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It is official. The world is filled with morons.

I’m quite certain that is probably not the NICEST thing to say, but it is true, nevertheless. Take the Supreme Court of Connecticut as Exhibit A. In a recent court case, the all-knowing justices in that esteemed institution decided that, a horse belongs to “a species naturally inclined to cause mischief or be vicious.” Okay.

I’m not saying that a horse is entirely safe. As a matter of fact, horses are inherently dangerous. Any thousand pound bundle of muscle, nerves, and keratin is bound to cause damage from time to time. Anyone who has had a shod horse stand on his or her foot can attest to that. Animals of the equine sphere can cause damage without ever even trying.

Just this evening, I watched a horse, tied to a railroad tie on a long lead rope so he could eat grass, get tangled up in his tether. For many of us of the human race, we would stop and consider the situation. “It seems I am tangled in my tether. I must now untangle myself by analyzing the extent of my tangle and backing out of it to the point of newfound freedom.” A horse, on the other hand, skips the analysis part and fast forwards to the warning system that kicks on in his pea sized brain. It says, “Snake! Large, horse-eating snake! Run!”

The only problem is that if his legs are tangled, he feels as if the large, horse-eating snake has now trapped him and is engulfing his lower extremities. At that time, the “run” command becomes obsolete, and the “try-to-turn-your-half-ton-body-inside-out!” instinct takes over. With a thousand pounds of powerful fear trying to wear its own diaphragm as a saddle blanket, it is nearly impossible to approach the situation without becoming damaged. That horse broke the railroad tie off at the ground (yes, it was a bit on the decayed side).

The horse, according to centuries of observation and scientific discovery, is a prey animal. Unbeknownst to the justices on the Connecticut Supreme Court, a prey animal has two instincts when faced with a dilemma. They either fight, or they flee. This is all fine if the prey animal is a cottontail. Although anyone who has ever cornered a rabbit can tell you they become quite protective of their states of affairs when deprived of the option to flee. They can and will bite.

An animal the size of a horse, however, is a whole different ball of wax. If cornered and threatened, they respond with the fight instinct. This means they will bite, paw, kick, hit the aggressor with their jaws, or anything else. Sometimes, though, they simply decide to use the flee response and run over the threatening person, kicking him or her on the way by. Perhaps, they will wheel around and plant a couple of feet in the aggressor’s chest. The only problem is that they are strong. For crying out loud, we measure the power of an eighteen wheeled truck in horsepower!

The case that the Connecti-judges were handling when they handed down their verdict that horses are vicious was that of a small boy who tried to pet a horse that answered back by biting the boy’s cheek. Tough call. Was the horse being vicious? Certainly, he wasn’t fighting. He probably was not feeling cornered. More than likely, he was being ornery and disrespectful. That’s a whole different thing than vicious.

Those of us who have been bit by horses seldom let it happen more than once. The thing about it is horses bite for a lot of reasons, none because of them being vicious. They bite to establish dominance. It goes right to their pecking order, and sometimes they include a human in that order. There are some pretty good home remedies that cure that almost immediately. I’ve shod horses who turn around and nibble on my back. Horses do that to each other, too. It’s called grooming. Perhaps a horse is playing. There’s a number of reasons for a horse to bite.

However, it’s generally not because they are vicious. Once again, they are prey animals. Prey animals act differently than predators. People? They can be vicious. Cats? Definitely (oh, how I hate cats). Horses? Not generally, according to science.

However, a scared horse, a threatened horse, a bored horse, can be very dangerous. Why? They’re big. They’re strong. They lack reason. And they are fast. But to call them vicious is simply an uneducated statement.

It’s a little bit like when we Christians line up in opposition to a certain sin, yet turn a blind eye to our own. We call a big, scared, confused animal vicious and refuse to see the damage we are causing when we do that. In reality, our own “viciousness,” or sin, is every bit as dangerous and damaging. We’re all a bit off kilter. As a matter of fact, the Bible says we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

So instead of calling a scared animal vicious, why don’t we all figure out how to get through this deal together, to realize none of us is perfect, or even close. Jesus asks us in Matthew 7:4, “How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” Let’s realize we’ve all got a long way to go, but we have a Savior who wants to get us there without any name-calling or labeling. Let’s just follow him.

Daily Readings

Broken Horn Ranch Ministries has a mission of bringing Jesus to the Western World through western events and regular fellowship, introducing people to a real God who cares about their real lives.

Pendleton, Oregon--541-278-2301

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