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?

Horse sticking its tongue out

There are times when teaching manners to a young horse it difficult.  It is best to teach them how to walk beside you and behave when they are little, but that isn’t always possible.  In the past, I have purchase a horse or acquired a retired racehorse that came to me with bad habits or little understanding of what is expected of them.  They tend to walk into me, rather than beside me, or try to drag me around as I do my best to lead them.  There have been horses that didn’t want to be caught, ones that have tried to run me down, and ones that simply refuse to move.  These horses are usually very impulse-driven and have little self-control – usually because someone hasn’t taken the time to teach them or discipline them when they act out.  There are also times when teaching a horse how to behave becomes a power struggle.  And, believe me, when it comes down to pound-to-pound, humans often lose the fight.  So, some trainers choose to have another teacher step in and take over: a donkey.  What happens is this: you put a round collar-like tube around the horse’s neck and another one just like it around the donkey’s.  Then, the “collars” are connected by a bungee-type rope in order for some give and take in the line between the two animals.  When the horse tries to bolt ahead of the donkey, pull it in a different direction, or try to eat first without permission from the donkey, the donkey’s collar will slip forward on its neck and bump into the donkey’s ears.  This makes the donkey quite angry, and he will turn and clearly put the young horse in its place.  It’s quite funny to watch this take place over and over again until the horse finally learns to behave.  It works in just about every case and usually in a short span of time.

While we aren’t horses, we do need training and discipline to gain self-control and godly behavior.  And while there are no spiritual donkeys to attach ourselves to, there are spiritual habits and disciplines to help us become more like Jesus in our actions and attitudes.  Reading the Bible, praying, meditating, fasting, and memorizing scripture are just a few examples of habits that God can use to transform us. 

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