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Time is flying faster……

January 2, 2014

…. than I can keep up with.

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I can not remember a time when I have been this busy.   During most of 2013 I found myself chasing after  time to try to catch up, only to find myself in a losing battle….

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There are a few things of 2013 that I would like to share, so I will be taking the next couple of weeks to cover a few of my personal highlights from the year.

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The winter of 2013 was a beautiful one, full of gorgeous snowy days.  Our herd of horses will often choose to stay out in the snow as long as it is not horribly cold.  (In keeping our horses in as natural of an environment as possible, they have 24/7 access to the 15+ acres of pasture with a free flowing creek that runs through it.  There are plenty of trees for shade in the summer and cover from the elements of winter.  One of our barns is also open at all times for the horses to come in as well.  They will typically come in to the barn in the heat of the day during the summer months.  The shade of the barn keeps them cooler and also keeps the biting flies away.)

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Ember has always loved the snow.  She has a playful spirit that can be quite contagious!

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Image and Lady Gray continued on with their interesting love/hate relationship.  They can not stand to be apart, yet sometimes that closeness is too much.

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Then one or both of them will protest that closeness.  If they were children, I could easily hear them saying “Mom! He looked at me!” or “Mom!  She touched me!”  But that would be anthropomorphic……

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Up to this point, Lady Gray held the number two position in ranking among our herd, with Abi holding firmly to her alpha position and Image coming in at number three.  Image continually badgered Lady Gray about her number 2 ranking.  Then one day in the Spring, they had one of their love/hate tiffs.  Only this time, Image was a little stronger and a little more determined.  All it took was Lady Gray taking one step back from Image for him to have gained that dominance of status over her in their small herd.  It was no small victory for Image, considering he had been working towards this moment for two years.  He continued to hold his status above her.  All was quiet as they went back to grazing next to one another…..

We did not see what led up to it, but in the fall of 2013,  Lady Gray was once again calling the shots with Image.  She lays her ears back and swings her head around towards him, even if he just looks at her!  Poor Image…..  What’s a guy to do in a herd with four mares?  He has been keeping his distance from her!

Even with Image and Lady Gray’s relationship still rocky and unsettled, it has been a thrill to see Image grow and blossom since he has been with us.  I love that he and Ember still love to run and play with each other.  Sometimes Image will be the one to start the running and playing.  Of course Ember does not need any encouragement to play!

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Ember and I continue to blossom in our relationship with one another.

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I have even been able to sneak in some undemanding time with Lady Gray.

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I am looking forward to what this new year brings as we all continue building our relationships.

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Until We Meet Again……

December 27, 2013

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Last week, my husband’s older mare Touchy died quietly in her sleep.  Terry had rescued her from an abusive situation over 30 years ago when she just four years old.  They spent many years together, soothing each others hurts, as only dear friends can do.

Don’t Cry for the Horses
By Brenda Riley-Seymore 

 Don’t cry for the horses
That life has set free
A million white horses
Forever to be

Don’t cry for the horses
Now in God’s hands
As they dance and they prance
To a heavenly band

They were ours as a gift
But never to keep
As they close their eyes
Forever to sleep

Their spirits unbound
On silver wings they fly
A million white horses
Against the blue sky

Look up into heaven
You’ll see them above
The horses we lost
The horses we loved

Manes and tails flowing
They Gallop through time
They were never yours
They were never mine

Don’t cry for the horses
They will be back someday
When our time has come
They will show us the way

On silver wings they will lift us
To the warmth of the sun
When our life is over
And eternity has begun

We will jump the sun
And dance over the moon
A Ballet of horses and riders
on the winds
to a heavenly tune

Do you hear that soft nicker
Close to your ear?
Don’t cry for the horses
Love the ones that are here

Don’t cry for the horses
Lift up your sad eyes
Can’t you see them
As they fly by?

A million white horses
Free from hunger and pain
Their spirits set free
Until we ride again

TerryTouchy2012

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In the Quiet of a Moment

January 8, 2013

I have longed for the day I would be writing this journal entry…..

