Horsemanship Clinic Junkies and Discipleship – Failure to Change Equals Failure

There are a whole bunch of churches and ministries dedicated to evangelism; spreading the Word in order to bring the lost to Christ. There are a whole bunch of horse folks and groups committed to sharing their passion for horses with newcomers.

Committed relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life and you can’t have a relationship with a horse without having a horse – but what comes next?

Active discipleship is missing from many people’s pursuit of relationship with Christ and with their horse.

“Is this all there is?”

Repetitive lessons – Redundant messages

Imagine you finally get the horse you dreamed about for decades. You commit to work hard pursuing a strong and meaningful relationship with your new horse. You find an instructor who seems to know a lot and really understands and loves horses. You schedule weekly lessons and get to work.

Lesson One –

You learn all the basics of caring for your horse. Then you start the fun stuff, learning to mount up, walk off, and to turn right, left, and stop. Wow! You are in. This is exciting. Emotion and motivation flows like the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral.

Lesson Two –

You’re pumped up and ready to rock and roll again. Your instructor reviews the basics of caring for your horse. You are pleased to hear it again because you’d forgotten that part about picking hooves daily. The session continues by learning to mount up, walk off, turning to the right and left, and stopping. You did everything just a tad better than you did in Lesson One.

Lesson Three –

Back to the instructor for another lesson. The instructor reviews all the basics of caring for your horse. You feel comfortable because you know the list by heart – even the hoof picking part. The lesson continues by mounting up, walking off, turning right and left and stopping. No challenge here, you and your horse have the basics down pretty well.

Lessons Four, Five, Six, Seven, and Eight –

You review the basics about caring for your horse. You mount up, walk off, turn right and left then stop. It’s all a bit repetitive and starting to get just the slightest bit boring. Another lesson or two and you could teach the lesson.

Lesson Nine and Ten –

Been there. Done that. What are the odds there will be a Lesson 11?

How many times will you go back for a lesson in the same thing before you demand more or quit? Your dream of sharing life with a horse isn’t all that life changing. You can take care of it, mount up, and walk around. Maybe the promise was a little over stated.

Suppose you take lessons from another instructor, then another. Every one uses a bit different vocabulary and tack set-up, but each one teaches the same thing: Pick feet, mount up, walk off, turn right and left – stop.

Why doesn’t anything change?

We all know there is far more to relationship with a horse than picking feet, mounting, and walking around. Stopping is a good skill to have, but it’s hardly the end of the story. 

NO ONE has mastered all there is to know, do, and be in relationship with a horse. But none of your local experts seem to have anything more to offer than selling you a horse and teaching you exactly what you learned in your first lesson.

Nothing changes. Lesson after lesson, week after week nothing changes. If there is anything different it’s your level of interest. Weekly lessons have become boring, repetitive and redundant. Your horse is the same today as it was three months ago when you began lessons.

Pitfalls of Horsemanship Clinic Junkies

Most of us know serial horsemanship clinic participants. They’ve met all the big clinicians and have the tack and DVD’s to prove it. Recently I audited a clinic with a TV clinician who good-naturedly noted that one rider had protective boots with one trainer’s logo, a saddle pad advertising another, the saddle from another, and the bridle from yet another clinician.

The rider had invested many thousands of dollars getting the right set-up and attending clinics. Yet the relationship between horse and rider was little different from how it has likely been since the first week they met. The horse didn’t transition well, couldn’t ride in a straight line, and popped its head or other body part this way or that trying to escape rein, leg, or crop pressure.

All the time and money invested did not result in positive change for this horse and rider pair. Sadly, at least a couple of clinic participants went home with lighter pockets and horses with bigger troubles than when they arrived.

This is a fairly normal result. I used to lease part of my training facility to some big name clinicians. Trainers, instructors, teachers, and preachers are nothing more than tools or messengers. Whether or not positive change takes place with a rider or Christian depends entirely on the rider or Christian.

Unless the clinician or preacher has a PERSONAL stake in your success creating change is 100% up to you. Proof of success today is waking up tomorrow to live a life that is somehow different. Your horse should notice the change and so should the Holy Spirit.

Failure of Discipleship

Evangelists often say they “lead” people to Christ. In truth, leading someone to Christ is like leading a horse to water. You can lead him to water, but unless the desire for water is present he isn’t going to stick his muzzle in the trough and suck it in. There must be a thirst before there is an urge to satisfy it.

