Horse News. Christian Living. Equine Education
The Christian Equestrian's Literary "Stamp" in Type
Rebekah L. Holt is a Christian horsewoman with an experienced background from managing a pony breeding farm and training family pleasure horses to ride and pull carts. Born with an inherent fervor for horses, Rebekah was provided many opportunities to work with horses while growing up. As a certified instructor, Miss Holt has been privileged to teach able-bodied and special needs children and adults the foundations of horsemanship since 2003.
January 28 is a day I will never forget! That's the date when my first horse, "Acey" was delivered and from my viewpoint at that time--my life began!
As the farmer's daughter, I grew up around and loving animals for as long as can be remembered. Cats and dogs were my first love. A Border Collie puppy named Cookie captivated my first interest in training animals when I was only 7. Yet, through my parents, I learned volumes about the other animals around the farm. Bottle calves, hand-milking Jersey cows, the chickens, goats, and even a donkey named Jethro all left a hoof/foot print in my life’s animal experiences. Yet, to own my own horse seemed the optimum. It wasn’t just a matter of having a horse. Sure, we had borrowed horses. But to own one’s own horse was a mark of achievement—at least in the thoughts of a wide eyed dreamer.
Around the age of 9, I had it all worked out. I first wanted a mule. Then I wanted to raise a mule as a baby. But then, that didn’t work out (despite my parents making arrangements to accommodate that desire—a friend’s mare wouldn’t come into season, our county ended up with a quarantine that restricted our transporting the mare to the jack, etc., etc., etc.). Weary of waiting and praying for this desire, at the end of 1995, I then my sights on owning my own horse. Even at that tender age, I had a criteria: 1) Sorrel with blazed face and stockings, 2) young so I could train her myself, 3) a filly because I wanted to raise foals out of her. In my times of waiting, I had been studying the stallions I planned to take my filly to. One was Shining Spark—who at the time was a budding “unknown” champion. Even as a young girl, it seemed I had good taste in horse flesh, for Shining Spark became a multi-million dollar stallion/performer/producer and the last time he was offered at stud—the fee was $10,000.00! Incidentally, years later, on my 25th birthday, I traveled to “meet” Shining Spark (see pic with Palomino below).
Buying Acey was a storybook horse tale. In small town Overton, Texas—Dad talked with some of his friends, who told us to go see Jack Evans. Before Dad and I even walked into Mr. Evans downtown insurance office, word had come that Ed Holt’s little girl was ready to buy a horse of her own.
Mr. Evans fascinated me. He was an older gentleman that time and toil had only tenderized. He owned the largest herd of registered Quarter Horses in the area and that in itself was enough to win my favor. I was very determined that he would not think of me as a little girl nearly 11—but the serious, studious horse buyer I was with my own money sitting in the small town bank across the road. As I sat in his dingy insurance office, with the dated dark wood paneling, I admired his horse portraits on the wall. He had a remarkably kind manner that set my shyness at ease. And he had an old-timey typewriter that I had always wanted for writing stories on. After our horse deal, Mr. Evans and I became good friends. For a few years until his death, I would occasionally go visit him, riding my bike to his office and read through his horse magazines, absorbing all I could.
My parents and I traveled out to look at two prospects that Mr. Evans had recommended for me. He expressed there was a yearling filly with a “baby doll head” and a “flaxen mane and tail”. She was out of one of his best studs who had been struck by lightning. We arrived to the muddy pen and spotted the gelding and filly. The gelding had the blaze, but with a filly, I could raise a foal!
On January 26, 1996, my Dad and I walked into the bank, withdrew $450.00 dollars from my tidy savings and walked across the asphalt to pay Mr. Evans for a little mud splashed American Quarter Horse filly named Aces Jilly. Though a granddaughter of Doc Wilson by Doc Bar, I had little understanding that this was well-bred filly from a cutting horse bloodline.
