The Purpose of Trials, Black Beauty
In the early days of our adventures in God through Heathermoor Farm, we had our first crop of colts from our beautiful stallion Richlieu Firefly. We had come to own this eleven year old stallion in an unusual way, as we did every other horse we had. But, I will tell you about that another time. We had just acquired our two “big time” mares, Denmark’s Touch of Genius whom we called Peggy because she had a peg leg, and Lady Jane Denmark, or Doll. The rest of the herd was made up of Mailee Dare, Sparking Blade and Grassland’s Dream who we called Kitty. Since Mailee Dare was Richlieu’s daughter, we could not breed her to Richlieu so the other mares were in his harem. The next spring, on Easter Sunday, little Kitty foaled a beautiful high-headed chestnut foal that we named Heathermoor’s Easter Firefly. Our beautiful bay Peggy also foaled a jet black handsome colt except for a small star on his forehead, just like the beloved Black Beauty of Anna Sewell’s novel. We called him Heathermoor’s Black Beauty. He had Peggy’s long neck and size and was truly beautiful. Poor Sparkle had a tragedy and her newborn foal drowned in the lake.
Black Beauty had a mind of his own. I tried to ride him once. Then John had a try with him and he threw John so high that he went up to the end of the reins and pulled the bridle right off his head! Richard, our second son, had a relaxed, gentle way with the horses. As a small boy he had exhibited Mailee in the local horse shows. She was a large mare and Richard’s legs hardly came to Mailee’s round sides. In order to tell what canter lead he was on, he would hang over the correct shoulder to see if the proper leg was forward and the audience would gasp as he suspended his small body in the air. But Richard never fell off.
So, Richard became our chief colt rider by the time he was twelve years old. We decided it was his time to tackle Black Beauty. I roped off a small area next to the barn because we didn’t have a round pen at that time. I put Black Beauty on the lounge with Richard on him. That same spell Richard seemed to have over animals prevailed and Black Beauty was not in the least offended by this boy’s presence on his back. After Richard had several successful rides on the colt I decided to give him a try. I got on him in the stall by standing on the tall board and stepping over onto his back and rode him outside the stall to the ring. Everything went well as we made several passes around the track and then suddenly – I can still feel it as vividly as if it were yesterday -the muddy ground was flying up at my face and Black Beauty was in another place from where I was. My ankle was in a funny position, but I finally hobbled back to the barn and shortly ended up in a cast.
Since we were so out of the horse country and were unknown we decided to sell the two coming two-year olds at Tatterstalls Spring Sale in Lexington, Kentucky. This was the very first product of Heathermoor Farm. The Farm had started as an adventure in faith and was off to a pretty good start in the way of impossibilities happening so I was sure that our beautiful colts would bring a respectable price. However, we had a problem as Black Beauty couldn’t be ridden except by a twelve-year old boy. The sale is the place where horses are sold “as is” and no guarantees are necessary. It would have sounded good to say Black Beauty could be ridden by a twelve-year-old boy, but that would have been misleading. Easter was younger and smaller than Beauty, so we hadn’t even tried to do anything with him as yet. We decided to just lead the colts through the sale and sell them at halter. That way the new owner would know he was dealing with unbroken colts.
John and Mike took the two colts to the sale. They were truly elegant colts and I sent them off with high hopes. As it turned out Black Beauty was the highest selling colt at the sale, but instead of the thousand dollars I was expecting, he brought only six hundred and Easter only three hundred. I was so disappointed. At that time in my life the pain of adverse things was so great to me that I would lash out at anything I could. I just didn’t know how to control myself. The only one besides John that was there to unload my anger on was God, and so I complained bitterly to Him that He had let me down. But my gracious Heavenly Father, the Creator of the whole universe and me, who could have zapped me to Kingdom Come or turned His back on me forever, did neither. Soon that still quiet voice brought a verse to my mind. – Romans 8:28-29:
All things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.
I knew that part well. Indeed to me that verse should have assured that those colts sold well. Yet somehow the next verse had been hidden from my understanding, and the Holy Spirit began to speak it to me then:
For those whom He called He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.
The truth of that verse suddenly stung me. So that was the purpose of everything! It was not that we should have great success in the horse business, although that could happen, but the main thing was that the circumstances of life were designed to mold me into the image of His Son! The very purpose of this event had been to show me this truth and whittle away at this anger I had when I didn’t get my way. The greatest success we could have would be when the “fruit of the Spirit” which is love, joy, and peace, the character of Jesus, should be manifested in our life. When these lovely fruits are blooming in our heart then nothing life throws at us could upset us.
I didn’t learn this lesson perfectly at this time by any means, but I had the understanding of it. The blue print of this truth had been laid out in my heart.
As for the fate of the colts: We later read in The National Horseman that Black Beauty had been sold to a farm in the North and was their Fine Harness prospect. I wondered if it was because they tried to ride him? Easter became a champion in the west. His owner later came all the way to Alabama to see his dam and look for a show horse prospect like him.