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Our summer months were very hot and dry with very little relief from the sun that beat down relentlessly.  I found myself perspiring just standing still in the shade.  I knew if I was miserable, the horses probably were too.  It was the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with them.

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If you have been following my journal entries, you will know that Ember and I have had a somewhat rocky relationship since we brought her home from her Montana wilderness.  Days filled with many ups and downs.  Some days it would seem like she was happy and content with me, while other days she really didn’t want anything to do with me.  I have to admit that it was hard not to take it all personally.  But I was looking through human eyes.  When in fact, I should have been looking at our relationship through Ember’s eyes……  It truly has nothing to do with whether Ember likes me or not!  It does, however, have everything to do with how safe and secure Ember feels when she is around me.  She had shown clear signs that she did not always view me as her leader.  (I really was not surprised since I have only just recently learned more about how to become an effective leader.)  Instead of getting all frustrated by the fact that I was not a good leader for her, I decided to find out how I can become a leader who will cause Ember to feel safe and secure.  I need to back up a bit.  At that point, our relationship was not bad.  As a matter of fact, some folks who have a similar relationship with their horses that I had at that time with Ember would be enough for them and they would be content.

But I wanted more…….

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As I continued to pursue Parelli’s Natural Horsemanship (PNH) way of interacting with horses, I learned that Ember’s Horsenality (the characteristics that make a horse a unique individual) is a Right Brain Extrovert/Introvert (RBE/I).  She is more extroverted in the winter and more introverted in the summer.  I am a Right Brain Introvert.  All of those times I have said that Ember is a mirror to my inner most being is really true!  She and I are very much alike in how we approach and handle the different situations we find ourselves in.

Here is a chart of what her characteristics looked like at the end of May, 2012.  We had just come off of winter, so her extroverted tendencies were pretty high.  (I will share what her chart looks like now in my next Journal Entry.  Yes, it has changed!  I will also share a little more about what this chart means.)

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It was time to really get to know this special girl.  We took advantage of the hot summer months to just get to know one another better.  As RBI’s, we both need a LOT of undemanding time to get to know new friends and form deeper bonds and relationships.  Up to this point, all I had been doing with Ember was asking, asking, asking…..  (Oh, if only I could go back and do some things over again.   But since I can’t, I will learn from past experiences and move forward)

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working on Embers itchy areas

Our undemanding time spent together consisted of just hanging out.  Sometimes I would touch her, sometimes not.  It was very important for her to know that I was not asking anything of her.  Sometimes I would just lay my arm across her back.  If she started to walk off, I stayed with her, with my arm still on her back, asking nothing.  Just being in her presence.

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While spending this precious time together, I had many opportunities to show Ember that I would do all that I could to protect her and the space surrounding her.  Image was not very happy when I spent this kind of time with Ember.  He had a tendency to come to Ember’s side that was opposite from me and try to nip her back legs to get her to move away so he could have me all to himself…..  As flattering as it was that Image wanted me all to himself, I did not allow that to happen.  I stayed true to what my purpose was: spending this quality time with my girl.  It became very important for Ember to see me defending her space.  As the summer days wore on, I could start to see Ember coming a little closer, staying a little longer.  She and I were starting to connect on a level that truly warms my heart.

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As the temperatures started to cool down, we started to play our games again.  I could see a different Ember facing me.  And I am pretty sure she started to see a leader facing her as well.  I could see her asking questions, really wanting to try to do as I was asking.  As an RBI, Ember needs a solid leader.  She doesn’t want to be the leader, but needs someone she can trust and rely on.

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In the quiet of a moment, Ember and I bonded in a way I had only dreamed about.  I had never thought it was possible to connect with this sweet girl in the way that we did over the summer months.

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But our story does not end there.  It is just the beginning of an amazing partnership to come…..

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Leading the Herd…

September 26, 2012

It has been some time since I have made a post about Image and Ember, two Pryor Mountain mustangs that now reside in our pastures and deep within my heart.  They share grazing ground with my husbands horses: another mustang, Abi (12 yr old, HMA in Nevada), Touchy (32 yr old  QH Mix) and Lady Gray (10 yr old rescue OTTB).

