A Horse Ministry
As the group of family campers approached the barn, the wranglers began sizing up the new riders almost immediately, assessing their personalities, temperaments and other qualities important for an enjoyable trail ride for both horse and rider. Matching campers’ and horses’ personalities doesn’t always play out like you would imagine though.
For example, this particular morning, Tim ‘Swanee’ Alderson, Head Wrangler, matched one timid little girl to Shadrack, one of the more confident, faster horses so she wouldn’t fall behind during the trail ride and have to worry about staying up with the group. The wranglers want the riders to be relaxed so the well trained horses will respond more willingly to their riders.
Yes, even the horses are trained in the “Pine Cove Way,” and Pine Cove wranglers select horses that demonstrate a softness and willingness to be used for the wranglers’ purposes. Who could have guessed that this morning, a horse named Little Joe would soon open the eyes of one family camper dad for life changing transformation in how he walked with the Lord?
As the ride began, Little Joe was a model horse. Trained to respond and relinquish control to his rider, he did not stop to eat along the way or trot to catch up with the other horses. Eventually though, he began to complain. Little Joe became stiff-necked so that the camper dad could no longer direct his path. The more stiff-necked Little Joe became, the more frustration the dad experienced. Didn’t this horse know he was going on a relaxing adventure? If only he would allow the rider to lead him in the direction he needed to go. Little Joe’s continual rebellion did not make sense to the camper dad. Over and over the horse refused to be led by him.
As the ride progressed, the camper dad became increasingly frustrated, but then a sense of understanding overwhelmed him at once. He clearly saw for the first time how God was viewing him. Trying to guide Little Joe on what was meant to be a relaxing and enjoyable trail ride, opened his eyes to how HIS subtle disobedience to God was in conflict with God’s plan and ultimately God’s blessings for his life.
The Pine Cove Wranglers are not surprised at all by this camper dad’s revelation. They continually see God breaking through and touching hearts using Pine Cove’s horse ministry. Swanee explains that the wranglers continually find opportunities to compare our relationship to horses to that of our Father and us. “Horses have a herding instinct and we are frequently asking them to go against that natural instinct. We put them through individual training exercises, ask them not to eat while on a trail ride, etc., and we are asking them to be fine with that… to trust us.”
Wrangler Caleb ‘Frac Attack’ Campbell, continues, “In essence, it’s the horse’s job to rest in the fact that the wrangler is in control. God is calling us to defy our sinful nature accomplished only through trusting Him.” What a beautiful picture.
It’s a picture that the wranglers get to paint for campers throughout the year as Pine Cove’s horse ministry remains a popular activity at many of the youth and family camps. There are currently 125 horses in Tyler, Texas and 35 horses in Columbus, Texas that call Pine Cove home.
God continues to use these magnificent creatures and their wranglers in a mighty way to illustrate life-saving Truth.