Today’s Horse Facts: The Azteca – Full of Grace!

Do you know what an Azteca horse is? Check out this beautiful breed.

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The Azteca: Full of Grace

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(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

(Ephesians 2:8-9)

If you live in Mexico, you know what an Azteca (Azz-TECH-ah) horse is. Since the country of Mexico is only a little over 200 years old, you’d think the Azteca has been around for hundreds of years, as well. But this beautiful breed only appeared on the scene in 1972 when Mexican charros (cowboys) began to breed horses with great skill and lots of “cow sense” to work on their cattle ranches. The charros crossed Andalusians with their Quarter Horses and the little-known Criollo mares with amazing results.  This new breed, officially recognized by the Mexican Department of Agriculture in 1982, now had speed, strength, a sweet disposition with the desire to learn, and equine “grace.”  The Azteca became so popular, he’s now known as The National Horse of Mexico.

You might think a horse with all these excellent traits would be a huge brute, but the Azteca only averages from 14.2 to 16 hands.  He can be any color or combination of colors accepted in the American Quarter Horse Association and the American Paint Horse Association.  His head is a medium size with a broad forehead, alert eyes, and medium ears which are always twitching.  His muscular neck arches slightly, and this little beauty often has a long flowing mane and just as spectacular a tail.  Despite his “average” height, his free shoulders and hips allow him to be incredibly athletic and smooth to ride.

Whether you like English or Western style riding or whether you need a graceful dancer or cow horse, the Azteca might be just for you. How about if you enjoy jumping, dressage, driving, cutting, penning, or reining?  Or would you just love a wonderful companion for trail riding?  Take a good look at the Azteca.  He can do it all and do it well.  All of these skills create a horse full of grace that anyone would be proud to own.

There’s someone else who is full of grace too—the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, He has more grace than anyone ever had or ever will have. He has so much grace, He willingly shares it with us!

Do you know what the word “grace” means? One of the definitions describes grace as having mercy or forgiveness, and that’s exactly what Jesus did on the cross for us. He knew we could never be good enough to be allowed in heaven, so He died, rose from the dead, and is willing to save anyone by His grace. But there’s another important meaning of the word grace.

Grace also means thoughtfulness toward others. If someone has grace in his life, he shows kindness and generosity toward his family and friends, even when he doesn’t feel like it. As a Christian, when you show grace to others, your actions will show God how much you love Him and want to model your life after His. Then others might consider you as someone full of grace.

PRAYER: Dear God, I’m thankful Jesus shed His blood so I can go to heaven someday. As hard as I try, I know I can never be good enough to be ready for heaven. Now I know what grace really means, and I want to give to others with your help. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of the names of a few people who have shown grace to you and analyze in your heart how they did it. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  When Mexican breeders brought the Azteca to the United States, they crossbred him with American Paints to make a stunning, splashy horse called the American Azteca.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3: 18).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Azerbaijan

Have you ever heard of an Azerbaijan (AZ-ər-by-JAHN)? Not many people have. In fact, if you’d ask the average person, he might say he thinks an Azerbaijan is a type of insect or some disease!

The Azerbaijan: A Burden Lifter

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(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

(Galatians 6:2)

Have you ever heard of an Azerbaijan (AZ-ər-by-JAHN)? Not many people have. In fact, if you’d ask the average person, he might say he thinks an Azerbaijan is a type of insect or some disease!

The Azerbaijan horse, (once called a Kazakh), is as unknown as the country of Azerbaijan itself. This small republic lies just northwest of Iran in Asia. Although Azerbaijan is small, its people have great respect and pride for a powerful little horse that owes his roots to that part of the world. The little-known breed is a mountain-steppe racing and riding horse. These tough horses are known for living long lives and having great endurance. They do very well growing up in herds on mountainsides, and they’re strong with lots of spunk.

If you’d like to look at a handsome horse, the Azerbaijan will fit the bill. He usually comes in the solid colors of chestnut, bay, or gray.  He has a short head with a broad forehead and narrow nose, a really thick neck, and a strong body, and he runs fast with a pacing (rather fast steady) gait. He runs so fast the Azerbaijan folks often hold races. This little equine powder keg has been clocked at almost a mile in about three minutes!

Azerbaijans are also known for strength and stamina, working as pack horses to lighten heavy loads for the people who love them so much. The breed has unique characteristics that have made him a reliable burden bearer. Although he’s only about 11 to 12 hands, he can carry heavy loads on mountain trails and over the countryside with no problem. While carrying all that weight, he can go about 25 to 30 miles in one day!

