Knockout and I finished checking cows, then swung around at a lope toward the corner of the pasture to check fences. Slowing to a brisk walk, we entered the woods trail paralleling the back fence line. At the corner, we turned north, continuing our ride through the woods until we crossed the creek to ride through the gate to the front pasture.
Coming out of the woods, we recrossed the creek, then picked up into a trot along the west fence line. Seeing a small tree branch on the hotwire, I cued a stop and dismounted. Dropping the reins to ground-tie Knockout, I walked over and tossed the limb into the woods on the other side of the fence. Knockout stood quietly as I gathered the reins and remounted. Uncharacteristically, he started moving before I was settled in the saddle. So, I cued a stop, backed him, and asked him to stand quietly a moment before continuing our ride.
Two fence posts further along, the wire was off an insulator. Again, we stopped and Knockout stood ground-tied as I inspected the fence. Since the wire was not sparking against the steel post, I knew it was safe to touch the wire…and something was wrong with the charging unit. I replaced the wire in the insulator and reminded myself to check the battery and connectors. This time, Knockout stood quietly as I remounted, and he awaited my signal before moving on.
Next we dropped down a steep bank for our third creek crossing. This crossing is my favorite and Knockout’s least favorite. The creek bottom lies about ten feet below pasture level with steep banks on each side. A few weeks ago, Knockout avoided this crossing, but now he takes the steep decline in stride.
Just on the other side of the creek, we stopped again to replace the wire on another insulator and to check the charging unit. The battery was dead, which explains the fence condition. I made a mental note to make sure we replace the battery before dark, then remounted to continue the inspection.
Riding through a pine thicket, I noticed the top wire was sagging low between several posts. So we continued to the end of the electric fence where I again dismounted and left Knockout standing ground-tied. Walking over to the corner post, I started untwisting the end of the wire as Knockout calmly nibbled a clump of grass pushing through the thick carpet of pine needles.
Once the wire end was free, I started pulling it tight. As there was quite a bit of slack going down several fence posts, it took a bit of tugging to get it pulled tight. About the time I got the slack out I caught movement from the corner of my eye. Turning my head, I saw Knockout eyeing the fence as he sidestepped away. Glancing back, I realized this section of fence had several long strands of bright flagging that were now bouncing and waving wildly around as I tugged and pulled on the wire.
“Whoa, Knockout!” I called as I took a quick turn of the wire to hold it in place.
Knockout turned tail and continued his retreat in his best quarter-horse imitation of a saddle-bred’s quick gaited walk. To his credit, he did not panic and run. However, he was clearly uncomfortable with that wire bouncing around flapping all the mysterious flagging…and was distancing himself from the source of his discomfort.
I had to move fast to catch up! Fortunately, Knockout stopped and let me scoop up the reins. I backed him vigorously a few steps just to remind him he wasn’t supposed to walk off while ground-tied. Then we returned to finish the fence repair.
I stuffed the end of the rein in my hip pocket, leaving both hands free to work while still keeping the rein close in case Knockout walked off again. This required Knockout to approach closer to the fence than before…which he was pretty hesitant to do. I just hung in there asking until he stepped close enough for me to work.
I finished securing the fence wire without further incident.
With the fence repair completed I turned back to Knockout. “Now, let’s talk about this wire and flagging that got you so distressed.” Holding his rein in my left hand, I gave the wire a vigorous shake with my right hand. Knockout backed to the end of the rein and braced as I continued shaking the wire. After a couple of seconds, Knockout softened and took one step forward. I responded by immediately stilling the movement of the wire. I praised Knockout, then did it again. We did that a few more times until Knockout would stand calmly before stepping toward the wire while I vigorously shook it.
Then we had a little talk.
“Knockout, you have every reason to fear that wire when I’m not with you. Yes, you know from experience that touching an electric fence results in a very unpleasant sensation. I’m glad you know that. I’m glad you know to stay away from the fence when I’m not with you.”
“When I’m with you, though, it’s a completely different deal. That fence won’t hurt you when you’re with me. I have authority over that wire. It only carries a charge when I tell it to carry a charge. When you’re with me, you can trust me to know whether or not the fence is charged.”
I remounted and we rode home.
As we rode, my words to Knockout echoed through my mind…except different…in a still small voice…
“Joe, you don’t need to worry about everything going on in the world. Yes, American politics is going crazy. Yes, the country is increasingly divided. Yes, the number of mass shootings is escalating. Yes, terrorist acts are increasing. These are all reasonable things to be concerned about.”
“When you’re with Me, though, it’s a completely different deal. I have authority over all these things. I have authority over sin and death. Nothing can harm you without My permission. When you’re with Me, you can trust Me to care for you.”
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Revelation 1:17-18)
Yes, Jesus! You have authority. Thank you, Lord!