I stood in the center of the 60-foot, metal, round pen with my hands hanging by my sides. A coiled lariat was in my right hand. Shaking my head in frustration, I watched my new black Tennessee walker mare fly around the rails like she was a raving lunatic. Dazzle’s head was arched as she looked over the rail and away from me. Her hooves thundered over the soft ground, occasionally kicking up clods of dirt. I dropped my eyes and stared at the ground to “release” the pressure from her, but she kept charging full-speed ahead. What happened? I wondered. I’d ridden her before I’d purchased her a couple of days ago. She hadn’t been anything like this.
My goal was to shape the beginning of my relationship with Dazzle by establishing myself as her leader. I wanted to end her training session on a positive note, but she wouldn’t even look at me! I frowned. She’s acting crazy. God, what should I do?
I kicked the toe of my boot into the dirt. In my spirit I heard, “Stop her. She thinks she’s running away from you. Work her at a walk.” My eyebrows furrowed. I shrugged my shoulders. Raising my lariat, I extended it to the side and walked toward the rail. Dazzle galloped toward me with her head to the outside. As she got closer she slowed and turned her head. Her gaze was on me. I raised the lariat and stepped toward the rail, creating an imaginary fence with my arm.
Bracing all four feet, Dazzle skidded to a stop. Instantly she pivoted 180 degrees and gathered her haunches underneath her so she could take off in the other direction. But I moved quickly and blocked her path. After a couple failed attempts to escape, the mare stood facing the fence. Her sides heaved as she gasped for breath. I lowered my voice and said, “Good girl, Dazzle. Just stand there and be at peace.” All the muscles in her body trembled.
For the next hour I worked with Dazzle. Before the lesson was over, she was calmly walking around the pen, keeping me in the center of her attention. When I turned my mare loose for the day, I asked God what He had planned, and I focused my eyes on what He was doing.
While training Dazzle, God tossed a lariat over me. He reminded me of the wisdom in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” It’s my heart’s desire to join up with Him, yet how can I do that if I act like Dazzle? How can I be part of the incredible things He has planned when I race through life looking over the rail toward the outside of my life instead of looking toward the center—my life in and with Him? In this noisy world of blaring distractions, how do we focus our eyes and hearts on God? For me, every day has some battles, but I’m winning by doing some simple things:
1. The first thing I do is start my day with God—even if it’s only for a few minutes. I make sure that I’m by myself and somewhere quiet where all distractions are turned off as much as possible. These moments set the compass of my faith to guide the direction of my day.
2. The second thing I do is fun. I put sticky notes around my home and in my day planner. The hot-pink, apple-green, and bright-yellow notes add a rainbow of color to my day and catch my gaze. Sometimes I scribble Scriptures on them or a simple reminder to check in with God. When I see them, they stop me in my tracks so that I am still and know that He is God.
Questions for You: Do you race through life like Dazzle galloped around the round pen? When you do this, is it hard to keep yourself focused on God? What are some fun things you can do to change that?
Excerpted from Great Horse Stories by Rebecca Ondov
Rebecca Ondov spent 15 years doing ranch work, helping and guiding pack trips, and working as a wilderness ranger. She’s the author of The Once in a Blue Moon Boot Bus picture book and has won writing competitions at Guideposts. She founded Blazing Ink, Inc., and currently works in lumber. She lives in western Montana and enjoys her menagerie of 3 horses, 2 mules, some barn cats, and a dog. Connect with Rebecca and learn more about her inspirational horse stories at www.rebeccaondov.com.