Have you ever seen a horse on a teeter-totter?
This is a familiar sight at my grandpa’s secluded farm on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he trains the Cincinnati Mounted Patrol to navigate their horses through an unusual obstacle course. The course includes fluttering balloons, gunshots, a narrow “tunnel” filled with trash, sirens, his flaming arch of fire and, of course, an oversized teeter-totter!
The need to learn
Without this training the average horse would quickly panic in a downtown atmosphere. As prey animals, horses are naturally skittish around the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells that are brimming in any city.
Even after rigorous training, horse-human teams still encounter unexpected difficulties. For example, a mounted unit in Florida cornered and almost caught two drug dealers. But the criminals escaped because an officer’s horse refused to jump the guardrail! After hearing this story, Grandpa incorporated a guardrail jump into his obstacle course.
Grandpa trains horses
Grandpa has run a thriving horse training business for over 40 years and has worked with the Cincinnati Mounted Patrol the last 20 years. He enjoys this success because his training principles work! When I asked him what his secret was, Grandpa explained, “I train horses the same way God trains us.”
Let me explain. Horses operate by instinct; submission to man is a foreign concept. They must be taught to understand our commands and to obey them. Similarly, man operates by human nature, which is naturally contrary to God’s way (see Galatians 5:17 Galatians 5:17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
American King James Version×). We both (horses and humans) learn to obey because there are consequences: rewards for doing right and punishment for disobedience (see Genesis 4:7 Genesis 4:7If you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin lies at the door. And to you shall be his desire, and you shall rule over him.
American King James Version×).
Consequences for a horse come in the form of physical pressure and release. In order to win a horse’s respect and submission, Grandpa must be very consistent in always applying the correct amount of pressure at the right time. As crucial as that is, it is even more important to release at the exact instant the horse yields. This principle of pressure and release is effective for every sort of training, from the mundane habit of picking up their feet to the more extraordinary feat of walking through fire!
God trains us
Since human nature is inherently contrary to God’s way, we wouldn’t know how to please Him or how to live a godly life without His revealed word, the Bible. Yet we have so much to gain from obeying the commands of the Being who “wrote” the laws of the universe and instructs us for our good (see Deuteronomy 10:13 Deuteronomy 10:13To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command you this day for your good?
American King James Version×).
Humanly, many of God’s instructions don’t make sense. For instance, “What’s so important about keeping the Sabbath?” Our human discernment doesn’t grasp the significance. (Check out God’s Sabbath Rest .)
Remember the horse that refused to jump the guardrail? Though he didn’t see the urgency, his rider knew why jumping the guardrail was so essential. Likewise, we need to trust that God in His infinite wisdom discerns far beyond our limited perception. When we obey Him on faith, we reap His blessings and avoid the negative consequences of sin.
Just as these fine horses are tested, you can learn more by taking this Vertical Thought test on Bible study questions called “What Is Faith?”
Police horses enjoy a healthy relationship built on trust and respect as they learn to obey their riders. As we learn to trust and obey God, we not only have the opportunity to live a good life now (see 1 Timothy 4:8 1 Timothy 4:8For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
American King James Version×), but to live a fantastic life for eternity! VT