Some may sigh at what falls on deaf ears as boring old words. Even atheists know Psalm 23. It must be amongst the most famous pieces of literature in the world; “The Lord is my Shepherd” sounds familiar to people from virtually every culture. Overused, over-quoted, dull old Psalm 23.
Think so? Think again.
What faith. What love. What a splendid promise. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters…”
The Lord is MY Shepherd, here and now, then and forever. The Lord is my Good Shepherd, who giveth his life for the sheep. The Lord is my Shepherd, and the door to my fold; the Lord is my Shepherd, and the Love in my life.
The Lord my Shepherd is always leading me beside the still waters. He blesses me so abundantly, and me with my bad habits, my temper, my bitten nails and fears and worries and prejudices, deserves not one jot of it; but the Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want, no matter how awful I am, because He loves me.
The Lord my Shepherd blesses my loved ones right alongside me. He blessed Skye, His beloved mare, who has grown out her radiant summer coat. She’s in nice condition at the moment (she generally is); very unfit, of course, but not fat and not skinny, and she’s retaining at least some of her lovely neck muscles. I will probably be able to get back in her saddle around the beginning of December. I can’t wait.
The Lord my Shepherd sent the right sort of people to buy little Copper. I was worried about him, because he’s not much of a horse in terms of conformation, and it would be all too easy for some negligent person to saunter along, pay pittance for him and take him away to a lifetime of abuse. Thankfully, the Lord my Shepherd had other ideas; a family came along to buy him for their little daughter’s birthday. Copper is happy, the parents are happy, the little daughter is over the moon. He’s out of my hands now, and that still feels like a small tragedy to me; but the Lord my Shepherd is his Shepherd, too.
The Lord my Shepherd sent me the right horse at the right moment. Magic and I continue
to get along famously. Some time ago, the Mutterer helped me to jump him; this would only be the second time I’d ever jumped with Magic, and the steed himself could probably count the number of times he’d jumped with his hooves. However, Magic is a generous and bold soul, bless him, and despite the fact that I froze up several times and/or chickened out and just sat there waiting for the poor untrained four-year-old to act like a veteran, he was fabulous. I fell in love with him all over again (and I’d barely finished falling in love the first time). That jump! The inexpressible feeling of power, of lifting as he drives himself off the ground and tucks his front feet right up into his chest – I have never ridden a horse who jumps quite like Magic.
Talented and energetic or no, he remains kind and playful and somewhat goofy. He likes to tag after me (or pretty much anyone else) without having to be led; he loves to play. I spent half an hour or so running around with him his paddock a few weeks ago, making a perfect idiot of myself and that splendid horse. I’m short and very nervous, and Magic is a big, fiery, muscular four-year-old thoroughbred. Magic leapt and bucked and pranced and ran and never once did he come close to shoving into me or hurting me. The Lord my Shepherd has blessed me with the company of a lot of special horses, and Magic is one of them.
He’s improving under saddle a lot; last time I wrote I noted his difficulties with cantering to the right, adding that he tends to get frustrated and sometimes even bucks. This was probably mostly my fault, because on that big, rapid stride I tended to freeze and glue my hands to his neck, tipping my whole body forward and rendering my aids virtually nonexistent. I’ve been making a determined effort to sit up straight, keep my legs forward, bring my hands up and back and, in short, ride like I’ve actually been in the saddle once or twice instead of clinging on like a demented beginner with some trace of rabid chimpanzee in its pedigree. Unsurprisingly, this helped a lot; Magic is far more controllable in the canter, has slowed down nicely, doesn’t cut his corners much and doesn’t buck unless he’s been frightened by Falco, the scary Saddler who stood next to the arena one day and nearly drove me insane. Magic is also far better with his head and doesn’t flip it around as much as he used to.
The Lord my Shepherd gave me the gentlest young horse ever foaled;
Thunder. Thoroughly recovered from his operation, Thunder the Gelding is the same old Thunder he always was, with the trace of stroppiness gone and some flesh coming back to his ribs. I can confidently vouch that gelding a horse doesn’t change his real personality in the least, just makes him considerably kinder and easier to handle. Thun has progressed to long-lining with the lines attached to his bit and halter together. He is a little slow to stop but turns beautifully, and soon I’ll switch the lines to just his bit as he gets used to the different pressure. He still has his absentminded days, but he has yet to buck/shy/run away/rear whilst wearing the saddle and is learning to keep his head down very nicely while I put his bridle on. Plus, he’s becoming absolutely beautiful.
The Lord my Shepherd leads me through the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake, and I shall try not to complain when they get a little thorny. Siobhan is being a brat. Again. She is starting to re-earn her nickname of the Mustang, mostly by trying to buck off one of my students, for which she earned a thorough whack. The next week, it was rather windy and one heavy gust caught one side of the shelter roof and slammed it down on the support with a resounding crash; Siobhan gave a terrific leap into the air and her poor rider did what she usually does, shriek and stick on like Velcro. I had had enough. I transferred poor Danielle, who deserves a medal, to Arwen and got on Siobhan myself. Fireworks commenced, including a gigantic buck and a perfect courbette on her hindlegs (Siobhanny would have no trouble finding work as a Lipizzaner), but I stayed on and she eventually calmed. Today, I schooled her again and she was noticeably gentler and focused better than she has been doing the last few weeks. I have gradually cut her feed down to a quarter of what it was as she has been getting pretty fat, so that might be part of what made such a difference.
The Lord is my Shepherd, and though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. I wish I could always repeat this verse in the full knowledge that I live it out, but my nervousness issues still haven’t gone. I think it is getting a little better, though. Arwen has been foolish on outrides for a long time, so I was jittery about taking her out again today, despite the fact that Princess Evenstar’s shenanigans of late have been limited to some mild rearing and nervousness, all of which I rode out without too much trouble, thanks to the angel riding pillion (I swear, there’s no other reason why I manage to stick on). Today, though, I think the work is starting to pay off, and Jesus must have whispered something in Arwen’s ear, too, because she was a little cherub. There were francolins whirring out of the grass, guinea fowls running through the bushes, scary Jersey cows staring at her, stupid Holstein heifers running about, wind in the trees, the infamous Scary Tree which contains lions, and a lot of other things that Arwen would usually spook at, but not today. Today she sneered at the guinea fowls, thumbed her nose at the Jerseys and was unimpressed by the lions. In fact, with her big ears pricked and her strong legs swinging out briskly, I think Arwen was actually enjoying herself. I know that I was enjoying myself. I had my dear, gentle, patient little Arwen back and I am over the moon with her. Keep up the good work, sweet Arwie. We haven’t jumped for some time, but schooling and lungeing continues and the Mutterer is getting pretty impressed with the muscle Arwen is building, which I’m very pleased about.
The Lord is my Shepherd. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.