Wow! The Azerbaijan certainly has the reputation of being a burden lifter. How about you? Do you help others and lift their burdens?

You might think, how can I lift burdens and heavy things? I’m just a kid.

Do you know the Bible teaches us to be burden lifters to our family and friends? Lifting burdens doesn’t always mean picking up heavy things as you would do to help someone move into a new house or maybe just to clean out a garage. When you’re a burden lifter, you’re an encourager. You’re someone who says kind words and does kind deeds to make others feel better.  To do this, you should be alert to your family’s and friends’ needs.

If someone is disappointed about something, do you ever offer kind words? Do you listen if your friend wants to tell you his troubles? These are ways even children can be burden lifters like the perky Azerbaijan.

Perhaps you don’t think about how others are feeling because you think about yourself too much. Or maybe you have too many of your own problems. Well, the Bible tells us that we’re to give our worries to the Lord Jesus, and He’ll help us. When we pray, ask for His strength, and give our burdens to Him, He’s ready to take them. God then gives us strength so we’re ready and able to lift burdens for those we love.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to not focus on myself all the time. Help me to be sensitive to the burdens of others, so I can offer to help. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of some family or friends who have burdens and how you can offer to help.

Take your ride: (Do you know?) The Azerbaijan has a peculiar lengthwise fold on his tongue, making it look like a forked (divided) tongue.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).



BOOK FIVE: BLUE RIBBON CHAMP

Foster kid Skye has her hands full, trying to help Down syndrome Joey learn to ride. Joey adores Skye, but she can’t stand him.

How’s a Christian gal to treat someone she doesn’t like?

         Blue Ribbon Champ

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Austrian Warmblood

The Austrian Warmblood comes from Austria, a country in Europe, long known for its outstanding horses

The Austrian Warmblood: A Loyal “Soldier”

Image result for austrian warmblood for sale

(Photo compliments of pinterest.com)

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

(2 Timothy 2:3)

The Austrian Warmblood comes from Austria, a country in Europe, long known for its outstanding horses. Like other Warmbloods, this stunning steed was developed as a super riding and competition horse. He has his roots in old Austrian cavalry (war) horses combined with the delicate Arabian and Warmblood sport horses, namely the Nonius and Furioso, both from Hungary.

In the mid-19th Century, the war horse/sport horse combination was crossed with Thoroughbreds and more Arabians to further refine the breed. And what a beauty emerged! From those came a horse suitable for classy dressage and show jumping as well as for trail riding.

Like many breeds in the mid-20th Century, the rise of machines, especially the automobile, caused the numbers of Warmbloods to decline. However to save the breed, Warmblood enthusiasts in Austria founded an organization in 1964 called the Association for Warmblood Breeding to promote the horse. Even so, the breed is still “battling” for recognition. It’s estimated only about 800 Austrian Warmbloods exist today.

This handsome horse has a height from 15.2 to 16.2 hands. Although solid colors of chestnut, grey, bay, and black are most desirable, a pinto studbook has been approved. (A studbook is a list of approved stallions available for breeding.)Whatever his color, the Austrian Warmblood has the reputation of having a pleasant character and a balanced temperament. If you see a Warmblood in action today, you’d never think this splashy mount could have been a warrior in battle hundreds of years ago, but that’s a fact.

The Warmblood has a history of being a good “soldier,” starting out in the Austrian cavalry. He had the reputation of being very loyal to his rider. Loyalty to the leader defines a good soldier.

How about you? Would you consider yourself a good soldier?

“I’m not in any army,” you might say. “How can I be a soldier?”

The Bible talks about Christians being good soldiers of Jesus Christ. If you love the Lord with all your heart, you’ll strive to be a good soldier by obeying God’s Word and doing the best you can every day. If you live to please God, then you are a good soldier. As you work hard to that end, remember to get your marching orders from the Bible, and you’ll be a loyal and faithful Christian, ready for the “battle” at hand.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to be a good soldier of Christ. I want to obey you and be a loyal follower. Give me the courage to tell others about Jesus and His love for them. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Have you ever thought of yourself as a soldier? Think of two things you can do to show others you are a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Take your ride: (Do you know?) The best way to recognize an Austrian Warmblood is by a brand, the letter “A,” placed on the left hip of foals.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

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Foster kid Skye Nicholson has her hands full training a wild Mustang and trying to help new foster kid, Wanda Stallord, who is rude and spiteful around everyone.

