Neglect Has Consequences!
By Betsy Kelleher
Several years ago, a fellow boarder said he wanted to come back in his next life as one of my horses (he thought I took extra good care of them)! Back then, I cleaned hooves and groomed regularly. I was probably a bit over zealous, and with time I’ve mellowed.
Recent experience with Traveller, my wonderful old Quarter-something, has proven the need to go back to more consistent care. Over the winter, our barn didn’t always get sawdust when it was due and our barn owner finally changed truckers. Stalls were often wet, even though we bought bales of shavings or got our own load of sawdust. Meanwhile, I was riding two other horses, trying to decide which one to keep and which one to sell. I finally listed them both. We sold Sammy and I will keep Lady. In the process, I didn’t get around to cleaning Traveller’s hooves for much longer than I realized!
My intentions were good (I remember hearing a sermon once on “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”), but my neglect had its consequences. I pass this on to my readers, hoping to prevent some other horse from Traveller’s plight. He will be fine in time, but the thrush got very deep and has taken a long time to treat. After Traveller recovered so well from EPM, and I must truly thank God for helping in that matter, now I have another delay before I can ride him regularly again. But as always, caring for a horse’s problems somehow brings the two beings a bit closer.
If we neglect our horse’s feet, we are risking everything. If a horse has trouble walking, he surely has trouble being ridden! So many things can develop: infection, abscess, thrush, or a tiny rock that gradually works its way around the hoof (and Traveller has that, too!). Without sound feet and legs, we have no riding horse!
If we neglect grooming, a horse could develop skin problems and certainly doesn’t look as healthy and beautiful as he could. Little buggies love to hide in dirty coats! Spring, when the horses shed their winter hair, is the worst time of all. But soon, when all that winter stuff is gone, we can get to the dirt hiding underneath, and again have a clean horse! Grooming not only helps circulation, it is a great bonding tool.
If we neglect a horse’s teeth, he can have problems eating and lose weight. He may throw his head up when ridden, or fight the bit, even rear. A vet or equine dentist should check teeth regularly. A couple times a year is not too often. I just have to add this, however: I was once told to add a little whole kernel corn to the feed, less in summer and more in winter, and it would help to keep teeth from needing to be floated as often. And I do think it seems to help.
If we neglect to clean a sheath, a gelding might end up rubbing his tail ragged, or possibly develop a hard “bean” that could make him unable to urinate. I read on an internet discussion forum that one horse actually got put down from infection that came from not being cleaned! Some owners pay a vet to do this job. For those do-it-yourself owners who have access to the internet, check this site out; it’s worth reading: http://www.equusite.com/articles/health/healthSheathCleaning.shtml.
I sincerely believe that sometimes physical things happen in our lives as either an indication or a warning of spiritual concerns. In this case, I am feeling warned about spiritual neglect. Although I have good intentions, I know how often I plan to spend a quiet time with my Lord and end up on the computer or the phone or sorting through stuff. There are so many important things that need to be done. Important in my own eyes, that is, but perhaps not in God’s understanding.
I am passing this along to anyone willing to listen, and if the shoe fits, we all must wear it. It is time to stop neglecting the things that are important to our horses and to our relationship with God.
Neglecting the Word of God leads to a personal reliance on our own ideas, feelings, thoughts and judgments, instead of going to the real Truth that God provides. Good intentions can be misdirected. We may think we can handle a situation with our own resources, but sometimes the water is deeper than it looks! Sometimes it’s best to listen to His wisdom and to wait for His guidance before going forward.
Neglecting time in God’s Presence can lead to insecurity, weakness, frustration, confusion, and feelings of guilt and uncertainty. We may feel alone, but we need to remember that He is always nearby. He is waiting; we only need to take time to turn away from daily pressures and demands to be alone with Him. His Presence is the only true fulfillment for all our needs. God is a Holy Being, with great intelligence, deep loving emotion and power. He has created us in His image, that we can relate to Him within a loving, intimate relationship.
Neglect of salvation can lead to eternal condemnation. God has offered us a free gift; if we refuse to accept it, we have no excuse. Our inborn self-serving nature excludes Jesus from our lives. We naturally attempt to deal with life’s issues from our own instincts, just as a horse naturally works out of his own instincts and experience. Until we allow Jesus to save us from this self-serving nature, until we allow Him to take charge and help us through these issues, we are on our own. Just as we need to train our horses to trust us and let us take charge for the sake of our safety, we are safer trusting in God’s leadership. Unless we allow Christ and His Holy Spirit to take His rightful place as Lord of our life, as our intimate influence, our rejection of God’s love could keep us out of Heaven.
In Hebrews 2:1-3, the writer warns us not to neglect God’s gift of salvation. “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.”
It is up to us, to determine the important issues in our lives and for our horses, and to make sure they receive attention. We don’t have to do a total grooming every day, but a little here, a little there, without neglecting something for too long will get us through. A quick daily check of our horses can help catch things before they are serious. Looking at the horse’s attitude, ears, eyes, way of moving, hair coat, feet, and making sure everything is “working” by evidence of manure and wet spots in the stall, can help us know all is well. My horse deserves my attention and needs my care.
A daily time spent in the Presence of our Heavenly Father helps us know that all is well within. God created us to worship Him and He wants our fellowship. He also created us with a need for Him, to help us reach for that fellowship, for our own good. This world seems more out of control all the time, but we can be sure that we belong to a God who is in control. And we can trust Him to care for us much better than we care for our horses.
(Originally published in the May 2005 issue of the Illinois Horse Network)