I hated her registered name and thankfully Dad came up with the nickname “Acey” that just fit. Looking back, the two days waiting for Acey’s delivery seemed about 2 weeks long. I spent that time grooming her pen—to the point all the dirt was raked with even little grooves! And I even etched her name in the wooden gate.
January 28th Acey arrived and really, in a way, my world did begin. We learned together—two youngsters that became a team. Up to my time of riding Acey, I had been a fearful, unbalanced rider—the most unlikely candidate for being a horse enthusiast or riding instructor. With my Dad’s help, I trained Acey to ride and my confidence grew. I finally learned how to ride a lope and gallop without flopping. To my loyal infatuation, Acey was the best, most beautiful, the most correctly made horse ever formed. Then I grew up and began to see Acey was base narrow, refined boned and flat footed, conformational flaws that contributed to her demise. Yet, for years Acey served me well as companion, teacher, pet and comrade for teaching other young riders about horses. When I began teaching riding lessons—Acey was the main lesson horse—everybody’s favorite. She could sense the needs of the rider and was a pleasure to ride.
Acey’s faulty conformation did lead to her injury and chronic lameness in 2007 and finally the heart ache of having to humanely euthanize her in 2008. With Acey’s burial—part of my life seemed to go with her. Yet, looking back, I thank the Lord for giving mankind such gifts in the animal kingdom to enhance our lives. Memories remain: Climbing from her back into a Mimosa tree on a warm Summer day, breezing across a pasture with the wind, galloping down a highway in quest of a runaway horse and giving instructions to my first riding students as Acey gently carried them on her back. These are all priceless tributes to an awkward, clumsy, shy girl’s dream that was fulfilled and that some horses really do contribute to benefitting people.
I did get to raise one foal by Acey. No, he wasn’t sired by Shining Spark, but a handsome homozygous Tobiano American Paint Horse named DJS Caus Ima Rebel. I even witnessed that foaling and was thrilled to find I finally got my first horse with a blaze! And then I sold him as a yearling due to just being swamped with ponies to train and not enough time to focus on Victory’s training—some sentiment, huh?! After not having seen Victory since a yearling—in 2013, I received a picture from his owners. Now a 13 year old, Victory has surpassed both his sire’s height (15.2 h.h.) and dam’s height (14.1 h.h.) by growing to 16.2 h.h.
To this day, January 28th remains a day to remember when the Lord truly did grant a personal, "specific-to-Rebekah" desire of the heart according to Ps. 37:4-5 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
Every year at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, a group of trail blazing men, women, boys and girls gather in the John Justin Arena to compete at the Chisholm Challenge. The Chisholm Challenge competitors are similar to other people you’ll see at horse shows. Young and old—they love horses. Horse and human—they work all year fine tuning an arena presence and horsemanship skills. Visionary and resolute—they dream of the moment when handed the blue ribbon. Though resembling the spirit that embodies true horsemen and women, these Equestrians With Disabilities have to work long and hard to achieve goals by striding beyond the difficulties they face.
The unofficial start of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, the Chisholm Challenge is annually hosted the Monday through Wednesday before the event grounds swarm with maddening activity. While this exhibition offers many typical horse show classes, the Chisholm Challenge is more than your average horse show. It is a venue for riders that wake up every morning with physical, cognitive, and/or emotional challenges. Riders are judged according to their skill, not their disabilities. It is a chance for each rider to set personal goals in working with their horse and achieve them in a safe environment. The show is an opportunity for comradely and fellowship between the EWD riders, friends and family. Above all—the Chisholm Challenge is a real horse show that gives special North Texas exhibitors a place to make history in the world of Equestrians With Disabilities eventing.
A Privileged Encounter
A Christian friend and fellow riding instructor, Amanda Berry and I traveled to watch the 11th annual Chisholm Challenge (January 13-15, 2014). Having attended in 2012, I watched as it was evident riders had improved in their skills and the show was more competitive. While there, I was privileged to meet the Trail Course's judge, Michael Richardson. Having interviewed Mr. Richardson over the phone in 2012, meeting him was no disappointment. Back in 2012, I had asked Mr. Richardson about how this show is judged. “When I’m judging the trail course, I look at the whole picture. I watch the rider’s eyes and see how much they are assisting their horse through the pattern. Are they completing the required movements of the course? I judge for improvement—the way I would want to be judged."
