An Amazing Book
By Betsy Kelleher
I have just read a new book, Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace, by Lynn Baber, and I will wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone who works with horses or anyone seeking a relationship with God. Lynn is an excellent motivational writer with a personal, conversational style and a good balance of authority and humor. Her book is due to be available April 20th from Tate Publishing, but you can pre-order on amazon.com or through her website at http://amazinggrays.us/.
My first contact with Lynn was last October when she left a message on my website guestbook. We emailed; and more recently, we traded books (she sent me an advance copy). Our books have a similar message, which gave us an immediate connection. She told me she read my book, Sometimes a Woman Needs a Horse, in one day and enjoyed the similarities. I took much longer to read hers. This is the kind of book I like to digest slowly, pondering each lesson. “My message” she says, is “one of right relationships: your relationship with your horse and what it teaches you about your relationship with God.” That was the message of my book as well, but Lynn wrote from a different perspective. I wrote from my learning experiences with my first horse. Lynn’s words of insight are backed by over twenty years experience as a horse trainer, breeder, judge and business consultant. And she specialized in stallions, which in itself is impressive.
Lynn and her husband, Larry, live in Texas. She has left the training and breeding business to “retire” on their own place where they can take time to enjoy their own four horses (including Bo and Swizzle, the two gray quarter horses featured on her book cover). Her book is not about her life, although she shares many of her experiences. In her own words, “This book is a collection of concepts and stories offered for the sole purpose of sharing how horses allow us to find closer relationships with God.” I wish to add that her book is filled with wisdom regarding horse training as well. Anyone who has a horse will find many worthwhile nuggets within these pages.
The introduction itself is amazing, beginning with Lynn’s beautiful description of a special morning. “The day is unveiled as the morning sun slowly begins to rise above the black-green trees and deep-purple hills, each new angle of sunlight creating an original canvas upon which God’s artwork appears to those who are awake to behold its glory.” I urge you to take time to appreciate what Lynn is revealing. She does not write such eloquent expression without purpose. She issues a challenge for her readers to pursue a right relationship with God as a new day dawns for each one of us. She believes “the secret of life is relationship with God.” While pursuing that relationship, this book “will help you learn to communicate with the Spirit and experience correction and trial as your habit of task slowly changes to habit of obedience. As your training progresses, you will begin to see the possibilities of relationship with the Lord that have so far been but ghostly images in a flat landscape.” I was both motivated and encouraged by her writing, and that was merely the introduction.
One can read this book’s 268 pages from cover to cover, or pick any chapter to read on its own. Chapters have titles but are not numbered. Each chapter is separate in itself, but built step by step, woven together with intricate perfection using personal experience, simple honesty and touches of delightful humor until the ending becomes clear in the light of realization. I often felt like reading the whole chapter one more time, to fully appreciate the way it was written as well as confirming the lesson learned.
Many chapters contain practical concepts of horse training. In “Test of Leadership,” she gives clear instruction what to do when a horse stops during a ride. “In the Beginning” discusses how to establish communication. Another chapter, “Communication and Making Mistakes,” contains a story about a friend who encountered a llama and came off when his horse bolted. Because of his injuries, he sold his horse and stopped riding. Lynn explains step by step how the mare gave warning, asking for leadership, and what the rider should have done to prevent the bad ending. “Most of us lose our way by concentrating on the goal of task,” she says, “and not the depth of relationship.”
Lynn defines disposable relationships and committed relationships, applying these terms to horse and rider and marriage and family as well. She discusses dominance issues as opposed to leadership and explains the difference very clearly. She says a horse must trust its leader and obedience is essential between leader and follower. Much of this book’s content deals with developing the habit of task into the habit of obedience, for horses as well as humans. Even if you don’t agree with the philosophy of obedience in horses to humans, read this book with an open mind and you may find new understanding!
This book is very thorough, but it is not a step by step horse training manual. Lynn reveals her knowledge about many areas of the horse world, even dealing with the show ring judge’s position from the experiences of a former exhibitor. She discusses leadership of groups, and how group dynamics work in the preparation of a show such as Cavalia, as well as the body of Christ, the church.
I don’t want to spoil the beauty of Lynn’s stories with my own summaries. You need to read them for yourself. Like the chapter, “What do we learn from Susan Boyle?” That should make you curious!
Some chapters may not be an “easy” read for those really serious about relationship with God, but it is deeply inspirational. For example, Lynn deals with the problem of barn flies as distractions to horse and rider communication, and reminds her readers that we have many items in our homes that can distract from a right relationship with God. She challenges her readers to “be ruthless” in getting rid of any distractions to the true blessing of right relationship with our Lord. Lynn’s goal is to help her reader find that true blessing.
Lynn is not afraid to deal with issues of truth, clarity, consistency and accountability. She even had the courage to deal with the book of Revelation! Within that very chapter, I found this gem: “The good horse trainer does not introduce their horse to new objects and surroundings in order to desensitize the horse to those specific things, but to build confidence in the horse that in any situation, and in any surrounding, the horse feels safe in the relationship.”
Again, it goes back to relationship, a strong and deep relationship based on trust and obedience. And I believe you need to read this book!
(Originally published in the April 2010 issue of the Illinois Horse Network)