Broken horses and broken hearts

By Janet Walgren
Whenever people gather and begin to discuss topics that they feel passionate about, each thinking that they totally understand the topic, each coming from diverse educational, cultural and spiritual backgrounds, each having experiences in different paradigms, the resulting conversation oft times becomes lively, engaging and even amusing. I call these conversations taleidoscope conversations because each person is viewing the same concept or object through the reflection in their own unique taleidoscope’s mirrors. I love these conversations; a person with a careful ear and a willing heart can learn a lot in the listening. One can even learn to know and understand the “Word” or view the world in totally different and very interesting ways.

I recently heard a man talking about about horses. Now I’m not an equestrian. Actually I know relatively little about horses. I know that they are animals possessing four legs and and that you pet the head end and stay away from the tail end. I know that they eat oats and that you don’t need a key to start them. I know that you use spurs instead of a gas pedal to make them go and that they can be quite useful at times especially when you run out of gas or road.

Anyway, being a curious sort of person, when I heard the man talking about horses, my interest was aroused. First he was talking about wild horses. I love wild horses. I have seen movies of wild horses running across the desert being chased by cowboys… the horses were magnificent. What did he say? Wild horses are dangerous? Well they didn’t look dangerous in the movies. Next he started talking about horses born in captivity that haven’t been trained. He said that they are self-willed and not good for anything useful.  Then he explained a little about the process of breaking a horse. Breaking a horse??? My imagination takes a side trip… Doesn’t Webster’s Dictionary definine the word “break or broken” as:

  1. violently separated into parts: shattered
  2. damaged or altered by breaking: as having undergone or been subjected to fracture 
  3. land surfaces: being irregular, interrupted, or full of obstacles
  4. violated by transgression <a ~promise> 
  5. discontinuous, interrupted… made weak or infirm
  6. subdued completely : crushed <~spirit>
  7. bankrupt
  8. reduced in rank 
  9. cut off: disconnected

Coming back to reality I realize that by now the horse is broken. Oh no! I missed the process…  

 When a horse is newly trained but somewhat unpredictable, the horse is referred to as “green broke.” A green broke horse will either become submissive and  fully broke with practice, or it will learn that if it resists being bridled and causes enough trouble for its rider, its rider will eventually go away.

What was that he said about a bridle? My mind wandered again…

Webster’s Dictionary has two sets of definitions for the word “bridle.” The first definition deals with an object:

  1. the headgear with which a horse is governed and which carries a bit and reins.
  2. a strip of metal joining two parts of a machine esp. for restraining motion…

The second definition is concerning action or doing:

  1. to put a bridle on
  2. to restrain, check or control with or as if with a bridle
  3. to get or keep under restraint <you must learn to bridle your tongue>
  4. to show hostility or resentment (as to an affront to ones pride or dignity) by drawing back the head and chin…

I can picture reins and a bit fastened to a bridle. Back to his story… He is now talking about a fully broke horse, one that is submissive and has learned to become one with its rider. This time I’m paying attention…

A fully broke horse will gallop, trot or cantor at its rider’s command. It will turn to the right or the left with only the slightest movement of the reigns. It can be taught highly advanced skills by its trainer, somewhat like becoming a highly skilled athlete even an Olympian. Such a horse is very useful as it submits to its rider who has neither bridle, bit or reins. And interestingly enough both horse and rider have a lot of fun performing together. Very interesting, but now it is time to go to Sunday School Class…

The teacher poses a question. “What does it mean to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? What does it mean to bridle our tongues?”

Could it be that the Lord wants us to be like the fully broke horse, spirited, useful, capable, strong, but with a heart willing to submit to God, a heart that is “fully broke,” a heart willing to allow God to place a bridle on us so that we become one with the Lord?

3 Responses to Broken horses and broken hearts

  1. Jeff McKenna says:

    I loved this article! It was exactly what I was searching for when I did my google search. I am teaching a large group of youth about the need to follow God’s will and how they can help their friends follow God’s will. I am convinced this only comes through a change of heart. This comes with a broken heart. With such a change and commitment to Christ, a young man or young women can become “steadfast and immovable”.

    Thanks so much for this article!

    Jeff M.

  2. Thanks Jeff and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you liked it. It was a fun thing to realize and visualize the concept. I hope that your lesson went well.

    If you spend much time teaching large groups of teenagers perhaps you would like to read one of my posts on dating called The Job interview. Here is the link:

  3. shirley says:

    ..Hi. stumbled on your article.well put with a similar ideas/mind process I have had about horses!! and the parallel to our humanity and will. Loved it. 🙂

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