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Empty Water Troughs and Grumpy Ponies

It was evening at the Ranch and the sun was starting its descent over the trees. I was walking around each pasture, double-checking gate latches, making sure electric fences were on and horses had water. It had been a long, exhausting day. After morning chores, I spent the day rushing around to various meetings and errands before returning in time to work with a horse and complete our evening feed time.

I had hoped it would be a quick 30-minute session before knocking out chores and returning home. An hour and a half later, I was returning the horse to his pasture, sweaty and weary with, what felt like, a mountain of chores left to do. My mood slowly shifted from discouraged to flat-out grumpy as feed was spilled, bales were dropped, and our sweet barn cats tripped me up by weaving between my legs.

And now as I circled the pastures, I was FINALLY finished! I was so ready to go home to my husband, take a shower, maybe watch some TV before bed...wait, did I check the other trough? I looked over towards the last pasture. Of course, it had to be full. I was sure I had topped it off this morning. Surely, they had enough to last until I was back in the morning. With an exasperated sigh, I went to check the trough anyway. Leaving horses without water can have dangerous consequences and I never wanted to assume without seeing it with my eyes first.

I trudged over to the trough, pleading for it to be full. Not even bothering to walk the full distance over, I stood on tiptoes several feet away to peek over the fence.


Defeated, I set off on the short walk to turn the water on. Since there were 5 horses in this pasture, I had to wait for the trough to fill to the brim to ensure that they had enough water for the night. It would take 30 minutes to fill the trough. I had some time to kill.

Grumpily, I leaned against the fence and glared at the trough, willing the water to gush out quicker so I could go HOME. The meetings had been mentally exhausting and the training session had left me disappointed in myself. Horses have a knack for finding our weak areas and pointing them out to us and it felt like my weaknesses had been blared at me in giant neon lights. My thoughts were filled with self-pity and frustration as I furiously scrolled through Instagram, trying to distract my tired mind.

The water continued to splash into the trough at a snail's pace and I heard nearby footsteps. I glanced up to see our pony, Pogo, come to investigate his water situation. "Hey Pogo." I greeted him in a flat voice. Pogo stuck his nose in the trough to take a sip and lifted his head, dribbling water and licking his lips. I grinned and turned back to my phone.

Pogo took a few steps towards me so that he could sniff my hand- inspecting for treats, no doubt. I smiled and rubbed his forehead, expecting him to walk away to continue eating hay. To my surprise, our normally reclusive pony didn't move. Settling himself by the fence next to me, Pogo shifted his weight and relaxed. Curiously, I took the sight in.

Being an older pony, Pogo is known to be grumpy himself. He is saintly with our children but will purposely push my buttons and test my boundaries. I respect Pogo for his hard work but we have never been best friends. I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart. "Pogo knows what it is to be grumpy. And maybe he knows in those moments when our mood is bad, we need a compassionate friend to be present."

Putting my phone away, I leaned against the fence next to my unexpected friend and let the moment sink in. As human beings, we will oftentimes let our emotions dictate our moods. Even though we are called to "count it all joy" (James 1:2-4) it can be so easy to allow the tide of weariness, frustration, or anxiety to carry us away. When my mind was weary, weaknesses exacerbated, and frustration heightened I had allowed my heart to turn to anger rather than running to my Heavenly Father for help. Despite that, I felt like God was showing me through Pogo that He does not abandon us in our ever-shifting moods and emotions. He is steady, present in our weaknesses, and ready to give us help if we choose to ask for it.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." -Psalm 28:7

The Lord will use anything He wishes, even a grumpy pony and an empty water trough, to show His children His love. He does not distance Himself when we are in bad moods and are unpleasant to be around. He is so near. I pray that you feel His nearness today.

"The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." -Psalm 121:5-8

Written by Rachel Moore, Ranch Assistant

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1 Comment

Gillian Guin
Gillian Guin
Oct 02, 2023

This is awesome! Leave it to the horses to teach US lessons.

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