In my previous blog post, I wrote about working with Knockout’s issue of continually trying to turn around and go home. To address this issue, I let him turn around but put him to working trotting circles at the end of the driveway.
I’m pleased to report this approach seems to have been effective and we have since enjoyed several relaxed rides together on a loose rein with light prompts.
In this post, though, I want to share the story of our first ride after my previous post. Sometimes these animals are truly hilarious, and this was one of those times.
We started out of the driveway, turning right down the gravel road. As we passed the mailbox, Knockout dodged left and I let him turn back toward the driveway, where I pushed him into a trot circling the same pattern as before.
As before, each time we hit the short stretch heading south down the road, I dropped the reins and looked down the road, offering Knockout the good deal of a relaxed ride. And each time he chose, instead, to turn right up the drive, initiating another loop around the small circle.
Unlike the previous ride, Knockout was pretty quick to realize the futility of turning up the driveway. After about five minutes of circling he took me up on the good deal of going straight down the gravel road.
He surprised me, though, by holding a fast trot and crowding the right side of the road. He was literally trotting down the ditch, over small mounds of gravel and pine straw, brushing tree limbs along the way. I thought he would tire of that pretty quick, but I wound up asking him to move to the left a little. He complied with a left side-pass, but continued to focus intently on the right side of the road.
When he suddenly turned right I went with him, expecting yet another turn back to the driveway. Instead, he crossed the ditch to stand quietly at a gap gate, looking out into our back pasture. We sat there for a few minutes while I asked if he liked the view. Then I backed him across the ditch and we continued our ride.
When our road intersected another gravel road, Knockout pulled right and I decided to let him go. He promptly tried to turn another right into our neighbor’s pasture. When I blocked his turn, he continued trotting up the road. At the other end of our neighbor’s pasture, he tried again to turn into another open gate, which I blocked. Further on, he tried to turn right up a path through a pine thicket leading to the back corner of our pasture…again I blocked him.
After about two miles I turned him around to head home…and he acted reluctant. After a few steps he tried to turn around again, which made me laugh. “Really? After all these weeks of you trying to turn around and head home, now you’re acting reluctant to go home?”
As we continued home, the closer we got the slower Knockout walked. Usually, he’s super light heading home. This ride he got slower and slower. The last stretch before our driveway, I had to push him just to keep moving.
When we finally got to our driveway, Knockout walked on the far side of the road, looking straight ahead. When I prompted him to turn, he very gingerly turned and walked very precisely up the center of the driveway like he was nervous about making a wrong move.
I literally laughed out loud as I finally realized what he had been thinking that whole ride.
From the time we started up the road, Knockout’s focus had been on finding an alternate route home. Realizing the driveway was somehow blocked to prevent passage, he was diligently seeking another way home. He had adopted the position of, “Don’t worry, Joe. I’ll get us home. I know there’s another way to get there. Just stick with me and I’ll find another route.”
When he stopped at the first pasture gate, it was in hope I would open the gate for him to pass. Then all those other attempted right turns were an effort to find another way home. When I turned to go back, he was reluctant to give up his search, because he had already confirmed the driveway was closed.
I give Knockout full credit for logical conclusions based on his understanding. After persistently trying to go up the driveway and failing, he decided the appropriate action was to find another route…and set out to do exactly that.
He failed to understand the driveway was only closed because I intentionally blocked it…and the driveway would be open as soon as I chose to allow it. Getting home was not an issue of needing to find the right path. Rather it was an issue of needing to wait on my timing.
Knockout made his plans failing to recognize that the opener and closer of paths was right there with him the whole time.
How often have I been right there in Knockout’s shoes?
How many times have I persistently tried to do what I thought was the best thing, just to fail over and over? How many times have I concluded that door was closed and set out to find another path to achieve my goal? And how many of those times was God simply waiting on me to stop trying so He could direct my path in His timing?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Lord, thank you for your patient good humor as I try to show you where we should go. Thank you for continuing to teach me to wait on you and follow your direction.