The 4 Basic Commands of Horse Training and Discipleship

God wants the same three things from me that I want from my horses; to (1) Show up, (2) Focus, and (3) Offer obedience.  Christian Horse Training (CHT) is discipleship with horses and founded on simple gospel principles.

This article compares the basic “commands” Jesus gave to His disciples with the four basic “commands” we give to our horses. Read on a bit further and you’ll begin to realize that rarely will these four be used in a commanding manner.

  • Come – not pull
  • Follow – not drag behind
  • Go – not beat away
  • Yield – not demand

Obedience is only possible if the opportunity exists to not obey. Jesus will never force you to do anything. Following His example properly means that we issue requests or make commands without force; at liberty, with a slack rope, or with hands that assist rather than accuse.


“So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” – Matthew 14:29

Obedient Horse

Mendi and Twister. pg 225

“Come” may be used as an invitation, question, request, or a command. In any case, it is only perfectly used with an open hand. “Come” is seldom associated with a yank or physical pull.

  • “Would you like to come?” is an invitation.
  • “Will you come?” is a question.
  • “Please come” is a direct request.
  • “COME” is a command.

Come is a significant command. Obedience requires the horse to make a response of both body and will. “Come” never involves pulling. A horse cannot offer to “Come” if there is no choice other than compliance or being dragged forward.

After washing Jesus’s feet, Mary dried them with her hair. No verse in God’s Word suggests that Jesus ever dragged anyone anywhere. Jesus does not coerce – He offers. That principle is duplicated in Christian Horse Training.


“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” – John 10:27

The word follow may also be used to describe a choice as well as a command. Sheep follow the shepherd because he is the place of provision, affection, and safety. When Jesus told Peter to follow Him (John 21:22) it was both a command and an end to the discussion.

Regardless of how it is used, as invitation, question, request, or command, when used by our Lord or in CHT, the opportunity to “follow” is never accompanied by force.


“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” – James 3:!7

The most common and often used request or command is to yield. To yield means to give way without resistance or bitterness. Every other command implies that the one receiving it will offer obedience and willingly yield; to come or follow without being pulled or dragged.

Yielding is a positive choice rather than the result of coercion. Yielding is not giving in, it is a willing response.

To yield is to comply, cooperate, permit, accept, or allow.

Go – Send

“So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” – John 20:21

The command to ‘Go’ is either directional or used to establish action. One of the most difficult skills to teach a horse is a properly timed ‘Go’ – to move when you ask and not to move when you haven’t asked. Some horses have a tough time standing still while others are so lazy, dull, or unwilling that riders have to ask, insist, ask again, threaten, then simply hope the horse will begin to move sometime before dark.

Giving a command to go, or to send, is a direction. Beating a horse away from you is NOT an example of a command to “Go!” but of dominance or rejection.

Until you establish a good “Go” you won’t get very far with any other lesson. Most responses we want a horse to make are made in motion. Turning, changing speed or gait, or perfecting how a horse carries himself requires the horse to already be in motion. To be in motion the horse must “Go” when you ask.

I have yet to encounter any issue with a horse that is not the result of poor execution or an unwillingness to obey one of these four basic commands: Come, Follow, Go, Yield.

“For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” – Matthew 8:9

Every imperfection in our relationship with Jesus Christ is due to our failure to obey one of His four basic commands. Horses don’t get the benefit of perfect leadership, but we, as children of the King of Kings, are blessed by a perfect Shepherd.


Excerpted from the new release, Discipleship with Horses – Journey of Joy.  

Now available on Amazon. Kindle and paperback.


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