The Hoof Print
Horse News. Christian Living. Equine Education
The Christian Equestrian's Literary "Stamp" in Type
This is great news! Elisabeth Elliot's radio program "Gateway to Joy" is now airing again with Bible Broadcasting Network.
I find myself walking my mother's footsteps in receiving so much from Mrs. Elisabeth Elliot Gren. Her radio programs and books are to the point and like being taught of the older woman as God intended. Through the years, she has helped me out of many a slump of self pity, grief, discouragement and fear of unknowns. Mrs. Gren has challenged me to live a Christianity that is not a fakey ordeal but genuine, approachable and geared toward service.
Yes, Mrs. Elisabeth Elliot Gren's soothy, truthful Biblical message has been so instrumental in my life. I'm delighted to find her radio broadcasts are finally available again.
If encouragement, challenge or just Christian fellowship is needed--then grab your Bible and listen to this dear Christian lady.
My brother just called me to share the results of his day. He told me that my horse Beauty and he had won 2nd place in a Team Roping event with sizable prize money and a fully tooled saddle.
I was thinking of Beauty's progress under my brother's training. Though only a 5 year old, for several years, we didn't think she would ever make a steady Heel horse. Beauty was a little bit flighty and had shown herself capable of great stupidity (e.g. running through a fence, harming herself, being spooky about so much, etc.). However, especially in the last year, Beauty's potential has sky rocketed.
The same was for Flavia, another horse that I started in the principles of riding (like Beauty). My brother bought this filly from me and began her training as a Heel Horse. She was a bit of a renegade. Yet, Flavia is now one of my brother's top athletic horses with all the talent and cow sense you could desire in a Team Roping horse.
In many cases, I was thinking of how given enough time and with consistent training these fillies exceeded our expectations. In our frustration or just disbelief that anything would materialize from going the extra mile with these fillies--we were ready to quit and find us something else. Flavia I tried to practically give away at one point in her training (she reared and would literally squeal at any light leg pressure, ring her tail, etc.). Beauty has also been up for sale in the past.
The turning point of both Beauty and Flavia to becoming money earning contenders is their full submission to their training and their trainer who funneled their raw strengths and abilities into a purposeful plan.
Both began with quirks that had to be managed and worked with. Yet, those obstacles have been overcome. Beauty and Flavia couldn't understand that we wanted them to be Heel Horses--but they had the ability to become such athletes. We were not expecting something they could not achieve. Instead, we could detect their cow sense and agility would enable them to rise to our plans for them (even though we were ready to give up!).
In comparison, I am so thankful the Lord does not give up on us! He knows our full potential with His Sovereign Omnipotence. He understands what we need in our training to achieve what He directs for us to become. I think of how we as Christians can reach our full potential by submitting ourselves to God's training of our lives. Everyone of us goes through daily rigors and all of us can face unknowns. We can't know God's final plan for us at this moment. But the Scriptures say that for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose--ALL things fit into a pattern for good (Romans 8:28).
Though on a much grander scale--the Lord's training of us is something we can achieve. The Bible says that He prepares special works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). It says that He knew us before we were born (Jeremiah 1:5). The Bible tells us that He has a plan and purpose unique to each of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). He does not require more of us than we can achieve--He enables (Philippians 2:13). Yet, "everything-that-God-wants-us-to-be" cannot be reached unless we submit to His direction and are willing to be taken in hand by the Hand that Created us and yoked with Him.
By submitting ourselves to the Lord--we have results! The Bible promises us rest: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Photograph from the public domain
All flowing, fiery curves, the gelding charges across the grass, his ears pricked as the next giant obstacle looms before him. A solid wall standing 1.60m high, it’s a jump that would daunt most horses and petrify most riders – but not this one. The horse seems to take the height as a challenge, and his rider urges him on in the final strides before he tucks up his front legs and leaps. With a flick of his tail, he clears it with a grace that makes it look easy.