Michael Richardson considers judging for the Chisholm Challenge an honor. January 2014 made it Michael’s 9th year to be a judge for the show. An active horse trainer, clinician and speaker, Mr. Richardson offers a unique perspective when it comes to judging. In 1986, Michael survived a traumatic vehicle accident that nearly ended his life. Though injuries left him paralyzed waist down, this horseman has risen beyond calamity. “My chair doesn’t define who I am. My perspective has created more ability. These Chisholm Challenge riders are no different. They can and do understand that at this show they’re showcasing their abilities to work with a horse. It is important as a judge to take our job and role seriously and remember that this is not a disabled horse show—it is a horse show.”
Michael believes that the Chisholm Challenge will be a template for other EWD shows. “It has already helped create opportunities for these horse people. Even the American Quarter Horse Association started began their first EWD horse show at the Chisholm Challenge.”
Michael Richardson - Video Clip
Meet One of the Competitors: Fort Worth Police Officer
Watching Fort Worth Police Officer Lisa Ramsey ride her horse Cody is a miracle in motion. “I shouldn’t be able to ride like I do. When I ride most people don’t realize that my physical disability is often worse than most of the riders at the show.”
Several years ago, Lisa was shot in the line of duty. The bullet pierced her lung, removing inches of her spine and leaving her paralyzed chest down. Overcoming tragedy, Lisa’s positive outlook has stood the test of time, “People in chairs usually inspire fear in others. They’re so angry about life and unhappy. Who wants to be around people like that? I’m the same person before I was put in this chair—I just move slower. I want people to be happy to see me. Life goes on.” Today, Lisa rides with All Star Equestrian Foundation. Her instructor, Cynthia Amodai co-founded the Chisholm Challenge at its conception. Though severely handicapped, Lisa’s ability to ride without adaptive equipment is astounding! “My muscles just lock into place when I get on a horse—like an able bodied rider. I guess it’s just muscle memory since I used to ride as a young girl.”
For Lisa, the costume drill team is the highlight of the entire horse show. “It is so much fun. When our drill team walked out into the arena—it was a show stopper. One year we dressed the horses like dinosaurs. Everybody was laughing and having a good time. I wait all year for that show. It’s over before I’m ready. I’d really love for there to be more shows like the Chisholm Challenge.”
Indeed--this year, the Costume Drill Classes were the show stopper. Lisa and Cody were part of Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes as Humpty Dumpty and the wall (Cody's part!). Eight Drill teams performed in costume to choreographed drills set to music.
Showcasing that Disabilities Give Opportunity to Possibilities
Horse shows like the Chisholm Challenge fill a need in our society. In the words of one mother of a rider, "As a parent of a special needs, non-verbal son, there are not too many places for my child to shine. At the Chisholm Challenge, I get to watch my son be thrilled over riding in the John Justin arena. It really is a special moment."
EWD shows help showcase the abilities of people that have been born or later in life found themselves with a disability. They help remind our society that people with special needs are people. As the competitors of the Chisholm Challenge illustrate, disabilities give opportunity to possibilities.
As Michael Richardson shared, "The reality is that these riders are just out there to maximize their abilities—not their inabilities. That’s true for all of all horse show competitors. The difference with most people is that we so often dwell on the negative—we don’t look for the positive. But when you see the smiles of the Chisholm Challenge competitors, you’re uplifted. After every Chisholm Challenge, I leave better. I wish more people could experience this.”
