Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sometimes I thought this day would never come...

There were times when I thought this day would never come.  Some days the longing would be as much as I could stand; on other days, I would almost forget about it.  But never completely.

To feel the wind whistling by,
To hear the rhythmic pounding of hooves,
The feel of powerful muscles surging and rippling under you,
To have the full control over, love and respect of an 800-lb animal that could easily overpower you, but instead obeys your wishes willingly...

It's an amazing thing to train and ride a horse.  I've always thought it would be even more amazing to own one, and now I do!


Her registered name is Acuarela de Benji, affectionately known here as Fannie.  She is a 15 year young Paso Fino, and was a child's show horse.  In fact, she was 4 girls' show horse, but now they are grown, she has come on to live with us.  There is quite a story behind my getting her, and I'd like to write it down now as a testimony to God's goodness and direction in my life.

     Ever since I can remember, I've wanted a horse.  My favorite breeds have changed a few times; for a very long time Arabians were my favorites, then Andalusians, Lusitanos, Mustangs, and so on.  My favorite colors have also changed, usually fluctuating between gray, white and palomino.  But one thing has never changed- my love for horses and desire to own and ride one.  Until I was about 16 I had only ridden a horse by myself twice.  The first time, the horse (a very gentle older mare) was supposed to be grazing while I sat on her back holding her lead rope so she wouldn't step on it.  Instead, after letting her graze a while it entered my rascally little mind to take off trotting across the field, much to the surprise of my grandmother and the horse's owner.  The second time was a trail ride in Tennessee, where we simply followed the leader at a walk for about 45 minutes.
     Then, our neighbor very kindly let Farrah and I begin riding his 1/2 Shetland pony.  Now, not to complain about very stout, older ponies, but Canela was about as mean as a snake.  One of these days I'll get around to posting a video of Farrah riding her through her daily bucking fit.  For the first couple weeks she was good, as long as you stayed out of reach of her teeth, but then she apparently figured out that we were planning to keep on riding her as much as possible, and decided that the best way to discourage us would be to buck us off every day.  Well, we turned out to be able to stick on (most of the time),  but she kept right on trying.  Really though, she might not have naturally been as ornery as she seemed, since we were a bit heavy for her, and she may have been objecting to our weight.  Anyway, eventually her owner sold her, and we were once more without a horse.

      Then in desperation, we turned our attention to our unfortunate heifer, Honey.  We actually got her to respond (sort of) to a halter and go-forward cues, but she inherited her mother's bossy and stubborn temperament, and was quite uncomfortable to ride.
(Sorry for the poor quality here... it's a screenshot from a video.)

     At last, we asked and obtained permission to work with three horses, belonging to the same kind neighbor who owned the pony.
Some of you may remember my blog post about these three.  I won't go into full detail now, but we learned so much taking care of and training them.  Tammy Faye was definitely the most fun to ride, because she was soft in the mouth and (usually) willing to go at a good pace if we I asked her to. 
Galloping Tammy Faye.  This was so much fun, especially once I was able to do it bareback.
It took a long time to get to this point though since she hadn't been ridden for about 5 years, and I don't think she was ever well broken.  During the two years we were able to work with these horses, I learned almost everything I know so far.  Most of this was either gleaned from Perfect Horse magazine, or various online articles and training videos on YouTube.

      And then- we moved...

     First let me say very quickly that I am glad we moved.  I believe it was the Lord's will, and we are so blessed to be close to our church and grandparents.  But we were again without a horse to ride.  Now that I had experienced being able to go work with the horses whenever I wanted to, it was even harder to not have one available.  I was hopeful though that now we had over 20 acres I would be able to prove to Daddy that it wouldn't be too expensive to keep up an animal that size since we had so much grass.  Shortly before my birthday, Mama mentioned that I might be able to have a horse now, and that really got me thinking about it.  Well, of course the thinking was quickly followed by monitoring Craigslist, and daydreaming about horses.  Then one Monday a few weeks ago I spoke to Daddy about it, while coming back from a trip to Ocala.  He still had some concerns about the financial side of keeping a horse- wintering, vet calls, etc.  I discussed it with him for a while, and the subject was dropped as we pulled up to the house.  He was still closed to the idea.

     Later that evening, I started feeling bad that I'd kept pressing him off and on all these years.  I had been listening quite a bit to the series of sermons by Otto Koning, especially "The Pineapple Story", and he really emphasizes the need to give everything we possess, including desires, to God.  As I thought about it, I suddenly realized that this was an area of my life which I had never given to the Lord.  He wants our whole life and being, not just a part of it, but all these years I had been holding onto this dream of owning a horse, even when it was clearly not His will for me to have one.  When I realized that He wanted me to give Him this desire, I really didn't want to.  "What if He doesn't let me have one though, if I give this up to Him?" I thought.  But the thought persisted- "Give it to God... Give it to God!"  So finally I did.  It was harder than I thought it would be to say that if it wasn't His will for me to own a horse, or ever ride again, that was fine, and I'd love and serve Him all the same.  For a couple of days I tried to completely surrender it, but kept "taking it back" until Wednesday, when I felt that I really had given it to Him.  Of course, after this I couldn't exactly keep asking Daddy about getting a horse since it clearly wasn't the Lord's will for me to have one at that time, so I said "Lord, if you ever want me to have a horse, please let Daddy be the one to bring up the subject.  Let him get excited over the idea, and if he has any reservations about it that will be Your sign to me that this isn't Your will."
     That evening at church, a dear lady who has worked with horses all her life asked if she could give me a pair of boots.  I said yes, thank you very much, and before I could catch my breath she whisked off to put them in the van before the service started.  When I looked at them later that night, I immediately saw two things:  1. They were just my size, and 2. they were riding boots.  Hmmm... could this be a sign from the Lord that I'll have a horse soon?