Spectators watch with bated breath, listening to the beat of the bay gelding’s hooves as he heads towards the privet hedge. He seems confident, his rider pushing him on and turning him sharply into the fence, but there’s a slight stammer in the rhythm of his feet and he jumps awkwardly. Horseflesh thumps on wood. With a rattle and a thump, the rail falls and the crowd groans. But for the horse and rider, there is no time for dismay. They’re headed straight for the Devil’s Dyke, a jump they’ve already knocked down once today. If they don’t clear it, the competition is lost.
The rider encourages his horse with every stirring of his legs against the gelding’s sides, desperate to make it, but the horse doesn’t hesitate. He tosses up his head and charges, the power of his strides screaming his refusal to make the same mistake again. Giant muscles bunch under his sleek coat and he leaps. Hearts stop, and for a moment the horse seems to float above the high rail over the ditch of water as he attempts to clear both in one leap.
And he does.
The crowd roars. The horse plunges joyously away from the newly conquered obstacle and now there is no stopping him. Fence after mighty fence are left behind; he eats up the ground, swinging left, then right at the expert guidance of his rider. At last, he gallops through the finish and all eyes turn to the board where their time will be displayed: 85.17 seconds. 0.02 seconds faster than their closest competition. As the horse slows to a triumphant trot, his rider falls on his neck, hugging him, rejoicing.
Later, they stand in the winner’s circle, accepting the beautiful trophy that tells the world that Irishman Trevor Breen and the Belgian warmblood Adventure de Kannan have just won the British Jumping Derby, informally known as the Hickstead Derby, arguably the most prestigious single showjumping event in the world. Draped with flowers and showered with applause, the gelding stands proudly beside his rider. Every inch of him glows; his bay coat shines copper in the sun, muscles filling his outline with power. He is perfect in every way, except for one thing. As he turns his head from side to side, only one bright brown eye looks out of his noble face. On the other side, there is nothing – just a dark and empty socket where his right eye should be.
Interviewers ask Trevor Breen what it is that makes Adventure de Kannan so special. How did he become the first one-eyed horse ever to win the Derby?
Breen doesn’t miss a beat. “His heart,” he says instantly. According to him, it was Adventure de Kannan’s courage, will to win, and willingness to do anything his rider asks of him that makes him “a phenomenal horse, the horse of a lifetime”. Talented as he is, “Addy” would never have made it through all the setbacks that he did – losing his eye to surgery following an infection in 2013, an injured suspensory ligament not long afterwards, and a kick in the warmup ring only the previous day – without his inner qualities.
It is proven once again that it’s heart, above all else, that makes a truly special horse.
This is true not only for horses. How many of us know of people we deem more beautiful than we are? And upon what do we base our assumptions? We allow ourselves to feel inferior to people who are thinner or richer or better dressed than we are, people with the right hairdo and the right skin tone and the right job and the right education, without realising that we are all beautiful – fearfully and wonderfully made by the love of God (see Psalm 139:14). And it is more than just physical beauty or great circumstances that makes one special. For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Deeper things than beauty or opportunities make one special. Meekness, faith, gentleness, courage, kindness, hope, love above all – anything that is a part of Jesus’s perfect example to us – these are what really matter. The truest beauty of a human being lies in a redeemed soul filled with Jesus Christ.
Just like Adventure de Kannan, whose guts and generosity helped him to win the Hickstead Derby despite his scars, his handicap and the disfigurement of that gaping hole in his face, you can triumph over any obstacle that stands in your way, by the grace of God. He will fill you with everything you need not only to survive, but to thrive. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7). You can do all things through Christ, your strength (Philippians 4:13).
Glory to the King.
Goliath--the most enormous black Perceron I've ever stood beside--just died July 3rd.
According to the article:
Goliath, the 2005 Guinness Book of World Record holder for Tallest Living Horse, passed away peacefully July 3, 2014 on the Priefert Ranch in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Goliath was an awe striking black Percheron gelding who stood 19.1 hands high and weighed over 2500lbs. He was superstar and legend in his own right.
