The Scripture We Don’t Understand

It is a common complaint that the Bible does not make sense. When recommending that someone read God’s Word for themselves, they seem more likely to ask, “what if I don’t understand it?” than, “where would I find one?”

Almost everyone has a Bible or knows how to get one. In that sense, it is accessible. But if it is so easy to obtain and if many in the world have found in it the words of life and understood them, why is this such a persistent concern? Continue reading

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Wise Men Seek Him Still

Shepherds in their fields abiding,
Angels them with fear did fill.
With joy they rush to greet their king,
The King of sick and poor and ill.
Those who have so few possessions
Recognize God’s greatest gift.
Seeking Him, forget oppressions;
Poor men seek Him still.

Men of science and great learning
Knowing nothing of God’s will—
Guided by that star there shining
Seeing Him, knelt, with awe instill.
Greater learning now we have,
Greater knowledge, greater grasp—
But wisdom, now, is cut in half;
Wise men seek Him still.

Herod learned the King was born
And just like those who tithed their dill,
Rachel’s children from her torn
As he tried God’s Son to kill.
Though He is in heaven now,
Men on Earth will still be cruel.
His authority they reject;
Some men hate Him still.

Though we sin and we rebel,
He assures a heavenly hill.
All He requests is our poor will;
One Man loves us still.

© The Horsegentler 2016.

Prerequisites

One of the greatest principles of horse training that makes the job vastly easier for both the horse and the trainer is that of breaking tasks down into tiny parts. The smaller the thing the horse has to learn, the faster he will learn it. Some manoeuvres can be broken down into many tiny parts, and some into only a few. The horse is taught each one separately, and then when they are all put together the horse is able to do a very difficult task with no exasperation.

The warning signs that some prerequisite has been missed are subtle at first. The horse simply gives no response to the aid being given. It’s like a ‘blank look’ that a human could give you when they don’t understand what you are asking. When being taught something new that the horse has all the tools he needs to learn, he will at least give a ‘try,’ attempting to figure out what the trainer wants this time by piecing together his knowledge of the aids being given. Often, though, when a horse really has no idea what a given aid means, he will give up trying very quickly. Young horses are especially prone to giving up.

If the handler did not notice the horse’s first subtle communication, then the horse escalates. He begins to trial avoidance behaviour, getting more and more frustrated. In my case, I was riding Noella and her show of frustration is to speed up. I spent a lot of time trying to slow her down, but her stop response is fairly new and was beginning to be overshadowed by her attempts to avoid what I was asking. She didn’t know, and I couldn’t help her because she couldn’t know—she hadn’t been taught the prerequisite.

The task we were working on was haunches-in. The horse essentially walks straight but with their hindquarters positioned slightly towards the inside of the arena so that, when standing behind the horse, three ‘tracks’ are visible. When a horse is walking normally, two ‘tracks’ are visible from the back.

Breaking down manoeuvres has always been difficult for me and has never been explained to me with an example, so I will go through how this task breaks down. We’ve seen in my above description that the horse is walking forward, and that he moves his haunches towards the inside of the ring:

  1. The horse must walk forward on the ground and under saddle.
  2. The horse must bend to the inside from an inside aid on the ground and under saddle (in other words, he must be able to complete a proper circle).
  3. At a halt, the horse must yield his haunches from an outside aid on the ground and under saddle (in other words, he must be able to complete a proper turn on the forehand).
  4. While not absolutely necessary, other lateral movements such as side passing, turning on the haunches, and leg yielding will accelerate learning, because they are of the same nature as the haunches-in.

Noella knew 1. and 2. quite well, as we had just been working on circles before attempting the haunches-in. Her yield is very rusty, however, and I still have to help her a lot when I ask for a turn on the forehand. Because that one prerequisite was missing, Noella could not understand what I needed from her and became frustrated with my continued asking.

So if you are making no headway with that new task you are trying to teach your horse, go through it and think carefully about what individual steps you are asking your horse to perform at once and practice each one separately. Think also about tasks like the ones I listed in 4. above, that are similar but easier to learn and could help accelerate the horse’s learning. When you put them together, you will have a happy, relaxed horse who looks like he’s been doing it for years.

The Horsegentler

Why the Old Testament is Important

It is such a temptation to read the ‘more interesting’ ‘more engaging’ ‘more relevant’ part of the Bible and leave the ‘barbarous’ ‘law section’ ‘difficult to understand’ part out entirely. But truthfully, the Old Testament makes up way more than half of our Bibles. If all Scripture is God-breathed, like the New Testament says, then the Old Testament must be good for something.

  1. It can be used to instruct. Again, the New Testament declares that all Scripture is useful to teach and instruct and correct. When those words were written, ‘Scripture’ meant the Old Testament, because the New had not yet been compiled. The Old Testament is full of history, poetry, and laws, all of which can be used to admonish and instruct through the wisdom and examples found in them.
  2. It shows the veracity of the Bible. The history contained in the Bible, both in the New and Old Testaments (but especially the Old) helps to prove the truthfulness of the Bible. Many of the historical events recorded there have been confirmed by historians—even secular ones!
  3. It provides an essential foundation for all that comes after. Here I especially refer to Genesis 1-11, but the entire Old Testament is actually a foundation for the New. If we don’t believe what God says He did at the beginning, how can we logically believe what He says He did to help the Israelites? How can we logically believe what He says He did to save us? And further, how can we logically believe what He says He will do in future? When Christ came, He was the fulfillment of what is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44). In order to fully grasp what Jesus did, we need to understand how it all started.
  4. It explains the preconditions of intelligibility. The preconditions of intelligibility include many non-material things that we take for granted and assume every day such as morality, laws of logic, and the basic reliability of our senses. No other worldview except the one whose foundations are found in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament can make sense of non-material things that everyone in the universe knows about. We are not taught morality, nor are we taught to trust our senses. We intuitively know, and without the Almighty God creating our minds and instructing us to pattern our thoughts after His (laws of logic), and placing His law in our hearts (morality), we could know nothing.
  5. I am sure that there are more reasons. If you think of one, feel free to comment below on the post and add to the list of reasons why all, not just part, of God’s Word is important to our life today.

The Horsegentler