Today’s Horse Facts: The Arabian – “The China Doll of the Horse Kingdom”

The beautiful Arabian horse is known as “the China Doll of the Horse Kingdom.”

The Arabian: “The China Doll of the Horse Kingdom”

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(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
(1 Corinthians 4:2)

There’s not a horse lover anywhere who doesn’t drool when gazing at one of the most perfect creatures in the Animal Kingdom. Sometimes called “The China Doll of the Horse Kingdom,” the Arabian is known as an absolutely stunning horse because of his delicate features.

Researchers have long believed this breed is the oldest and purest. It’s not known for sure if it originated in Arabia, but evidence found in archaeological digs dates the Arabian back 4,500 years. Bible scholars believe the first horse God created in the Garden of Eden must have had the traits of strength and beauty seen in the Arabian today. It’s also a rarely debated fact that all other horse breeds descended from this gorgeous breed that also has stamina, courage, and intelligence.

A purebred Arabian is small in stature, only 14 or 15 hands. But don’t let his size fool you. He has strong endurance to tough circumstances and is extremely loyal to his rider. Other features that catch the eye of horse lovers include a delicate “dish” face with a broad forehead and tiny muzzle, two alert ears that point in, and large eyes that often have rings of black. He also has a graceful, arched neck and a high carriage in his tail. The breed can come in practically any color, including dappled and some paint, but you can know for sure if the horse is of Arabian blood if you run your finger against the grain of his coat and see an underlying bed of black skin. If that’s the case, then even an Arabian who might appear to be white is called a “gray.”

If you think you’d like to own an Arabian, it’s recommended that you have riding experience. Arabians, as gorgeous and loyal as they are, have a reputation of being high-spirited even after they’re well-trained and ridden for years. Your Arabian might take you on a ride you’ll never forget!

Many horse lovers think the combination of loyalty and high-spiritedness is a tremendous asset in any breed of horse. But are they two traits a Christian young person also should have in his or her life?

How about you? Do you consider yourself loyal to anything? To anyone?

Another word for loyal is “faithful.” A faithful Christian wants to please God by attending church, reading his Bible, and praying. A faithful young person will also stand up for God at school or with friends. Do you stand up for God or are you ashamed you are a Christian?

Do you consider yourself high-spirited?

One definition of “high-spirited” is to be lively and full of fun. If you’re full of fun and pleasant when others are around, you’re the best kind of high-spirited person. Everyone loves someone who has joy in his or her heart and wants to do right, no matter the circumstances.

So, if you want to be like the classy Arabian, determine to be faithful to God. Work hard to develop an excitement deep in your soul to do right and make up your mind to smile while you’re doing it.

PRAYER:

Dear God, please help me to be faithful and joyful in my church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer.

I want to please you in everything I do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP! (What would God have you do now?)

Are there any chores you must do that make it hard for you to be faithful when doing them? Do you do them with a joyful spirit?

Think about your chores and how you can improve.

(SIDEBAR 1:)
Take your ride: (Do you know?)

The Arabian is classified as a hot-blooded breed, a category that includes delicate, spirited horses bred for speed.

(SIDEBAR 2:)
Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)

“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Psalm 35:9).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Andalusian – Fit for a King

The Andalusian horse has always been known for its incredible athletic ability as a war horse. But how is he used today?

The Andalusian: Fit for a King

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(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

The Andalusian horse is a real beauty, standing between 15 and 16.2 hands. This breed is most often gray or bay (a shade of brown with a black mane, black tail, and often black legs below the knee) in color, but once in a while you might see a white, black, or chestnut Andalusian prancing by. He’s well built with a finely sculptured head, alert ears, lively yet kind eyes, an elegant arched neck, and a long and often wavy mane and tail. This horse descended from the horses of Spain and Portugal and derives its name from Andalusia, a region in southern Spain, where its ancestors lived for thousands of years. He’s also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or P.R.E. (Pura Raza Española).

This magnificent breed has been recognized since the 15th Century, and its conformation has changed very little over the centuries. From the very beginning, Andalusians have been used for both riding and driving. Among the first horses used for dressage, they’re still making a mark in that international competition today.

