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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tight, Scary and Uncomfortable

Right after college I worked a few months for a place called Tequila Flats.  It was a quarter horse place and the guy that owned it also boarded some horse for the kids from local college, where incidentally he went just a year ahead of me.  Nice guy, probably more money than sense, but still an alright guy.  Why he hired me, I don’t know.  But I got to work with another guy (Doug) who worked there and I respected him as a trainer.  So it was a win-win for me. 

When I started, it was right around Thanksgiving.  So several of the college boarders were going to be out of town, we had a full book as far as boarders were concerned.  But the owner, ever the guy looking to make money just couldn’t turn down one more boarder.  In fact, he told her that we (Doug and I) would be over to pick the horse up where she was currently boarding.  Ever the faithful employees, we headed over to pick this gal’s horse up.

When we drove in, I noticed a little narrow, short one horse trailer. 

I also noticed this big ol’ black thoroughbred gelding running in the pasture.  I should have been clued in right there, but ya know….clueless.  The girl was red faced and out of breath, again…should have been a clue.  We jumped out like the professional trainers that we were and immediately deduced that she could not catch her horse.  Being the ever prepared professional trainers, Doug had the foresight to bring a lariat.  So he immediately turned around and grabbed the rope.  Incidentally, on the ride over we had been talking about how to fore foot a horse.   Fortuitously we had happened upon a chance to put talk into action.  Doug stepped into the pen and was about to show all of his roping skills.  Somewhat anticlimactically the horse immediately stopped running when he started swinging the rope and Doug was able to walk right up to him.  We were disappointed, to say the least.

As we lead the horse up to the large two horse trailer, we chatted up the girl.  She told us that she and her parents had brought the horse all the way from California in that little one horse trailer, and didn’t even have to stop once!  Now I was pretty good at math and I quickly added up the miles between California and Lamar, Colorado; the answer was a whole bunch of miles.  I started feeling a little sorry for that big ol’ black thoroughbred.  Her trailer was tiny and I couldn’t even imagine Blackie being stuffed in there for what was probably about an 18 hour trip.  I bet he looked like a sausage that had its skin split, just bursting out everywhere.  But, lucky for him we professional trainers were there to rescue him from that gal’s ignorance.

As soon as we walked up to the trailer, Blackie balked.  I can’t say as I blame him.  We knew it was going to take some time at that point.  So for an hour we coaxed and cajoled, trying to get Big Boy into the trailer.  We used grain in a bucket, grain on the floor of the trailer and even tried waiving that rope around his behind (without actually hitting him, of course).  When the first hour was finally up, our tempers were also up.  Now we had not spoken a cross word to that horse, yet.  After all, the owner was still there watching us.  But, Blackie (Big Boy and several other names I was calling him in my head) was having no part of that trailer.  The next hour was spent being just a little more aggressive trying to get him into the trailer.  We actually gave him several soft love taps on the hind end, we linked our hands behind him and tried to push him in (that’s kind of funny now…I weighed about 150 pounds and Doug was about 175, the horse was about 1250…we thought we could push him in?).  After all of these gyrations, we were still no further along that when we started.  After the second hour, we were no longer calling him the other names in our heads.  The words were coming out of our mouths, probably to the shock of the young lady.  Tempers were flaring.  At one point, I quickly stepped back with the thought of kicking Blackie in the belly as hard as I could. 

This is a time tested method that generally all cowboys have tried at one time or another, with the same amount of success.  The process actually starts earlier and is set up by the inability of a cowboy to get an animal to act in the manner in which the cowboy wants.  It is normally about a two hour process and toward the end includes vocabulary that speaks to the heritage of the animal.  Once the vocabulary stage is reached it is not much further until the cowboy steps back quickly, you don’t want to think about the process – action is required, and lashes out with his boot and attempts to crush several ribs of the animal in question.  Now with all of the power a half starved cowboy can produce you would think there would be instant results.  There usually is, typically all you succeed in doing is breaking your toe and scaring the animal in question.

I would like to say that it was our superior horsemanship skills that loaded that horse, but probably when I stepped back so fast, it startled Blackie.  He lunged forward into the large two horse trailer and Doug quickly slammed the door shut and latched it.  We headed home discussing the heritage of the horse, the gal and any drivers on the road that drove to slow…or too fast…or just were on the road.

Needless to say, we knew when she came to pick up her horse it was going to be just as much trouble to catch and load him as it was before, but that’s another story for another time.

Now you would not think there could be a biblical lesson in this, but I believe there is.  Think about that horse not wanting to get in that trailer because he remembers that last time he was in there.  It was tight and scary and he was there for a long time.  All of these are bad experiences for a claustrophobic animal.  He wanted no part of going back in there, even though we did not mean him any harm (at first).  We only wanted what was best for him (at first).

I remember the first time the preacher asked me to cover for him on Sunday.  My first thought was that he had lost his mind, what in the world made him ask me?  But, I wanted to be obedient so I finally gave in to the call God put on me.  That Sunday I was pretty nervous.  My shirt was too tight around the collar, the songs were too short and several other things that I was uncomfortable about.  Just like that black gelding; It was tight, scary and uncomfortable for me.  Long story short, I gave what is probably in the top 10 as shortest sermons ever and was relieved that it was over.  I thought, “I’m never doing that again!’

You better watch what you say; God has a way of saying “I’ve got better plans for you than that”.  So the next time God called me to talk, I was still as nervous as before.  I stressed during the preparation before I realized that God didn’t want to hurt me; he only wanted what was best for me.  The day of the talk, there I was nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  Remembering all of the stress I had before.  God finally grabbed ahold of me and said, “Trust Me on this”.  He told me that I had prepared and that I needed to trust that the Holy Spirit would do all of the work.  It’s funny, I spoke for about 45 minutes.  At one point I looked down and saw how far along I was; for a second or so, I panicked a little…I thought maybe I had skipped some parts.  But, the Holy Spirit grabbed me again and said, “I got this”.  I was a vessel for God; he was just using me to pour out his words.  See I was really nervous, because I remembered how nervous I was on the previous sermon, so I thought I couldn’t do this one.  I was right, I COULDN”T DO IT!  God did it.

How easy is it to trust what God says, even if it’s tight, scary and uncomfortable?

Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.  You will eat the fruit of you labor; bblessings and prosperity will be yours.

Psalms 128:1-2