How Children Have Enriched My Life Featured
The Lord knows just what we need. And for my life, He knew I needed the enrichment of the next generation in family life and beyond. When thinking of my encounters with freckles, missing teeth, raspy voices or pig tails, I can only exclaim: What a joyful, rich life I have lived with so many little ones about me!! Their trust, adoration, affection, and needs have been effective means of inspiration, encouragement and motivation! And their struggles, fears and—well—even selfishness, have required growth in my walk with the Lord to respond appropriately or find better methods of teaching to guide them as I should. On a whole, young people have been some of the Lord’s instruments to give me purpose, direction, joy, encouragement, and a reason to increase my knowledge and skill development from day to day.
Even eQuest For Truth had its start in working with children and youth. Nearly twelve years ago, I started advertising for riding students. And before long, I had a little troop of “starry eyed” horse lovers arriving each week. Some of my students came from wonderful homes. And quite a few didn’t.
It broke my heart to hear 6-12 year olds share how their Mom was in jail and their Dad was in prison. They were “wise” in “facts of life” that shouldn’t burden the tenderness of their age. It became obvious that the barn, a few horses and wide open spaces provided the setting to introduce Life’s Solution—Jesus Christ—to tomorrow’s men and women. But—I had to “get over” the fact of not feeling comfortable in stepping beyond what I thought was a “professional” boundary. I share the Lord’s work there, in my articles, But Lord I'm a Nobody! and Skillful Weaving - A Testimony.
Children and youth came to me with their questions as we saddled up. "Is a chestnut really a vestigial toe?” “What do you think about homosexuality?” “What do you think about evolution?” “Did horses really evolve?” “What do you think about Human and Chimp DNA similarity?” I was often amazed what ministry opportunities presented themselves while we were grooming a horse!
As I continued to teach riding lessons, I became increasingly aware that there were not any Christian educational horse websites available that were grounded in Biblical literacy (at least from extensive search). The evolutionists had beautiful horse websites filled with “life like” artistic license and sugar coated deceptive drawings of how a little bone could be fleshed out to look like an animal no one ever saw. Most of the horse books for children all taught Darwin’s fallacious theory of eohippus evolving miraculously into equus. I could not warrant misleading them.
God used young people as the inspiration of starting eQuest For Truth. Hopefully, this website will only grow in years to come to be a one-stop-shop for horse education with the six “Fs”—Fantastically Fun Facts Free From Fallacy!
When you hold a delicate treasure you wish to protect it. Considering the gift of children in my life—I can only wish to defend them.
We are surrounded in a culture that increasingly works to remove itself from God’s worth of human life. Every day, in media, in the work place, in the grocery stores—people mock the idea of Biblical family and the dedication and fidelity between a husband and a wife. Children are often shoved aside as inconvenient intruders on career and personal agenda.
As Christians, we need to get God’s view and cherish what He considers a gift. Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Ps. 127:3 (Mark 10:15-16; Ps. 127:3-5; Ps. 139:13-17). We need to value the gift of the womb and protect it. Yet, we also need to stop and think of the lives we encounter each day. Children living today grow into tomorrow’s men and women.
As Christians, we have a duty—regardless if we’re parents or not—to point the next generation to Christ and help them learn of the Lord. None of us are “non-influencers”. We leave an impact by what we say and do and by what we don’t say or do. Silence and indifference also carries a voice and leaves a lingering impression. Yes, the next generation requires training, help getting education and establishment in life—but more than any other priority—the next generation needs to be grounded in Christ in mind, soul and body. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ—all those other “apps” available for "download" to life count for but loss.
America’s 41st anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is approaching on January 22, 2014. It has been said that one out of four children are missing due to America's legalized abortion-on-demand. That is a tragedy. Take a minute and pray for our nation that Pro-life efforts will be strengthened and more lives saved in 2014. Think of the ways you can support parents to teach their children the ways of the Lord. How about supporting an organization like ICR, or Texas Right to Life or Life Decisions International who work to uphold the sanctity of human life? How about investing in some Christian resources to give to young families? Pray for opportunities to get involved--and better yet, do it! Be active!