About three and a half years ago, after I’d been taking riding lessons for a while, I really wanted my own horse.
But my parents didn’t agree it was the right time to have one.
My aunt called my parents and told them about a retired racehorse that she absolutely loved. She told them that her friend was interested in finding a good home for that horse. His name? Windward Passage. My aunt’s friend, however, didn’t want to give the horse to just anyone. He wanted the horse to go to a young rider because the horse was so gentle and calm. When my aunt and my cousin heard this, they’d immediately thought of me.
As my parents prayed about it, they decided that it would be a good life-lesson in responsibility for me to own my own horse. A few nights later, as I was on my way to the movies with a couple of friends, my parents brought up the subject. They told me how my aunt had called and talked to them about the horse. I was so excited! My parents also brought up some conditions that I had to agree to in order to be able to keep the horse. I needed to pay half of the board fee, and there were a few other conditions as well. On my way home from the movies, I knew if it was a right idea, it would be right in all areas, and I would be able to work things out. In the Bible it says, “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28). When I got home, I had two calls asking me to baby-sit. (Ever since, I have always earned the money to pay my horse’s board.)
Exactly one week after Windward Passage’s (Windy’s) last race, he arrived at the barn. When the farrier came to shoe him, we found out that he had a hoof problem. Windy’s hooves were deteriorating each day. I was told to stop riding him for a while.
I immediately knew that God doesn’t give a gift just to take it away. I’d learned as a little kid that there “is no spot where God is not.” So there could not be this magnificent racehorse that was God’s creation with weak spots on his hooves where God wasn’t loving him and protecting him. I didn’t ride Windy that week, but visited the barn every day, bringing him treats and praying. My parents helped, too.
The farrier came about a week later. At that point, Windy could walk around better. The farrier looked at Windy’s hooves and was surprised to see that they looked healthy; he said this kind of improvement was something he hadn’t seen before. He asked me what I’d been doing, and I explained I’d prayed for Windy. “Keep it up!” he said. The healing was quick and complete, and there’s never been a recurrence. Actually, Windy’s hooves grow really quickly now!
In those first six months I had him, I took Windy on trails, played polo with him, walked him, trotted and cantered him, and even galloped with him. He learned so much. Then during the spring Windy started going through this phase of being rebellious and didn’t really feel like doing what I asked. He would buck and rear and kick out and kind of throw temper tantrums. I started praying about how he was a creation of God and was not a rebellious horse. My trainer and I worked with Windy every day, and I prayed every day to know that God would tell me the steps to take to help Windy realize his full potential. Pretty soon, he was acting very calmly and obediently, and was back to his sweet and normal self—the horse God created.
Up to this point, I’d been boarding Windy at a barn about 25 miles away from my house, but I wanted to be able to ride him more regularly and to have a more active role in feeding and caring for him on a daily basis. Again, my mom and I prayed about knowing that every single step in owning this horse had worked out under God’s direction, and that God would guide us in finding a barn to board at that fit our needs.
Then one day we heard of a barn that was owned by my friend Kara’s parents. I could ride the bus there after school, ride Windy every day, and help with the upkeep of the barn as well. The additional bonus was that I could ride every day with my friend.
The farrier asked me what I’d been doing, and I explained I’d prayed for Windy. “Keep it up!” he said.
One day, Kara and I took our horses on a trail ride to nearby Silver Lake, because the weather was just starting to feel like spring. We were sitting on the sand near the lake just talking, holding the horses’ reins and letting them eat grass, when something spooked the horses. They both took off running.
Thankfully, Kara’s horse, Midnight, got caught in the reins and stopped, but Windy just kept running. Kara and I both hopped on Midnight and took off after Windy. We galloped through the woods, but lost track of him. I was so panicked and scared. It was starting to get dark, and a light snow flurry had just started, so I worried about him in the snow. We searched for him for nearly an hour. I called Kara’s mom and my parents, and then the thought came to me “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).
I started praying. And Kara, who’s Catholic, started praying, too. We just stopped and became still. I could feel God’s presence with me. I started thinking about that week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson and this Bible passage: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5, 6). I knew that God guides, guards, and governs us, and that Windy could be receptive to that guidance and direction as well.
Suddenly, Kara’s mom called me and said that a neighbor of theirs had seen and caught Windy in one of their fields. He had been trying to run home, and was almost there, too, but they stopped him from crossing a busy street. All I could do was just stop and be grateful, and then gallop with Kara as quickly as possible to get my horse.
Every day Windy and I are learning lessons together, but owning him has really made me rely on my understanding of Christian Science and truly understand my relationship to God—how important it is to prayerfully protect both Windy and myself each day.
Tori Raine is a junior in high school and loves horseback riding. She wants to be a professional chef.
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