Ember, Image and Abi – our mustangs

In my ongoing quest to learn natural horsemanship, I am having many ‘aha’ moments along the way.  As I have said in an earlier post: it’s not just about loving my horses, I have to know their language in order to be a good and effective leader.  I have come to realize just how important the role of leadership is.  In light of that, I wanted to focus my attention on my husbands mustang Abi….

Abi and I as we journey down this road together

Within our herd of 5 horses, Abi is the leader, known as the alpha mare.  She pretty much calls the shots within the 5 of them on a daily basis.  She lets each of them know if they ever step out of line.  She is actually a very good leader.  I have watched her many times to see how she handles different situations.  And I am proud of her for stepping up to become the leader when we made the agonizing decision to end the suffering of Shy Ann, our herd alpha mare at the time.  Shy Ann was always a very nervous alpha mare.  She seemed to rule the herd with an ‘iron hoof’ so to speak.  Looking back, I can honestly say she was not a very good leader.  She kept all of the other horses on their toes and did not give them any time to truly relax and have fun and well…. just be horses.  She was somewhat of a dictator.  I was a bit afraid that Abi would  pick up on those traits of Shy Ann’s and become a stern and unforgiving leader herself.

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I have been pleasantly surprised at how well Abi has stepped up into her position as lead mare.  She shows confidence, strength, compassion and fairness.  I have watched her hang back with Touchy, our older mare, to walk with her to go out at feeding time, rather than race ahead with all of the youngsters.  She will put herself in between Lady Gray and Image when they start to feel the ‘hate’ portion of their love/hate relationship.  She will also initiate a mutual grooming session with Ember, who shares the bottom of the totem pole with Touchy.

Image, Abi and Ember

Image questions Abi’s authority quite often.  Abi will gently put him in his place with the lightest amount of pressure necessary.  She starts with her ears back.  If Image doesn’t respond to that cue, she may swing her head toward Image and start to bare her teeth.  If Image is still not responding appropriately, Abi will then advance toward Image and nip him just a little bit.  Abi understands that she does not need to immediately nip Image.  She gives him plenty of opportunities to make the right decision before her teeth make contact.   Abi needs her actions to be effective so that she is understood….

Playing with Abi

After looking into different horsemanship styles, I have come to really have a deep respect for Pat Parelli and his Parelli Natural Horsemanship program (PNH).  PNH puts the relationship between human and horse first.  His program is based on the natural behavior of horses.

Ember, with Image behind her

“Based on respect for and love of horses – and understanding horse nature and psychology – the Parelli program enables anyone at any level to have fun with horses and achieve amazing results…naturally. Parelli horse training avoids using force, fear, harsh bits or mechanical training aids in favor of love, language and leadership or, said another way: relationship, communication and trustworthiness.” – PNH

YES!  That is exactly what I want:  a relationship with my horses built on mutual trust.

Hugging my “little sugar cookie” Image

It was not until I attended a clinic of Parelli Professional Jesse Peters, that I realized that my language skills needed a lot of help.  I realized that I was not communicating with our horses in an effective way.  By communicating, I am referring to body language.  “Everything means something and nothing means nothing” – Pat Parelli 

Jesse Peters demonstrating proper technique at a PNH clinic

In other words, every movement I make means something to my horses.  It is up to me to know their language and understand it.  My horses already know it…..

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I am not a natural leader.  So I had to step out of my own comfort zone to communicate in an effective way for Abi to look to me for leadership.  By using the techniques that PNH teaches, I have finally found a new confidence with our horses.  Once Abi saw that I was speaking her language, she came to accept me as her leader.  I am very happy to say that with just one small little movement from me, Abi will now willingly back up.  In the past, she would run into me or over me as she was exuding her alpha status over me!  I want to be the kind of leader that our horses will willingly and happily follow.  With the Parelli program, I am finally learning how to be the kind of leader my horses can trust and look up to.

Abi and I sharing a Friendly moment

I have just barely scratched the surface of natural horsemanship.  I hope to continue learning and deepening my relationship with each one of our horses.  I know this will be a life long journey.  I am loving what I am learning along each step of the way.