     I mentioned the boots to Mama that night, then went to bed and tried to forget about the whole thing.  You're not supposed to surrender a desire to God then dream about it all night.  :)

     The next Tuesday, Daddy and I were going over to Chiefland to help some friends with a calf.  We hadn't even made it onto the highway when he said to me:  "Alayna, I'm not really against you having a horse."  My heart jumped into my throat.  Of course, the fact that I was driving down a steep hill onto a busy highway may have had something to do with that.  I didn't say much, but he went on to tell me that he was really fine with me getting a horse, as long as it would be rideable, not just a pasture ornament, and as long as I was the one financially responsible for it.  We discussed the subject a bit more on our ride, and when we got home I made a phone call to check on a gelding I'd had my eye on.  He was being tried out by a prospective buyer at the time I made my call, and later calls were never returned, so I realized that he wasn't the one in store for me.
     Then on Friday, I found Fannie.  I actually called about a different horse, but when I heard he was gone, inquired about the bay mare.
     "Oh yes, she's still available" was the answer.  After a couple of phone conversations, in which I asked numerous questions, and some emails, in which I asked more, I was very excited about this mare.  I had made a list of questions and qualifications for potential horses, and she fit every category.  There was one other thing that really got me excited about this one though- we didn't have a good way to transport a horse, and so I asked the Lord to let me know I'd found the right one when the owner was willing to provide free or cheap transportation.  Well, Fannie's owner was not only able to transport her, but wanted to do so.  That night I showed Daddy the emails and pictures, and filled him in on the other information I had about her.  He became very excited about her too, and would frequently refer to her throughout the next week as I waited as patiently as I could for Saturday, when we were all traveling down to Eustis so I could ride her.
     Finally, the day arrived.  Farrah, Savana and Mama knew all about her, but we didn't tell the others until the day before.  As we got ready to go that morning we were all at a high pitch of anticipation.  Before loading up in the van, I pulled up the address on Google Maps so Daddy could plan our route.  It was then I saw that Eustis is almost two hours away.  I was very surprised because one of my first questions when I called about her was to find out how far away her location was from Williston.  The answer was "an hour and 45 minutes", but what I heard was "45 minutes".  If I had known how far away she was, I would probably have ended the conversation right then and there, because I "knew" that Daddy would not be willing to drive almost two hours to see a horse.  All along though he had known exactly where Eustis was and continued on as planned.  God had truly changed his heart about this!

      Meeting Fannie and her owner left us with a very good feeling.  Riding her was amazing, and when we left Daddy was even more excited than I was!  I actually overheard him telling my grandfather that she "is just such a useful little horse".  I wasn't able to afford very much for her, but a good home was more important than money to her owner, and he accepted my offer.  Now ever since making the appointment to ride her on Saturday, I had thought that maybe she could be delivered on Tuesday.  Well, it turned out that the only day of the week that would work for both us and her owner to deliver her would be- Tuesday!

So on Tuesday...
Time of arrival!

There's the truck!

(Justice thinking:)  "Wow, that's a huge trailer!"

She was very calm, and didn't seem fazed at all by the trip.

     We kept quiet about getting Fannie, and a few days later, we surprised Mamaw and Bompa quite a bit...

In case you can't tell, my grin reached from one ear to the other.  :)

Savana took these pictures a few days ago in the pasture.  It's amazing being able to walk out and take a quick ride on my horse.  At first she ignored us as much as possible, and barely tolerated our riding, but now she is getting friendlier and more comfortable with us.  We have been riding her in a rope halter instead of her bridle, since I need more practice learning how to use that kind of bit.

She is so much fun to ride, and really likes to go.  In fact, she was kinda hard to stop at first, but she and we are figuring it out now.

I'm so thankful to the Lord for her, and especially the way He worked everything out so perfectly.  Glory to God!


  1. Wow... what a testimony of the grace of our Lord! Reading of your heart's desire, surrender, and joy in accepting whatever HE brought into your life is such an encouragement. How often it is that when we surrender all to Him, He fills our life with so much more than we could ever have dreamed of, including a stronger faith and love for Him. I rejoice with you, sweet sister, in this new blessing in your life!

  2. Oh, Layna dear...though I've heard the story reading it still made me cry. What an incredible testimony of the Lord's blessing when you wholly surrendered your desire to His will. I'm so excited for you! This testimony was truly more timely and encouraging to me then you'll probably ever know. Thank you for your godly example...I'm reminded afresh of how blessed I am with your friendship. <3 I love you heart and can't wait to see what more of your desires the Lord brings to fruition as you keep living for His glory!