I went out to the pasture with the class to halter Destiny. On my way down, I felt a hint to get Lakota. Lakota was below the dam and as I came around the pond, that silly horse was right up against the fence standing under the trees. The horses have a tendency to say “Hi” to the neighbor horses and Lakota, being the ‘guardian’ of the herd, thought it best to get directly in the middle of things to guarantee that all was secure.
He glanced at me and offered a little nicker. How fun – he’s saying “Hi” to me! I went to love on him and on approaching, realized he was stuck–and stuck good! That “hi” was really “help!” Thick vines, wrapped around his front and back legs, held him prisoner. How in the world did he get in there? Puzzled by the challenge at hand, I was intrigued by Lakota’s quiet resilience. In approaching him, I anticipated some sort of quick movement – a panicked flight – a struggle to break free. However, he showed no signs of stress – sweat nor panic. He just waited – with seemingly a patient confidence in my ability to help him.
I tried to trace the vines to their beginning or end in order to pull them out – a bit like untangling last year’s wad of Christmas lights – with no end in sight. They were too large to break and too tangled to separate. I looked up the hill for the students; hoping one of them could get the nippers. Unfortunately, they were already just tiny silhouettes marching up the hill, into the paddocks to get their horses ready for class. It was up to me to struggle through this challenging scary mess with a #1000 horse. Lakota stood quietly watching … waiting on me.
With knowing I just had to ‘gitter dun’ I looked up and asked for Help. I stepped in to evaluate – fear trembling in my heart but voice and hands steady. Lakota needed me. I rubbed Lakota’s strong, still frame, my warm voice assuring him I would rescue him from this stuck place. Meanwhile, I anxiously wondered when his panic would begin to set in. Yet he stood quietly … and he waited.
I cracked a small tree so he would be able to step forward after I freed each and every leg. He just kept nudging his nose closer to me. I could feel his warm breath on my neck. I was his only hope in this stuck place, and he wanted me near.
A deep breath – the resolve to go in … the real work began. First, I tested his response by picking up his front leg and gently setting it down in the exact same place; he showed no resistance, no panic. So I rubbed him again as I moved to free that front leg. He fully yielded to me, so willing for me to pick up and place the hoof where I thought safest and best. I paused – waiting again for a sudden bolt, Lakota thinking he was finally free. No – he just waited.
I crushed a large vine under my foot to clear a path, hoping he would step over, but instead he whipped his tail back and forth with fierce determination. This is what I anticipated, he was upset and I braced myself for the worst. But no – there was no attempt to move? Lakota was simply telling me that his feet weren’t the only things stuck! His tail was wrapped in brambles. As if the vines weren’t obstacle enough, I had to go around the brambles to free his tail from the thorny rose brush. He took a step forward trying to follow me, so I put my hand on his chest – he obeyed and waited. After untangling his tail from those persistent brambles, I circled back around to resume the detailed work of untangling each stuck leg.
And … Lakota quietly waited.
I yanked hard at a vine under his belly and pried it loose enough to step on, so that he could step over it. I freed each back leg from another thick vine. All the while desperately hoping Lakota would continue to trust until he was completely free. Please – no panic into disaster before the final leg was out. I asked again for the Help needed. Lakota began to sense the beginning of his long awaited freedom, I could feel it. But instead of pushing forward on his own – he waited for me to give him the queue for each movement needed. He turned his head to watch me free him.
Finally, it was time to finish this horrendous task. Stepping on the smaller vine, pulling the larger toward me so it wouldn’t interfere with his forward motion, I opened the way for him to step forward.
And … Lakota quietly waited.
Instead he bent his head toward me, nuzzled me with his muzzle for assurance, and waited. What was he waiting for? What was I missing this time? Everything looked open and a way was made.
Oh my! This horse! My heart didn’t know how to feel! Really? This horse was waiting for me to TELL him to go forward. He wanted to know from me that it was ok. Even though the way looked open – he was waiting for my queue to give him permission to go forward. I did not tell him to go forward – I only had opened the way. What a hilarious picture this must have been. I raised my other leg so I could free one hand to tap him on his barrel, encouraging him to step out of this stuck place. He softly listened to that prompting and carefully took each step, sensitive of possible snags. He nuzzled me one more time, his warm breath sighing heavily, and trustingly stepped out of this stuck place.
When free, he stopped, checked back with me – to see if I was ok? Then Lakota slowly, peacefully walked forward – it was no big thing to him.
WOW! I was in awe of this horse that could trust so deeply, and wait so quietly as I guided each step out of an impossibly stuck place.
Walking up the hill, thrilled and exhausted, my heart surrendered humbly to my Jesus. Yet again and without fail, He touched my heart with a horse.
In tired, teachable tears I asked my Helper- “When I feel stuck, help me to wait – trusting You. Wait for You to place each step where You know best. Wait for You to free every part of me that is stuck – no panic, no stress. Wait for You to untangle all my messes. Wait – even though the way seems open, wait for you to give the queue to walk through the opened way. Wait for only You to set ALL of me free.”
On His trail – Roxanne Van Riessen