How to Greet a Horse

Life lessons learned from the greeting ceremony the first time you meet a horse (or any animal for that matter). Here’s how it goes:

  • Blow on the horse’s nose until he turns his head.
  • Then scratch the horse from the withers to the flank.
  • Never give the horse the back of your hand to sniff.
  • Never pet the horse’s face.
  • Never baby talk with a horse.

Here’s why:

  • When the horse turns his head, he is submitting to you. I’ve tried this greeting ceremony with horses and dogs—even a pig. Sure enough, every time they turn their head they are giving me respect and authority, acknowledging that they are the submissive one. I’ve also watched dogs meet for the first time and noted this interaction. I think that the way it works with people is that they give a firm handshake and look each other in the eye. The one who maintains eye contact longest is the dominant. I know that among the Japanese, when they meet, they bow. The subordinate person, or the one of lower rank, remains in the bowed position longer than the superior.
  • By scratching the horse from the withers to the back quarters you are telling him that you will take care of his whole body; he is safe with you; you will not harm him. I wonder if that is what we do by looking at a person. Of course we don’t physically touch another from shoulder to hip when first meeting, but we do see the person. Possibly the look in our eye or the tone in our voice reveals the emotions within our heart that may be understood by the other person, especially if he/she is sensitive. Certainly, when I’m even just slightly irritable, Nathan can pick up on it and often calls it out. Lately, Nathan has been commenting on my lack of validating his feelings. This is not good; for it is from our feelings/emotions we make our choices.
  • When you give the horse the back of your hand to sniff you are telling the horse that he is dominant. Of course this sets you up for all kinds of trouble. OK, so the Farm is all about building up kids and families. We are there as grandparents leading and guiding the family God has put into our life (Izabella’s family). Janet is my friend but it is important to lead and guide her into raising healthy, emotionally well-adjusted children. I messed up yesterday. You see, Mrs. Athena, Mr. Dave’s wife, called asking where Izabella and Jazmin were. I told her that Izabella just didn’t want to go and Janet was thinking up excuses for not going to the Farm. (Janet is a big-time “Rescuer”.) I told Athena that we should be thankful for the progress this family has made in just 3 weeks already. In short, I was covering for Janet’s choices, being a “Rescuer” in my own rite. Mrs. Athena was not impressed. She immediately warned of the trouble both of those girls would face when they turn 30. She was right. I have much to learn.
  • We don’t pet a person’s face and in the same way we should never touch a horse’s face (except when cleaning the eyes or other facial feature). I think this could easily apply to the 10th rule in the “Code of the West”, “Know where to draw the line.” The horse’s face is his personal property and it is not my right to invade that space.

    At Tuesday’s parenting class Mr. Dave told a story about one of the first horses he trained. When the horse was young, its owner coddled it and let it “kiss” her on the cheek. It was cute and delightful for both horse and owner. Well, when the horse was about a year old, the owner was victim in a terrible accident and had to stay in the hospital for 6 months. Finally, the day came when some people were given permission to take her in her wheelchair to visit her beloved horse. When her horse realized it was her he ran up to her, knocked her over, and “kissed” her by taking out a chunk of her cheek clear down to her gums. She had to spend the rest of her days lying in bed for she could no longer even sit in a wheelchair. We have been given many lessons on personal space in the 3 weeks we have been involved with the Farm.

  • When we make baby noises to communicate with an animal we are telling the animal that it is dominate. A cowboy must always be alpha to his horse. Be tough, but fair. I’ve tried to raise my boys this way. You know, Jazmin is a very spoiled little girl. I thought it would be a miracle if she ever went to the Farm without her mommy to turn to. Her second visit to the Farm was with only her sister. I was stunned. It was a miracle. At the end of the day, she wanted to go back the next day. I believe that Jazmin, like a horse, really appreciates the structure, the firmness, knowing the boundaries. At home she is the dominant one (even though she is only 4 years old). At the Farm others are in charge, giving her the freedom to rest within the established framework. I watched this happen with you boys when you understood the boundaries. It also proved to be true in the classroom when the kids were about to get the best of me by my allowing them to dominate. Once I became tough, but fair, their respect for me greatly increased and order ruled.

Hope you have learned something from the 5 rules for greeting a horse. Certainly, you would never expect something like this from home. But, God’s ways are not our ways and our thoughts are not His. To see Tomo gain such insight and pleasure working with troubled little children, scooping horse manure, and gaining an understanding of the ways of God from an old cowboy in his barn is quite an adventure. This is just too good not to share.

