Saddle Up


I was born with a love of horses. My dad always had at least two horses in the barn so I didn’t really grow up with any fear of them. When you were old enough to walk you were old enough to ride. But even before then I would spend countless hours tending to them right at his side; feeding, grooming, training. I have often felt the barn was my dad’s form of church and horses were his way of worship. So, it is no wonder I often find myself caught up in the beauty of their free spirit.

Being as diligent and protective with his animals as he was, it is no wonder he would not let you go off and ride alone until you could saddle by yourself. This wasn’t just for the riders protection, but also for the horses. Horses are not mean by nature, it’s usually circumstances that bring those characteristics out; but they are smart, powerful animals who require someone to harness and control all of that. So why would saddling by yourself be a requirement? Saddling a horse the right way would ensure you the best opportunity to take control in the safest possible way.

At a very early age I wanted to ride on my own, without a lead rope or chaperone, and knew I was a little ways away from that. So I found a way to make it possible. One day I told my dad I wanted to ride out in the arena by myself knowing full well what he would say, “When you can saddle one, you can ride one.” I looked him square in the eye and told him, “I can!” and his response, “Well, get to it then.”


With those words I grabbed the halter and went to Joker’s stall. I walked in, Joker dipped his head so I could halter him and I led him to the trailer. He wasn’t one to wander off so I threw the lead rope over the back of the trailer and headed to the tack shed for my gear. One piece at a time; I laid it all on the wheel-well of the horse trailer.

Once it was all there I led Joker up to the side of the trailer, where I had placed the tack, as close as I could get him. Then I jumped up on the wheel-well and started my task; one layer at a time; as my dad just leaned against the back of the truck watching and smiling. Often times gently shaking his head back and forth, which meant “try again” or a simple nod that read “good job”.

As this flood of memories comes rushing back I can’t help but miss my dad’s lean, but more than that I find myself smiling at just how smart he really was. The real lesson of saddling was lost on such a small little girl, but as a grown woman I can now appreciate the wisdom bestowed.
From that one saddling session I learned several key legacy lessons for life, but today we’ll just start with this one…

Don’t let other people do for you what you can do for yourself.

My dad was always concerned about the safety of horse and rider. By being able to saddle for yourself you put the responsibility of your safety and the horse’s safety in your own hands.

It’s like that in life too. When we depend on others to do things for us we are basically putting our safety or desired outcome in the hands of someone else. After doing this enough times we will lose our ability to think and make decisions on our own, being easily led astray.

It would have been easier for my Dad to have done it for me. In doing so it would have given him the peace in knowing we would both be safe, but he also knew I would never gain the confidence, courage and wisdom needed to grow into this new role. The role of ownership.

He knew that if I was willing to take what had been laid out before me as the correct way and make it my own I would understand the importance of observing, learning and following instruction. Which is exactly what the Father gave us in Jesus. Father wants us to observe how Jesus did life. Observe how He interacted and related with those around Him. Ultimately living a life of following His instruction.

I love how 1 John 2:24-27 and 1 John 3:7 read in The Message bible.

Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life! I’ve written to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. But they’re no match for what is embedded deeply within you—Christ’s anointing, no less! You don’t need any of their so-called teaching. Christ’s anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught.
1 John 2:24-27

So, my dear children, don’t let anyone divert you from the truth. It’s the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah.
1 John 3:7

Most times people are well intentioned, but if you have already been taught by a Master saddler, you shouldn’t give the anointing you have received away for any reason. And that was what my Dad was doing for me. He was teaching me how to do it right; so that when it came time for me ride this trail without him I wouldn’t have any doubts about how it needed to be done.

This is part of series honoring my dad called “The LESSONS of a Cowboy”


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