Bill Priefert purchased Goliath, along with five other Percherons, that made up Priefert’s “Texas Thunder” Hitch. Goliath and the team traveled 40,000- 60,000 miles a year, exhibiting at over 100 rodeos, parades, fairs, and equine events each year. After becoming a Gunniess World Record title holder, Goliath traveled solo, making countless stops at Priefert Dealers and Priefert-sponsored events across the country.
Not too often do we meet horses that make the "big time!"
Goliath was just one of many remarkable draft horses owned by the Prieferts. When teaching riding lessons, I had called and asked if I could bring a group of students on a field trip to meet Radar and Goliath. Priefert at that time, owned the World's Tallest Living Horses--Radar and Goliath. Radar had beat Goliath's height of 19.1 h.h. by 2 inches (19.3 h.h.), claiming the Tallest Living Horse title until 2010 when another horse, named Big Jake won the title with a remarkable 20.2 h.h.
Thinking back, Goliath was decidedly handsome--but I marveled how short his neck was! He looked so comical as he reached down to nibble grass, having to spread his front legs to get his head low enough to reach for the grass! Docile and mannerly, Goliath entertained my students and I as we clamored to pet him. His handler spent so much time with us, sharing tidbits about Goliath and Radar's diets, habits and daily routine. They were very well cared for, with roomy paddocks and custom made stalls (made by Priefert products, of course!). They even had a remarkable walker suited just for their enormous size!
Great memories! And a great horse!
Of course, I took an abundance of pictures. Here's a few from that memorable day:
Our field trip group back in 2006! WOW! That was 8 years ago! I'm kneeling down in the front. It will always be a favorite memory!
Photos from the public domain
True Prospect Farm, Memorial Day, 2011. The stables are on fire.
Boyd Martin sprints towards the flaming stable, his ears filled with the screams of burning horses. His world is chaotic with smoke and sirens. Firemen, family members, the barn owner – their faces blur as he staggers into the yard and stares. Nothing matters except for the fire, and the terrible shrieks of the dying horses inside.
Martin knows and loves those horses; he’s trained them, ridden them and competed on them for years as an international event rider, arguably the best in the USA. He spins around, looking at the charred and frightened horses that have already been dragged into the yard, and knows that many of them are still in there. The firemen are too mindful of the flames to do more than direct jets of water from the fire engines onto the burning stable.
But even though he knows better, Martin can’t just stand there. He dashes towards the fire. Firemen try to stop him, but his mind is filled with his friends the horses, and he shoves them aside as he staggers into the bellowing furnace that the familiar stable has become. Smoke clogs his lungs, sets his eyes to streaming; he throws up a hand to shield his face from the heat that starts to singe his skin. He can’t call out. He can hardly breathe. But he hears a gurgling sound nearby, a noise that barely resembles the breathing of a horse, and moves towards it. Careening into a stable door, he can barely make out the dark form of a horse through the smoke. He kicks the door open and stumbles into something muscular and living. Running his hands up the horse’s neck, his fingers find an anti-cribbing collar and instantly he is taken back nine years to the day he first set eyes on Neville Bardos.
Stables of Gordon Bishop, 2002. “This horse,” Bishop announces disdainfully, “is no good as a jumper.”
Martin doesn’t reply, watching thoughtfully as the horse moves across the arena with his long, gawky stride. He looks every inch what he is – an adolescent: only three years old, the gelding barely knows where his long legs end. Freshly off the racetrack, the chestnut thoroughbred stands a gangly 16.1 hands and none of them are working together. His rider tries to kick and pull him into order, but he just sets his teeth against the bit, flattens his ears and does what he wants, rolling a rebellious, white-rimmed eye. When he comes towards Martin, the long crooked blaze down his face makes his head look like the nose is on skew.
The rider tries to make him stop. The horse puts his head down and keeps going. The rider pulls with all his might, and eventually the horse flops to a halt with his head in the air, still rolling that fiery eye.