With love,



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Reflections on Christmas Gifts

I grew up in a home where Christmas gifts were prolific. In fact, we would often begin opening presents before breakfast and continue opening throughout much of the day, stopping briefly for a quick lunch, only to return to opening more presents. As a child, this was a lot of fun (though I do remember getting quite tired before the job was done). Daddy would faithfully get me that cotton candy maker and Mom would discard it a few days after Christmas. In between I made a batch of cotton candy. Recently I was challenged to consider the most memorable Christmas gift I ever got. It was, without hesitation, the year that Daddy gave me an entire day to go and do with him whatever I wanted.

Fast forward to Christmas shopping this year. I had gone to visit a some Friends in Eugene Friday night. It was unusually stormy. So much so that I decided to spend the night with Grandma instead of going back home. Just wasn’t safe. Though I had plans to continue working on Christmas gift preparations over the weekend, God had other plans. Saturday morning I took Grandma out for some Christmas shopping. We became part of the crowd rushing around looking for the “perfect gift” for our kids. Deep down, I know that every gift purchased for our adult children is unnecessary because they already have whatever they want. This year especially Grandma is committed to buying gifts instead of giving them her traditional cash. Inside I feel something rising up as a roaring lion or a rushing waterfall, stronger than ever. This just can’t be right! Something happened shopping with Grandma. I took her home and headed out to get some practical gifts at T.J. Maxx. When I got to the right section, it had been well picked over. The store was about 5 times as busy as usual. I just couldn’t take it any more. It as time to go. On the way out I noticed that the check-out line, which usually has no people or a couple at most, had mushroomed into a line of at least 30 people. People loaded with gifts for loved ones. I knew that few, if any, of the gifts would be truly appreciated–at least any for the adults. It was there that I just knew something different had to happen this year.

In the past, I would make gifts and/or join the crowd and seek out that “perfect gift”. Not so now. This morning as I was seeking the Lord regarding this turmoil, an idea came across my mind. You see, I’ve been wanting to start a new tradition this year. What kind of tradition can you start when the kids are no longer at home? I want to give them something more valuable than my cheap, uninformed version of something I think they would like. I also want to get away from supporting the retailers–the world’s value system. My husband, who had just returned from a December business trip to the UK remarked that in the San Francisco airport he overheard a ruckus regarding an angel on the Christmas tree in the airport. It had offended someone and must therefore be removed. In Europe the atmosphere was far more conducive to the Christmas spirit. He said that of all the places and airports he’s been to in the last 10 days the one in San Francisco had the least Christmas feeling. How can I participate in the Christmas tradition of buying presents when it now so blatantly promotes the world’s system, bullies me as a believer in Jesus, and forcibly rejects most everything that has to do with the whole reason that Christmas started in the first place? I just can’t do it any more.

So, while thinking on this, an idea popped in my mind. I want to give the kids something much more than what money can buy. I want to give them something very valuable to me. The most valuable possession I have received this year. I want to start a new tradition of giving them a small token to represent the most significant lesson the Lord has imparted to me this year. I also want to find a way to present it to them in a succinct sentence, or quote. So . . .

The lesson: “My gifts and talents are God’s gift to me; what I do with them are my gift to God.” I’ve thought about this often while putting together these boxes and designing classes for homeschoolers. The other day my eldest son challenged me to consider that if God has given me a vision, He will also give me the tools to make that vision a reality. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to teach. Something I read in Jonathan Cahn’s “Book of Mysteries” is that I should take some time to look over what God has done in my life and share that with others. I think the greatest thing that He has done in my life is to make me a mother. I want to share this with others. This morning I was listening to Ravi Zacharias remind us that to find purpose and meaning in life is to know God and to make Him known. Last week at the Entrepreneur’s Meet-up I was encouraged to find groups of people to speak to. Scary. But, what is speaking to people if it’s not teaching? God is rearranging things in my heart and the core of my being. Now is the time to hold His hand tight, press into the arms of God like never before, and go forth with the service that I seek to do as my love-gift to Him from my nature that has heard the call of God. For, He has instructed and taught me in the way which I should go and He has counseled me with His eye upon me. It is now time to incorporate the gifts and talents He has given me to fill the vision He has given me. No more supporting the world’s system of Christmas as I look and listen to my Saviour–the One whose birthday we celebrate on December 25–and not the tradition that has turned against Him.

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