The Andalusian has always been known for its incredible athletic ability as a war horse.   The Quarter Horse and other breeds noted for their “cow sense” inherited this ability from their Andalusian ancestors. (Horses with “cow sense” are good at anticipating the next move of cattle they are trying to corner or single out of a herd, particularly to cutting horses. They seem to understand cattle and can almost read their minds.)

Also, bull owners gave the Andalusian its reputation as the greatest athlete and stock-working animal in the equine world. In Spain, cowboys have long used them in handling the bulls, which can be quite ornery. Many other horse breeds run the opposite direction from these dangerous animals; yet, Andalusians seem to delight in confronting a nasty bull. With the incredible speed, they can maneuver stealthily, dodging in and out and barely missing the hooking horns when the bull charges.

Andalusian blood has had a strong influence on almost every breed in ancient times. But most interesting is the fact that Andalusians became a favorite for kings and knights, mostly because of the horse’s regal carriage and high step. Although the Andalusian has always been very expensive, a wealthy knight would never be found plodding along on a lazy, low-headed mount. The prancing Andalusian had to have an arched neck to be chosen to carry royalty.

It’s no surprise this horse is nicknamed “The Horse of Kings.” The breed was so respected, a quote spoken over 300 years ago by William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, has also stood the tests of time: “… the noblest horse in the world, the most beautiful that can be. He is of great spirit and of great courage and docile; hath the proudest trot and the best action in his trot, the loftiest gallop, and is the lovingest and gentlest horse, and fittest of all for a king in his day of triumph.” [1] The Andalusian truly is a horse fit for a king!

How about you? Are you fit for a king?

“Fit for a king?” you might say. “I’ve never even met a king or a president. How can I be fit for a king?”

I’m talking about the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you “fit” for that King?

The Bible says when we accept Jesus as our Savior, He becomes the “King” of our lives. Subjects who love their king (or leader) try to please him with their good deeds and loyalty. If you’re a young Christian, your desire should be to please God with everything you do and say.

Are you sure that activity you want to do will please God? The best way to serve your King is to read His word, go to church, and pray. When you pray, ask God for His guidance, and He’ll help you every day.

 “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.”

(Psalm 5:2 NIV)

PRAYER: Dear God, I want to please you and honor you as my King. Help me to always remember I serve the King of kings and Lord of lords and that I want to be a faithful follower of you. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Write three things you could do that would show Jesus that He’s the King of your life. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Take your ride: (Do you know?) The Iberian and Celtiberian soldiers of the famous Carthaginian horse troops used magnificent Andalusians to carry the Roman army in its conquests throughout the ancient world.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1: 17).

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andalusian_horse

 

Today’s Horse Facts: The American Warmblood

The American Warmblood: Not a Cold Spot in his Heart

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(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

Here’s another American original with his roots as late as the 1980s!  The American Warmblood is usually between 15 and 17 hands high, weighs 1,350 pounds, which is 325 pounds heavier than the average horse breed, and may come in any color, though the solid colors are the most common. All kinds of horses can be registered as American Warmbloods as long as they are of a sport horse or warmblood type. No pure hotbloods or coldbloods can be included in this exclusive club. So what’s a “warmblood type?” And how about a hotblood and a coldblood?

If you go shopping for an American Warmblood, you’d look for a horse that has the registry standards of draft horses (coldbloods), Arabians, and Thoroughbreds (both hotbloods). In other words, the Warmblood is a combination of the three.

Let’s take a time-out and make sure we understand the difference between coldbloods and hotbloods.

Coldbloods are your power horses, those big guys who pull really heavy loads like tree trunks for loggers, plow fields, or plod with a stagecoach behind them in a parade. “The Big Four of the Draft World,” Belgians, Percherons, Shires, and Clydesdales, have the reputation of not only strength but also a laid-back, gentle disposition.

Hotbloods like the Arabians and Thoroughbreds are the complete opposite. They jump at the chance to run fast, have a high-spirited temperament, and, although they’re loyal, can be spooked easily. Hotbloods set their sights on the finish line and chafe at the bit to get there.

Now, back to our Warmblood. He has no major health issues and is usually alert, calm yet energetic, obedient, and eager to please. In other words, he’s just a nice guy. He’s also a multi-tasker. You might buy this breed to ride in dressage, general riding, jumping, or mounted athletics activities; yet, the breed is a very popular draft horse, seen in harness in parades and show competitions.

