience that as the years pass his early opinions will modify as horses teach him more about what it means to be a horse.

There may even be a few people from my early training days who would marvel that anyone would read anything I write about horses.

Successful horse training careers begin at the beginning

My very first customer had a horse he couldn’t catch. I told him I would take care of the problem and if he wasn’t happy in 30 days he didn’t have to pay me. Part of the deal included me picking up the horse because, of course, the owner couldn’t catch him. My first paying student wasn’t hard to identify in the large pasture with several other horses. He was the one with the halter and broken lead rope. The horse did not learn to be caught; he learned to come when he was called. I got paid.

It took a while before that first World Championship trophy came home. Like everyone else I started at the beginning and expanded what I taught horses as I learned more about HOW to teach horses as well as WHAT to teach them. No one will ever master all there is to know about horses. Anyone who suggests that they have already achieved that mark, or that such a thing is even possible, is probably not the best choice for a mentor.

When the students of two competing dressage trainers based out of my facility began accusing the others of horse abuse I delivered my “Horse Religion Speech” for the first time. (You can find it in Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace.)

The problem was a difference in training styles. There is an endless number of ways to teach horses any one maneuver. Because the other trainer used a different method it was deemed abusive instead of just another acceptable option. This judgment was due to ignorance because the students didn’t know what they didn’t know.

Anyone with $35 and an iPhone can become a licensed preacher

You too can become an ordained minister in the next ten minutes. I found a number of websites where all you have to do is check a few boxes and choose a payment method; your ‘certificate suitable for framing’ will wing its way to your home. Horse trainers and preachers to the public don’t have to meet any particular benchmark of worthiness.

The site that asks you to agree that you are a Christian before mailing your license charges $99.00. They obviously have higher standards…

Get ordained today!

Get ordained today!

The method for identifying a worthy horse trainer is quite similar to picking which Christian messages to consider. Worthy horse trainers can demonstrate their ability working with a horse. Christians should live as true examples of what they preach and teach.

Horses that are anxious, angry, or aggressive are NOT in right relationship with their trainers. Unless your trainer can take a problem horse and bring it back to being calm and focused, look for a different trainer.

Christian leaders who display anxious, angry, or aggressive behaviors are NOT in right relationship with Jesus Christ. Whether this is a temporary situation or an indication of counterfeit faith, don’t sit at their feet until the problem resolves.

Who knows the mind of God?

No one knows the extent of the mind of God or His plan. No one knows the entirety of what the Bible can teach when revealed by the Holy Spirit. But, how many preachers or teachers tell you what they know and say everyone else is wrong?  There are absolute truths about horses and relationship with Jesus Christ. There are also many, many areas that are reasonably disputable. Paul cautions us not to get hung up on what isn’t foundational [Romans 14]. The essence of the Horse Religion Speech is to stick with the folks who believe as you do and give everyone else religious freedom.

None of us know what we don’t know. But just knowing that much is a huge step in the right direction whether you train horses or carry a message for the Lord. I believe you can spot great horse trainers and worthy preachers “by the love” they have for their audiences.

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Comments

  1. Dan Cooksey:

    I had to chuckle when I read this post. You perfectly described me as both a young Christian (at age 39) and a new horseback rider (at age 50). Now at age 67 I have to chuckle. One of the reasons I love having a horse is there is so much I still don’t know. I don’t think it would be as enjoyable if I thought I had mastered horse riding/training. Same is true for my growth in Christ. Joy comes from the journey, the striving, the learning, the falling and getting back up.

    Here’s to the prospect of learning something new today and tomorrow.

    Dan

    • Lynn:

      Glad I could generate a chuckle, Dan. Looking back at our earlier “triumphs” brings either laughter or embarrassment. I prefer laughter. One particularly accurate gauge of how much we know about any given topic is recognizing with increasing astonishment how much more remains to the mystery.
      Blessings, Lynn

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