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Who I Want to Be – a poem by Emily Gruber

August 15, 2012

I know it’s been a while since I have written a journal entry.  I am in the middle of writing a new one that I hope to have online by this weekend.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a poem with you written by my niece Emily.  Here is her biography so you can get to know her before reading her poem:

Emily Gruber is a sophomore at Grace College. She lives on her parent’s alpaca farm in northern Indiana. Emily’s favorite animals are kittens and chickens. She enjoys living in the country and living for Jesus. Emily likes to read Christian fiction and to write for fun. She sat down at her desk last year at college and wrote down what was on her mind. The words that came on the pages were not meant for anyone to see. That changed when Emily had to write a poem for her creative writing class and decided to turn in the poem she had written for herself. Emily realized that when something comes from the heart, then that is truly the best a person can give.

Who I Want to Be

By Emily Gruber

Out West is where I’ve always wanted to be,

But you see, that isn’t for me,

Because I’m a city girl, that’s why,

Born and raised with skyscrapers and

Streetlights all around,

Instead of gazing up at all the stars in the sky,

As if I lived in the country.

But you see I’m not a western girl because

I own a cowboy hat, and cowboy boots,

And a cowboy buckle, and these things

Are fake and pretend and not real,

Because I don’t call them what they really are.

If I were a real cowgirl, I’d call them

What they really are, like

A western hat, and western boots,

And a western belt buckle while riding my

Mustang, roping calves and other things

In the Wild West,

With my hair streaming out behind my head,

And my hands calloused from work

Gripping that rope in my hands as

I take down that calf.

But I’m not a western girl, wearing

A western shirt tucked into

Faded blue jeans,

That’s not who I really am.

I’m a city slicker with my hair

Straightened down my back

And my hands smelling of

Nice vanilla lotion

Gripping that saddle horn

With both hands

Because I’m afraid I’m going to fall off

 The small pony at the city zoo.

Emily and Touchy

©Emily Gruber  (Please respect all copyright laws.  Reproduction of this poem is strictly prohibited without written permission from Emily Gruber)

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Are You Ready?

February 17, 2012

I have been wanting to write about this for a long time.  This is perhaps the most important journal entry that I will ever write.  It is one that touches on the very essence of my being.  It is very personal to me and so very important.  Some of you are my dear friends who I have known my entire life.  Some of you I have met along the way in this journey of life.  Others of you I have never met in person, but we have formed deep friendships through the internet.  And finally there are some of you who read this journal or stumbled on to it, without me ever knowing who you are.

Regardless of how, or even if, we know each other, this is still very important.

This poem triggered the thought that I need to write this to you sooner rather than later.

My Friend

My friend I stand in judgment now, And feel that you’re to blame somehow.
On earth I walked with you day by day, And never did you point the way.

You knew the Lord in truth and glory, But never did you tell me the story.
My knowledge then was dim, You could have led me straight to Him.

Though we lived together on earth, You never told me of the second birth.
And now I stand condemned this day, Because of what you failed to say.

You taught me many things, that’s true, I called you friend and trusted you.
Now I learn it’s too late, But you could have saved me from this fate.

We walked by day and talked by night, And yet you showed me not the light.
You let me live and die, Though you knew I’d never live on high.

Yes, I called you friend in life, And laughed with you through joy and strife
And yet on coming to the end …  I cannot call you my friend!
-Author, Unknown

Over the years there were numerous times I wanted to make a clear presentation about the good news written in the Bible. But, I withheld speaking this important truth for a few reasons. I didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, sometimes I was nervous and feared you would think less of me. I didn’t want to come across as pushy. I thought timing might get better later in the day or later in the friendship. I could go on with excuses, but as I read this poem, I can’t help but feel I didn’t do right by you.

If I had the cure for all cancers and kept it to myself, the world would call me cruel. But humanity has a greater and more universal problem than cancer. It is sin. Unlike cancer, the remedy for sin is accessible to all and is free.

