July 13, 2024

By Laurie Stiegelmeier

Chexy is only 7 and doesn’t yet know the Rosary. Because she still needs consistent guidance and reassurance from me, I must stay focused on her rather than prayer, much like Yenta did until she was past 10 years.

When I bought Yenta, she was with foal for the second time, having been accidentally bred at 1 year of age and again at 2. Since she was still growing and developing herself, having two foals so young was very hard on her body and sapped her energy. She seemed like a very calm, quiet horse. But after her foal was weaned and she had time to grow and regain her strength, I discovered she was a bronc at heart! I was starting young horses for people; after a day of riding two or three of them for the first time in their lives, I’d take Yenta out for a relaxing ride—and find she was the biggest challenge of the day.

But as we journeyed through space and time together, Yenta and I developed a friendship so strong that she freely chose to bend her will to mine. For many years I noticed she was so finely tuned to me that she knew what I wanted before I asked. Then I was able to pray as I rode, with a rosary made from a long, knotted strip of leather kept looped around my saddle horn.

Because a rider is always nonverbally communicating to their horse, to concentrate I prayed the Rosary out loud. The Glory Be seemed so joyous we had to gallop. Yenta quickly learned the words and as soon as I said “glory,” she was off and running with no other cue. When I announced the mystery, she slowed to a walk for meditating. This was remarkable because the gallop was her favorite way to travel. When I shared this with a friend, she said “I should have known you’d even have a good Catholic horse!”

During the last three years I rode Yenta, I could loop the reins around the saddle horn and ride without them (unless they were necessary to remind her not to sample from cornfields), even testing by asking for a circle or figure eight or serpentine every now and then on the trail. It seemed to me that her mind was totally my mind, and it made me a little sad as if time had robbed her of something. Then I thought of my relationship with God and understood that time had been generous. I, too, lacked impulse control, tested God, stiffened my neck, openly defied him … yet trust and friendship grew through trials and his patience with me. Rather than offend him, I want to please him, not out of fear but because of love.

But I’m still not perfect, so I pray to be as obedient to God as my good Yenta was to me, to serve him willingly and obediently—to go when I’d rather stay, walk when I want to run, run when I’d rather walk, stop when I’d rather go, and calmly face anything in my path because of my confidence in him. I pray to be as sensitive and responsive to the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit as Yenta was to mine. My desire is to unite my will so closely to God’s that I don’t have one of my own. 

Just as I only wanted good for Yenta during the 28 years we spent together until her death at age 30, I can trust that God is in control and desires good for me. When I turn the reins of my life over to him, I experience the peace of his kingdom on earth.

“…thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

 

Laurie Stiegelmeier is active in faith formation for all ages at St. John de Britto church, Britton/Pastorate 5. Above career and volunteer work, being a mother and grandmother is the most important and rewarding “job” she has ever held.