I knew from the minute I agreed to accept Chance as a rescue from the owner of the boarding stable at which I worked, that I had my work cut out for me. Chance had been abused for most of his twenty years of life and sadly he bore the scars both emotionally and physically. He trusted no one and gaining his trust was to be but the first of many obstacles I would have to overcome.
In the beginning I must confess that I trusted Chance no more than he trusted me. In addition to being nervous, jumpy and flighty, he did not like to be caught and absolutely did not like being touched. Even in the pasture he was a loner and preferred his own company to that of the other horses. So to say that it was with extreme caution and suspicion which we summed one another up would be an understatement. Our relationship began with my keeping him up in his stall in the mornings rather than turning him out with the other horses. I would just stand at the door of his stall and look at him and he would stand on the opposite side as far away from me as he could get and look at me. Once he began to show signs of relaxing I began to talk to him and eventually he made his way over to where I stood lowering his head so I could rub his forehead.
As so it went. Little by little, each small step a victory we progressed until the time came for me to see if he would allow me to ride him. By this time I knew that Chance's heart was kind and that his issues were borne from the cruelty he had suffered at the hands of people. Rebellion was the only way he knew to protect himself. So while I did not know what to expect from that first ride, I was not afraid of him or that he would try to hurt me. So after I saddled him I led him to one of the fenced in pastures, removed his halter and put on his bridle. I checked his girth one more time to make sure he hadn't let out enough air for it to become loose and after a final adjustment I took hold of the reins, grabbed the saddle horn and put my left foot in the stirrup.
The moment Chance felt the weight of my body in the stirrup he took off like a rocket. This was not a totally unexpected reaction. Chance was a pretty good barrel horse and lacking responsible owners, he was only taught to run under saddle and race thru the barrel pattern over, and over, and over. He didn't know how to walk, trot or gallop. So we were running thru the pasture at a pretty good clip and I was engaging the training skills I had learned in my life which would be useful in this situation. Bless his heart, Chance was trying to listen and figure out from my body weight and cues what I wanted him to do. All of a sudden I felt the saddle start to slip and in the blink of any eye I was making my way down the side of Chance's body, him still running pretty much flat out. I remember thinking as I grabbed a handful of mane, this isn't gonna be good.
I found myself looking for the best opportunity to let myself drop to the ground, which is funny because if you have ever been in that situation you know there is no good time to let yourself drop off a running horse. I was just about to let go of Chance's mane when he figured out what was going on and as soon as he did he locked up his brakes and just stopped. Once he stopped I let myself drop to the ground and I just laid there for a moment. I can honestly tell you it was the only time in my life I have ever found myself laying on the ground looking up at the belly of a horse. I got myself up on my feet and realized I had tears rolling down my face. I wasn't crying because I had been frightened but rather because it was at that very moment I knew I had Chance's heart and that he trusted me.
I learned so much about life and myself from that old horse and I think about him nearly every day. And it occurs to me that this is often the way we come to God in the beginning. We are broken and bruised, fearful and untrusting and wanting to be left alone. Then God comes and stands there quietly and patiently waiting for us to come to Him. And when we do it is not because He has forced us to but rather because our hearts are drawn to Him. And then little by little we take baby steps learning to trust God until the day comes when we surrender our hearts and our lives to Him totally. And when that day comes we never look back except to wonder what it was we ever did without Him.
Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.