I hope you know me well enough to know that I don’t have a ‘higher than thou’ mindset. I too am a sinner in need of a savior, no more or less than anyone else. I don’t deserve heaven. Although I was born with a sinful and selfish nature, that eventually changed after I asked God to help me. I could disclose the skeletons in my closet, but there is no need to do that. We all have deep dark things we try to forget or justify.

Many people have their own beliefs about God and His ways. God doesn’t adapt His ways to conform to our beliefs any more than parents conform to their children’s beliefs. Assumptions and wishful thinking are among the worst ways to conclude anything about God. We need to learn what God says about Himself. In this age of political correctness and moral relativism, God has not changed. Moreover He has the final say … in everything.

Many people think we get into heaven by being a good person. But how good is good enough?  The fact is, if being good is the criteria for making it into heaven, nobody can know before they die how much good is good enough to make it. The following Bible verses make it clear that salvation is not earned by doing good works, but is a free gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, lest no man should boast.

God makes it very clear that we are all sinners.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 Most people think nobody can know before they die whether they will be sent to heaven or hell. That is far too important of a matter to be left to chance. Once you arrive at your eternal destiny it is too late to change course. One hundred years from now we will be dead. One million years from now our bodies will still be dead, but our spirits will be alive … somewhere. What could possibly be more important, than to know where you will spend all of eternity? God is too loving to keep that a secret until it’s too late to change course.

John 14:6 “Jesus said …, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’”

Jesus willingly died on the cross in payment for our sins.  That was the absolute highest price anyone ever paid for anything! And … that was for the salvation of your soul! What can you offer to God in payment for your sins? Can you think of anything more precious than an only born child? But children are tainted with sin and are in need of a Savior just like you. Jesus is sinless, thus only He is eligible to be our Savior. To reject this ultimate sacrifice, brings His fury.

God didn’t create us to be robots and force us to obey and love Him. He wants people who genuinely decide on their own to obey Him and love Him. God hates evil so much, that He paid the ultimate price to reconcile us to Him and take us away from all this evil and suffering. He does not want to condemn us. God wants us to accept His offer of eternal life.

But God loves you so much that He didn’t hold back His precious Son, but allowed Him to be our sacrificial Lamb, so that we could get back on track with His original plan for our lives (paradise with Him for eternity).

Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

I hope you pray the following prayer with deep sincerity. If you do, you too can have the confidence that you are in right standing with your Creator. No matter what happens to you from then on, you will spend eternity in heaven.

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Salvation Prayer

Dear God in heaven, I come to you acknowledging that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins.  I need your forgiveness.

I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.

Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul.  With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.  This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.

Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.

Amen.

If you just said this prayer and you meant it with all your heart, I believe that you just got saved and are born again.  If you did pray this prayer, would you send me an email, telling me so?

deb.little@sbcglobal.net


Are YOU ready?

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Hoof Prints within my Heart

February 8, 2012

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I have not always been a horse-person.  As a little girl growing up, my dreams were not filled with horses.  My sister had a horse when we were in our teenage years and I have to admit to having a fear of that horse.  Her horse never did anything to me to cause me to be afraid.  My fear was just there.  My interests were in drawing, painting, photography, going fishing with Dad, and so on.  If I wasn’t in the black and white darkroom in our basement, I was on a fishing trip with my Dad.  Typical of time, the days and years started to slip on by.  As irony would have it, my sister married a fisherman and I married a horseman…..

Even married to a horseman and having horses on our property still did not compel me to become a horse-person.  Oh sure, they were pretty and fun to watch.  But there was still a fear lurking within me around these large animals.

While at an art show, I saw a photographer’s images of wild horses.  His art was the inspiration to start my own quest to find and photograph wild horses.  There was something about wild horses that just stirred something deep within me.  Funny how the domestic horses did not affect me in this way……

I have spent years following and photographing a herd of wild horses in Montana.  They have completely entwined themselves within my heart.   When the opportunity arose to adopt a couple of the wild horses from this herd that I had completely fallen in love with, we went for it.  I wanted to be the major part of working with these mustangs to help them settle in to their new home with us.  I had started to learn more about natural horsemanship training methods soon after we first brought them home.