“No, no, no, and no!” the rider cries, jumping off the horse and tossing his reins at Bishop. “I’m not buying this.” With that, he stalks off.
“That’s it.” Bishop gives the horse a glare. “It’s the glue factory for you, Neville Bardos.”
Martin, who has been looking quietly into the horse’s eyes, says, “I’ll give you eight fifty.”
He nearly regretted spending that $850, too. At Neville’s first event, he’d thrown Martin’s wife, Silva, by the second fence and held up the course for fifteen minutes while they tried to catch him. He was hot and lively and opinionated; he had to wear a cribbing collar because he windsucked continuously. But with Martin in the saddle, things changed. By 2011, Neville had competed at many prestigious CCI**** events and had been shortlisted for the Beijing Olympics. Burghley Horse Trials in England, one of the toughest events in the entire equestrian world, was the next step.
But here, in this burning stable, Burghley seems very far away. There is only smoke, and heat, and the terrible gasping rattle of Neville’s breathing. Martin tugs on the cribbing collar, croaking out encouragement, but the horse can barely stay on his feet, let alone walk. He sways where he stands, each breath sounding like it may be his last.
Then, out of the smoke, a pale face emerges: Olympian Phillip Dutton, Martin’s trainer and the barn owner. “Pull his head that way!” Dutton croaks, putting his arm around Neville’s chest. Martin pulls, trying to force his burning throat into forming words of reassurance, and Dutton urges Neville on. The horse takes a staggering step, then another. The two choking men and terrified horse reel down the aisle, leaning on one another, and fighting for every step.
At last the sweetness of fresh air fills Martin’s lungs and he lets go of the collar, letting Neville wobble away from the flames. Martin tries to go back to the stable for another of the six horses still inside, but smoke makes his head spin and he only just makes it back out onto the yard, where he sprawls on the grass and groans for air. Nearby, Neville Bardos stands with his legs straddled, fighting to stay upright. Later, vets will say that with the levels of oxygen in Neville’s bloodstream as low as they were, he should never have been on his feet; but on his feet he was, and on his feet he stayed as they rushed him to veterinary hospital. Martin would stand amazed as his horse continued to stand, to eat, to windsuck, and to fight for his life.
By the grace of God, no humans were severely injured. But six horses’ lives had been lost to the inferno. And for a while vets and trainers feared that Neville would become the seventh horse to die. His windpipe had been charred to the point of bleeding; just breathing was agony, let alone moving around. Martin doubted the horse would ever compete again, and gave up his dreams of Burghley, which would take place just weeks later.
But with the aid of a high-oxygen chamber, Neville healed at an astounding rate. Soon, boredom started to chafe at the horse’s nerves and Martin decided to ride him; Neville loved it, and improved at such a rapid pace that suddenly Burghley didn’t look so far away after all.
It wasn’t. Neville would go on to compete at Burghley Horse Trials in September, only seventeen weeks after the devastating fire. Not only did he and Martin compete, but they completed a clear round across country and ended up placing seventh overall. In January 2012, Neville Bardos would be named USEF’s 2011 Horse of the Year. It was generally agreed that this was a well-deserved accolade.
If this was not a true story, it would be deemed impossible for a horse so badly injured to bounce back so quickly and completely that he could compete at one of the most taxing events in the equestrian world. Neville was more than hurt, he was dying; it was enough to kill most horses, and it was fully expected that he would retire from competition. And yet months later he was as fit, strong, and well as he had ever been.
The success has been attributed to many things – Neville’s courage, the expert care of the vets, the oxygen chamber. And though these doubtlessly played a role, it was God’s amazing design of the horse’s system and the natural healing process that did the most. More than that, it was His plan. The Lord can do anything He chooses; nothing is too big or too hard or too unlikely for Him (Jer. 32:17). The healing of a sick horse is but a little miracle compared to what He can do. Today, Neville Bardos stands as a shining example of the fact that with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).
Glory to the King.