Guest Post: The Horse and Her Boy – David Roper

IMG_20151104_150856_edit“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

My father raised cutting horses, among other things. Consequently I grew up working around horses most of my young life. Unlike my sister, however, who raises Tennessee Walkers these days, I left home with a firm conviction: I will never own a horse! For me, they represented nothing but hard work.

I must say, however, that horses are magnificent creatures. In my opinion they excel other animals in beauty, strength and elegance. I often stop as I drive through this land and watch them grazing a pasture. I almost always think of Dixie, my first and only horse.

When I was about 6 or 7 years old my father decided that I needed a horse of my own to care for and so bought an old bay mare and brought her home to me. She was about 20 years old when he purchased her and lived for four or five years after. For some forgotten reason I named her Dixie.

She was a formidable beast for me at my age and with my small stature. The only way I could climb aboard was to lead her to a corral fence and climb it like a ladder. No saddle was small enough, nor stirrups short enough for my legs so I rode bareback most the time.

Dixie was plump which meant that my feet stuck straight out in both directions, which also meant that I had difficulty staying astride. Her only gait—at least the only one I could get out of her—was a hard, bone-jarring trot that unseated me more times than I can count. Whenever I fell off, however, Dixie would simply stop, look balefully at me, and wait while I tried to climb on her back again—which leads me to Dixie’s most admirable trait: she was wonderfully patient.

I’m ashamed to say that I felt no benevolent whatever toward Dixie. I grumbled my way through the ritual of swamping out her stall., feeding, watering, currying her and doing all the other chores my father expected of me. Quite often I took out my resentment on Dixie, shoving her away when she leaned on me, whacking her with a brush or curry comb when she accidentally stepped on my toes, being less than gentle when I combed the cockleburs out of her mane and tail. Yet Dixie bore my childish tantrums with stoic patience, never once retaliating in kind. She was indeed a noble creature. Horses “are among those that come into Aslan’s country after the judgment,” C.S Lewis said. If so, I know I’ll find Dixie there

I wish I could be more like Dixie, for she was the personification of what I most long for these days: a patience that overlooks a multitude of offenses.

Impatience is a malady of the elderly, I think—not unique to us certainly, but one to which we most easily fall prey. Frustration over our own troubles and the orneriness of others can make us crotchety and ill-tempered. I have to ask myself, “How do I respond when others aggravate me? Do I respond with patience and sweetness of spirit, or do I react with intolerance and ire?”

To overlook an offense. To forgive seventy-times-seven. To bear with human frailty and failure. To show mercy and kindness to those who exasperate me. To gain such control over my soul… This is the work of God.


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6 Responses to Guest Post: The Horse and Her Boy – David Roper

  1. Sandie says:

    This brought tears to my eyes as I remembered all the dogs I have owned – and lost to age and/or disease over the years. My impatience bordering on cruelty when I was immature and thinking only of myself – never realizing that in addition to shortchanging this loving animal, I was losing out too. My last German Shepherd, that I lost to cancer last year at the age of 12, showed how much I had matured when I first brought him home at 10 wks. old – and how much I continued to mature (at least in the sphere of dog-training and ownership) for the rest of his life. He was everything a GSD was bred to be and a pleasure and comfort to be around – even to those who feared big dogs (and at 115 lbs. in his prime, he WAS big!) In all his years he never once snarled… or bit, even in play. As I have gotten older I have tried to allow God to gentle me and train me to His way of thinking and doing things. I’d like to train one more pup before I get too old to do it. Meanwhile, I try to live up to one of the stickers adorning my motorcycle helmet…”Lord, please help me to be the person my dog thinks I am.” My Duncan lived for me…the way I should be living for God.

  2. I can see this in my elderly mom now. Nothing makes her happy. I often pray that God will help me to help her have a good time, or a good day, etc. Then I also see this in myself when dealing with her and getting frustrated. I know God is taking all the prior training He’s given me and saying, “you know what to do, I have taught you, just go do it”. Boy, easier said than done!

  3. Mark Seguin says:

    Big thx David this one spoke right to my heart! I needed to read this & remember it too…. 🙂

  4. TimC says:

    David: Alright, now you’ve gone from preachin’ to meddlin’.

    Thanks, I needed that.

  5. Lloyd Huff says:

    Dave, Thank you for your exhortation to be a man of God and to carry in us a “sweetness of spirit ”
    To be a fragrance that would draw others to Christ through us.
    Lastly, thank you for your encouragement over the years. Iam sure you would not remember me but when you were at PBC in the early 70’s and I was a teenager you were a great encourager to me and someone I admired and wanted to become like. No doubt it was “Jesus in you” . Thank you for your example. Your brother in Christ.- Lloyd Huff

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