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Part iX

patience, patience, patience

by Rick Anderson

A while later, I was taught my second lesson from the Lord. And, as usual, I had trouble learning this one, too. You would think that, after so many times, being told to just chill, be patient, try to be content where you are, I would have SOMETHING get through my thick skull, but no such luck.


One of my three young horses was a three-year-old filly named Argenum. Now this one was a beautiful black horse, standing about 16 hands tall with a white blaze on the forehead and she had white stockings. She was pretty. But she was skittish. Very flighty and nervous was this horse and again, I should have learned how skittish from the first time we ever had anything on her back.


On this day we tried to put a pack saddle on Argenum and headed out for a short, two-day trip. We got a late start in the day and loaded up the pack on the horse. The packs were two plywood pan-yards lashed to an x-frame called a McClellan packsaddle. We had all our supplies inside the boxes and had it lashed down fairly well. We weren’t figuring on Argenum though.


As we were leaving the island something shifted inside the pan-yards and made a thud sound, and off to the races went Argenum. She bucked and kicked and threw her head high in the air. She spun and danced and scattered over two acres all the supplies she was carrying. I think she continued bucking just to buck, but it must have gone on for 20 minutes before we could calm her down. It took another hour to retrieve all the goods that she had scattered over the property. Well, needless to say, we cancelled that trip for another day.


So, a couple of days later, Argenum became my night horse and I was to use her to go get the horses down river in the mud meadows. It was a damp morning; the dew was thick and dripping off the trees. My coat was soaked before I got off the island, but I shortly dried off in the morning sun. I was told by Doug to fast trot the horse on the way and once I located the other horses to keep them at a run until I got to the ranch. That way, the horses would be tired when they got to the ranch and we would be better able to shoe and break them as needed.


I had trouble locating the horses that morning. I looked through several pockets of meadows and going through one stand of timber my hat got knocked off my head. I stopped Argenum and got off to get my hat. As I picked the hat up to put it back on my head, the movement of the hat made Argenum shy from me. Voila, there went the reins out of my hands, and off went the horse, lickety-split. Talk about feeling stupid. I was in the middle of bear, wolf, and who knows what else country, with no gun, no horse, and worst of all, no cell phone. Oh yeah, they hadn’t been invented yet.


So, I did the next best thing. I pulled out all I could remember from all the westerns I had ever read or seen on the movie screen and tried to track down a horse. I did ask the Lord for help just in case he was listening. I looked at the changes in the dew, I tried to find horse prints, and I looked for any path that Argenum might take to get to the other horses. I even tried just to find the other horses. But after an hour or so of tracking that horse down, I finally found her.

She was in the middle of a meadow along with the rest of the horses. Now that I’d found her I had to figure out how to approach her without scaring her anymore and making her run off again. So, I started talking to her in a soft voice. I approached from her side because I once heard that you needed to approach a horse from the side or it would think you weren’t a friend. Slowly, very slowly, I walked toward the horse. She didn’t move, but just turned to look at me. When I started the approach, she was about 100 yards away. And now that I was getting closer, I could see the reins dangling. The closer I got to her, the slower I moved. I didn’t want to scare her. Inching my way toward the reins, I envisioned myself almost there. I was so close, two feet, one foot away. Finally, I was just an inch or so away and I couldn’t hold myself back any longer so I made one last lunge at the dangling leather reins.




The horse did a pirouette on her front legs and with her left hind leg, she kicked me square in the middle of my chest. BAM! WHOOF! I went flying. I did a 1 ½ summersault and landed flat on my back about twenty feet from where I once stood. My glasses were farther away yet and all I could do was gasp and gag and try like mad to find some air. I could swear that I heard the squirrels in the trees next to me laughing and holding up signs that said 5.6; 5.8; 5.4; 1. Once I found my breath and my glasses, I looked for the horses, but they had all run off. Man, oh man, was I sore. I didn’t hurt just in my chest. I hurt EVERYWHERE. And there was nothing left for me to do but start walking back to the ranch. That was a 9-mile hike and I had to ford the river at least twice.


So off I started. Did I mention that it took me some time to track down the horses the first time? Well, it took me so long that Doug sent someone after me. They caught up to me near my first river crossing and I got a ride back to the ranch on the back end of a saddle. In case you have never ridden a horse, the back of the saddle area is not meant to ride on. Every footfall, every jar hurt like the dickens. And I fully expected to be chewed out by Doug when we got back to the ranch, and yep, I was.


I think I was called everything from incompetent to stupid and then backwards. Doug chewed on me until he was blue in the face. No one can chew someone like an old Texas cowhand - he was an expert. Then he told me to go saddle up another horse. We were going back to the meadows to retrieve the saddle on Argenum and to get the horses.


Every time I think about that day, I remember that I only had one inch to go, so another few minutes to get there wouldn’t have made that much difference. As it stood, I was in major pain for the next two weeks because of my impatience. I didn’t bruise on my chest; I bruised on my back - I couldn’t sleep on anything but my chest.


God hasn’t given me any specific Scriptures to go with this story. But He has told me that sometimes learning the hard way can hurt very much. All I had to do with this horse was just take my time and I would have been able to grab the reins in a few more minutes and save myself a whole lot of misery. Maybe if I had fully learned this lesson then, my now wouldn’t be so painful. For I have been kicked in the chest again for being impatient and it hurts very, very much. Sometimes I feel like a dog returning to its vomit when I repeat and repeat my folly of being impatient. Still, that day I remember as one in which I tracked down what was lost, only to lose it again by being impatient.


I was able to get the horse back, and to ride Argenum again, but she never trusted me after that day. I remember Doug telling me when he was chewing me out that my first mistake was going back for my hat. The second mistake was getting off the horse to get the hat back on my head. One of these days, maybe I will learn to be patient when I have something in my sights, or a task to perform. I mean, Doug tried to tell me to just enjoy the time at the task during the first lesson.


The Apostle Paul talks about learning to be content at whatever situation. In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul states: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”


I wish that I could learn that lesson from Paul. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so eager to jump the gun and be impatient at tasks or with people and get kicked in the chest over and over again.

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