I was only a child when I got my first pony, her name was Rainbow. I knew nothing about how to care for a horse, I did not know what they needed in terms of medical attention, wound care, diet, exercise, or even how to teach them good habits/healthy boundaries. But I had my mom, and as I got older, I also had an incredible 4-H group, lead by some amazing moms/women/horse ladies.
I remember thinking as a teenager, several years into my journey as a horse person, and as a knucklehead in general, that I couldn’t wait to be grown. I thought, “There is no way adults get as much advice as kids do!” Boy was I ever wrong. WRONG. I get more advice now than I did as a kid.
As I learned about what horses physically needed, and a tiny portion of how they process information (this is a daily learning activity, not one of those things you ever arrive at “fully knowing” in my opinion), I also learned how to sort through advice. I knew who I could trust for sound training & health tips, and I started learning who to smile and nod at, and walk away from without absorbing their advice.
I took english lessons for a brief time. My horse, Dreamer, had a lazy streak. He could be a touch stubborn, just enough to keep me paying attention, but he really wanted to please. We were walking, and trotting, in the arena, but he would not lope. I usually had to convince him that I meant it, but that didn’t take much convincing, and on this day he would NOT do it. No way, siree! The lady giving my lesson was getting frustrated and wanted me to spat him with my crop, which I wasn’t comfortable with, and the more she pushed, the more I was getting upset, the less Dreamer was cooperating. I finally came to a stop and went for the dismount.
My saddle rolled and probably dumped me on the ground, on my tush. (The landing on my tush part happened to me a lot, I’m a clutz. I don’t remember for sure if I made it off on my feet this time, or not!) Dreamer gave me the “See, idiot?” look that I loved from him, and when both my mom and I tried to tell the lady he knew the saddle wasn’t properly secured, she disagreed and we all quickly decided that we weren’t a good match for lessons.
One time, at a barn where I was boarding Risky, a fellow boarder was acting strangely. I was getting frustrated by the way she would get louder and louder with her training and horse work when I was in the vicinity. She would eyeball me, and begin exaggerating her actions. I had no idea why she was doing it until a dear friend shed some light on the situation with her wise words, “She is TEACHING you.” Oh! I finally understood. Advice.
Good Advice, Bad Advice, Unsolicited Advice – we get the privilege some days, the chore other days, of sorting through advice and using what makes our life better and disregarding what does not. Whether it is marital advice, business advice, financial in nature, about child bearing & rearing, or how-to-train-your-horse advice, we all get it.
My prayer today is for grace. I have people I trust for advice, I have people I avoid for advice, and I meet strangers that have advice that I am pretty sure I didn’t ask for, and I just ask that God would give me the filter, the wisdom, and grace to sort through all advice, use what I can, leave what I can’t, and always respond graciously to the giver. I also pray for God to guide the advice I give – that I would recognize when it is welcome, and that I would speak in love, with wisdom, and humility.