Church Meeting Week One –

You discover the excitement of finding the Savior of the world and recognizing that you need Him. You learn the 10 Commandments and John 3:16. The Bible is introduced and the message delivered, “Jesus saves. He loves you.” This is the new beginning you dreamed of. You have arrived on the path.

Church Meeting Week Two –

The preacher is excited about introducing everyone to the Savior of the world and showing how much they need Him. You learn the 10 Commandments and John 3:16. You’re glad for the review because you forgot the ones about false witness and coveting. The Good News is heralded again, “Jesus saves. He loves you.”

Church Meeting Week Three –

You meet the Savior of the world again. The 10 Commandments are sounding pretty familiar and you can recite John 3:16 from memory. The preacher is still excited, especially because two new folks were led to Christ last week. They seem excited to hear that “Jesus saves and He loves you.” You remember how excited you were – the first time.

Church Meeting Week Four –

The preacher is excited. You tell him after the service that you are interested in more. You know the 10 Commandments and John 3:16. You are ready to move up. The preacher is delighted! He gives you a devotional book to read. “Jesus saves and He loves you.” Let’s begin our study in the 3rd chapter of John…

Church Meetings Five, Six, Seven, and Eight –

We all know there is far more to relationship with Christ than the 10 Commandments and John 3:16. NO ONE has mastered all there is to know, do, and be in relationship with the King of Kings.

Nothing changes. Meeting after meeting, week after week nothing changes. If there is anything different it’s your level of interest. Weekly lessons have become boring, repetitive and redundant. You are the same today as you were three months ago when you began attending services.

Failure to Change is the definition of Failure

If you take horse lessons, read books, and attend clinics you should be changing and so should your horse. If you attend church, read the Bible, and participate in Bible study you should be changing and everyone around you should recognize it.

  • Are you bored?
  • Is the message repetitive?
  • Have you lost your first love?

If you’re not changing then you must do something different than what you’re doing now.

Most folks attribute this astute observation to Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”

You Can’t Meet the Lord Jesus Christ Without Changing

Anyone who has entered the presence of Jesus Christ must be changed.

“Being saved and seeing Jesus are not the same thing. Many are partakers of God’s grace who have never seen Jesus. When once you have seen Jesus, you can never be the same, other things do not appeal as they used to do.” – Oswald Chambers

It isn’t possible to be a New Creation in Christ without changing. The old man is gone and the new is born.

No parent-child relationship remains exactly as it was the day the baby was born.

No marriage remains exactly as it was the moment Mr. and Mrs. were first introduced after vowing ’til death do us part.

  • Puppies grow into dogs.
  • Kittens grow into cats.
  • Little boys grow into men.
  • Little girls grow into women.
  • New Creations in Christ grow into ____________.

How would you fill in the blank?

All five examples refer to the path from birth to maturity. What determines how great a dog, cat, man, woman, or New Creation becomes is what happens along the way. Every puppy doesn’t become a faithful servant and some little boys grow up to be criminals.

It’s the active, walking, relating part of life that takes one newly born toward maturity.

Learn to Recognize Discipleship Opportunity

Once you realize that every student working with your present horse instructor is limited to walking and turning it’s time to seek a new instructor.  Find a lesson barn where there are walkers, trotters, and lopers. Look for riders who share what they’ve learned about loping with the trotters and where the trotters share what they know with the walkers.

Barn gatherings should include everyone, regardless of accomplishment. Enjoying horses is about love and relationship, not a competition.

If you attend church meetings where everyone moves at the same speed and very few are more accomplished, perhaps it’s time to seek more discipleship opportunity.It’s easy to recognize discipleship when you see it. There are various levels of spiritual advancement. Each person learns from one who is a bit further along the walk and reaches back to help those coming up behind.

Change is necessary. Few riders are content to just mount up, walk off, turn right or left and stop. Fewer still should be content to discover Christ and do NOTHING more. Doing ANYTHING more in relationship to Jesus Christ will change you.

The lost are found. Seekers become New Creations in Christ. That blessed moment is just the beginning.

New Creations in Christ grow into ______________.

How would you fill in the blank? Are you changing?


You’ll find more inspiration and practical application of the discipleship process – with horses and other Christians – in Discipleship with Horses – Journey of Joy.

Practical. Inspirational.

Practical. Inspirational.



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