The road has been a rocky one: filled with joy and a lot of love, along with frustrations.  But it takes more than love to build a relationship.  I can love them all I want to, but if I don’t understand their language, this love will never grow.  If this love I have for them does not grow because I have not learned their language, I will never be a leader to them.  I knew I must learn more about their language if I were to build our relationship.

In this series of photos you will see Ember getting too close to Abi's space. Abi is quick to send the message to Ember to get her to move. Ember moves off. Notice that Abi has barely moved forward. It is Ember who moves away first. Abi has just shown Ember her authority and dominance.

By studying their every move, their every twitch of the ear, the way they carry themselves is the answer to understanding them.  The very way they interact with each other is key to their language.

It takes time to understand the depth of their language.  And it takes a real ‘want-to’ attitude to learn it.  And I hope that I will show myself worthy to be the kind of leader they will want to willingly follow……  Traveling down this road is taking me a long time, but it is time well spent.

Image when he was just a month old

Image came to us very needy.  He craved our attention.  I have heard from many people who had seen him on his mountain home in the wild and also at the holding pens at Britton Springs that Image was always curious and the first to come up to people to greet them.  In some ways he has been very easy to gentle.  He can be a bit on the lazy side and he loves to have fun.  He also loves to snuggle and give kisses.  I find it hard to stay on task with him when we are training, just because he is so adorable.  I have also found that when he locks all four hooves, he is not going anywhere….

Ember with her mom Firestorm when she was a month old

Ember is the complete opposite.  From the moment we brought her home, she has always wanted to do things her way.  It has taken a bit longer to earn her trust.  And I have to admit that it has been a bit of a bumpy road with her.  But within Ember lies my deepest understanding.  I have learned to turn my frustrations into a want to learn more about her language and what makes her tick.  I have to look at her differently than Image and find a way to reach her.  She has a tremendous amount of energy.  And in that energy, when she gets nervous or anxious, her feet start to fly and she dances around.  Not in a very safe way…. for me anyways!

When my dear friend Ginger Kathrens was going to be in our “neck of the woods” working on a project, I asked her if she could come down to our place and watch me work with Image and Ember.  I wanted her to give me some pointers.  I was stuck.  I was not getting anywhere with Image or Ember in what I was doing.  After watching me work with them both, she summed it up quite well:  I was being too soft on them both, but in different ways.  I needed to keep to task with Image and follow through in what I was asking him to do.  He and I needed to wait until the end of our session for hugs and kisses.  Both Image and I just lowered our heads and sighed with resignation, knowing deep down that she was right.  And by following through with what I was asking him to do, he actually started to do what I was asking!

Image responds to my lightest touch, when asking him to lower his head

With Ember, I was not correcting her fast enough to make my corrections effective.  Ember has a tremendous amount of energy.  I needed to bring my own energy level up not only to match Ember’s but to exceed hers.  I had to really dig deep inside of myself to do this.  But what I found was amazing.  By quickly correcting Embers movements, I found that she started to pay more attention to what I was asking of her.  She really wanted to do what I asked.  I had just been giving her direction too late for either of us to make any sense out of it.

Ember responds beautifully to me asking her to bend her head toward me

Ember responds to my lightest command.

Ember starts to find comfort in our quiet moments together

Image and I can still get a bit distracted, but we are better about keeping on track.

It has been Ember who now typically follows me around the barnyard while I am doing the routine poop-scooping.   Image will come over as well.  But I am starting to think that he is only coming over because he fears his is ‘missing’ something.  We still have a long way to go, but this rocky road has been one that I would not trade for anything.

Ember is realizing that I can help her settle down

I can’t help but see the parallels in my walk with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I find that if I am not learning His language by studying His Word, I am missing out on having a deeper relationship with Him.  By reading His Word and keeping a dialog open with Him, the path He has chosen for me becomes much clearer.  I never want to lose that relationship I have with Him.

Image is waiting for his kisses

Does all of this make me a ‘horse-person’?  I don’t know.  But what I do know is that these horses have made many trails of hoof prints deep within my heart.

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