The horse had seemed peaceful a moment before, looking intently over the fence, but suddenly it reared and was spinning away right towards its handler.The instructor set off at a jog towards her student, who had successfully dodged the horse’s blind move and was holding the lead rope limply, looking dazed. Her mare walked briskly around in a circle, head and tail high, looking anywhere but at her.
Taking the rope gently from her hand, the instructor put her arm around her student’s shoulder and spoke quietly, explaining what had happened.
“She didn’t remember that you were there. Her attention was somewhere else, just like it is now. Once we get her attention, that won’t happen again, and she will be able to work with us. Do you want me to show you how, or do you want a little break to watch me?”
“I’d rather learn,” the student replied, a little shakily.
“Alright,” her instructor replied, holding the rope a little more firmly. “I’m going to ask her to just look my way.” Making a little noise, she twitched the rope. The beautiful mare kept walking for three steps, placing her feet in every direction, and stopped suddenly. “Now we move quickly,” she told her student, guiding her swiftly to the side, towards the mare’s hindquarters, tugging on the rope as she did so.
Startled, the mare swung her hindquarters away and backed up with her head in the air. But still only one ear attended to the women for a couple of seconds, and then the mare’s neck was arching in another direction, ears pointed towards the car moving up the driveway.
“I’m going to keep asking her for things, every couple of seconds,” the trainer continued. “When she isn’t thinking about me and misses my direction, I’ll have to remind her fairly sharply. Otherwise, she’ll know that my first request is only a suggestion, and she doesn’t actually have to do it.” Pointing forwards with the lead, she asked the mare to walk on. She didn’t notice, but moved randomly to the side to get a better look at the car, which was now parking.
“Now we’ll step forward into her. Wave your left arm,” she instructed. Her student did, and the mare leapt forward into the circle. “Perfect. Now we’ll have her turn towards us. Step back and to your left.” Both of them stepped back, but the mare kept circling. “Now we’ll push into her, and I’ll pull her around.” The mare’s head came up, and both ears were directed at them, and she turned in.
“We’ll switch directions. Step to my right and push her out again.”
This time the mare complied, flicking one ear towards them and lowering her head.
“Perfect. Now what do you want to do?”
“Could we bring her in and reward her?”
“Certainly. Step in front of her, towards her head.” The girl followed her trainer’s instructions, and her mare stopped, but a little slowly. “Push into her more. It was too slow.”
Doing so, the girl pressed the mare backwards.
“Now draw her in. Back up towards me, and call her.” The mare approached softly, stopped with a respectful distance between them, and sighed. Reaching up, the girl rubbed her mare’s forehead.
“Now she’s listening,” she said, turning back to her trainer with a grin.
“She is. Both of you need to focus to get the job done, but you just showed her there are better things to think about than the car or the wind, or the goblin behind the fencepost. Good job. Now, let’s get back to that exercise we were working on.”
Moral of the Story
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.
This mare was distracted by things that didn’t really matter. It took gentle questions and then sometimes harsh corrections from her trainer for her to realize that focusing on the pleasant, soft cue was much nicer.
There are plenty of things in this world that are true or noble or pure or lovely or admirable or excellent or praiseworthy, and they are good to think about—but our Trainer is true and noble and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy. How much more should we think about Him?