Wow, a horse so trustworthy, you can sit in a wagon and let him pull you around the countryside or down a noisy street in a parade? There’s a reason he’s called a Warmblood. He’s tender, and he aims to please the folks who love him. In other words, he doesn’t have a cold spot anywhere in his heart.

How about you? Would your friends and family consider you “warm-blooded?” Are you kind and gentle to those around you, or are you a complainer? Do you try your best to please others like the American Warmblood, or do you lose your temper when you don’t get your own way?

This horse has a “warm” servant’s heart and wants to do the best job he can. Maybe you never thought about the condition of your heart before. If it’s “warm,” you’ll try hard to please your family and friends … with a good attitude. However, if there’s a cold spot in your heart, big or small, perhaps it’s time to ask God to help you get rid of anything in your heart that would cause you to disappoint Him and others. The best way to start is to read and study God’s Word. Then God can change you from the inside out.

“May my heart be blameless toward your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.”

(Psalm 119:80 NIV)

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have a “warm” heart toward others. Help me to love my family and friends and put their interests ahead of mine. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

List some things you could do for your family and friends to show them and God you have a “warm” heart. _______________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________

Take your ride: (Do you know?) Hot blooded horses have lighter bodies and a passion to run more than other breeds, which makes them ideal race horses. But they’re often high strung or fiery tempered. Thoroughbreds and Arabians are the only recognized hot blooded breeds. Cold bloods are large, gentle horses and are descendants of the ancient European breeds used for farming, hauling and other types of heavy work. Draft horses, Friesians, and Haflingers are members of the cold blooded family.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24).

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Today’s Horse Fact: The American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour for short distances like a quarter of a mile.

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH

The American Quarter Horse – Fast as Lightning

(The 5th devotional from my latest project seeking a publisher)

This little equine isn’t a quarter of a horse. He’s all horse, and he’s an All-American!

Way, way back in the late 1700s, the colonists in Virginia met a new kind of a horse, as fast as lightning. The stocky, muscular horse was a cross between Mustangs, which Native Americans rode, and the English horses brought to the New World in earlier years. The small sturdy horse in any color or combination of colors, quick, smart, and eager to work, captivated the hearts of the colonists. But working hard didn’t attract the horse’s fancy as much as racing.

How did he get his name? In early colonial days, race tracks didn’t exist, so the colonists made their own “track,” clearing out a straight, flat stretch of land about a quarter of a mile long. The new horse on the block amazed everyone by achieving speeds of up to 55 miles per hour over that short stint. Beyond that distance, the Thoroughbred always won. But because of the little horse’s dominance of the quarter mile track, he became known as the Quarter Horse.

With its eager yet gentle nature, the Quarter Horse has become one of the most popular riding horses in America. Early Americans discovered the breed worked well on the farm and seemed to have a natural instinct for working around cattle. So, in the 1800s when the settlers began migrating to the West, the Quarter Horse became the choice of the early cowboys for ranching and cattle roundups. Before long, rodeos emerged as a popular pastime, and cowboys soon realized the little Quarter Horse excelled at events like calf roping and barrel racing. The horse became so predominant, a group of horsemen and ranchers formed the American Quarter Horse Association in 1940 and made the special equine its own breed.

Today, the Quarter Horse has won the hearts of horse lovers all over the world. With about five million registered in America alone, it’s no wonder the American Quarter Horse is the number one breed in the United States. Who wouldn’t want to own a stocky, little horse with a gentle nature but fast as lightning?

Speaking of lightning, there are at least a dozen verses in the Bible about lightning. One of the most encouraging verses is found in the book of Matthew that tells us Jesus is going to come back to earth some day for everyone who believes in Him as Savior. He’ll come as fast as lightning and call all Christians to meet him in the air and go with him to Heaven. The Bible tells us to always be ready to meet Jesus and to keep looking for His return.

What about you? Do you know Jesus is coming back again for everyone who believes in Him? Are you anxious to see Jesus face to face?

There’s one way to be ready. If you’re a Christian, keep looking up and watch for Jesus to come as fast as lightning!

“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be”.

 (Matthew 24:27)

PRAYER: Dear God, please forgive me when I sin and give in to temptation. I want to be ready to meet you when you come for us Christians. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP! (What would God have you do now?)

Is there any sin or wrong doing that seems to trouble you and you find hard to give up? More than one? Maybe it’s time to ask God to forgive you and help you fight the temptation.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Although Quarter Horses can come in any color or combination of colors, the most prominent color is sorrel (reddish brown) or chestnut.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).