Website Review: EquestrianMinistries.com

While leafing through the York County Agri-Tourism Guide recently (don’t ask), I came across a small ad for the Equestrian Ministries Drill Team. This is a group of horsemen – fanciers, not centaurs – who “want to share the gospel with other horsemen in our area. We perform at rodeos, churches, horse councils, really anywhere the Lord leads us.” The associated website, www.equestrianministriessaddleclub.com, seemed like a great candidate for my weekly Website Review. And maybe I’d learn what a “horse council” was, since I’m having a hard time imagining these noble beasts in a deliberative setting.

First, I should probably reveal some preconceptions I had going into this effort. I’ve never really associated horses with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was born and raised a good Lutheran, so I know a little something about His life and times, and I must say that I can’t honestly recall a significant equine influence.

I know Christ was born in a manger, where you’d think there’d be some horses running around, but the plastic crèche my family hauled out every Christmas had only cows, sheep and maybe a donkey or two. Little is known about His childhood and adolescence, though I suppose a more-thorough Biblical account could’ve contained a chapter titled “The Equestrian Years.” Maybe it’s in the Apocrypha. As His ministry emerged during His adult years, there always seemed to be plenty of lambs and doves around, and we know how He could transform a single fish into a meal for the multitudes. (If He did the same thing for horses, might that be the horse council?)

As we remember His final days during this holy week before Easter, I do vaguely recall some pictures from a Sunday School coloring book where Jesus was riding a mule in the Palm Sunday procession, but I think He was riding side-saddle and I can’t imagine today’s Christian horsemen endorsing that. I know for a fact there were no horses at the Last Supper, no horses in Gethsemane, and no horses at Calvary. (Unrelated side point: Can you imagine the difficult logistics of crucifying a horse?) Some velvet painting artists do imagine an ascension into Heaven on the back of a unicorn, though I think this is highly speculative at best.

Even in popular culture references, horses and evangelical Christianity never seemed to mix. Mr. Ed was obviously Jewish, the Lone Ranger’s Silver was probably Mormon, and Tonto’s Scout was obviously an animist like his loyal rider. Secretariat, widely believe to be gay, could’ve been a member of one of those metropolitan community churches, but that’s not the brand of Christianity these guys in South Carolina had in mind. Let’s go to the website to see some of what it is they do believe.

The Equestrian Ministries Saddle Club starts immediately with a recruiting pitch on its home page: “Do you love Jesus Christ and want to share with others how they can have a personal relationship with Christ? Do you love horses? Do you love to ride, care for and be around this most magnificent animal?”

EMSC offers training to help you be prepared to share your faith at equestrian events. “Through this training, you learn to minister at a campground, whether you ride horses or not; witness and minister at rodeos, races and horse shows; or serve as a chaplain at your local stable.” Apparently horses must experience salvation in this life in order to get into Horse Heaven. I remember something from confirmation class about camels being unable to get through the eye of a needle, so I guess it seems natural that the same would apply to horses.

One of the more enjoyable ways that club members use to spread their faith is through their drill team. This is where the righteous riders parade about on horseback while swinging multi-colored flags high over their heads, hopefully without gouging out the eyes of their mounts. The colors represent the plan of salvation – blue for sky, red for Jesus’ blood, white for purity, black for sin, green for spiritual growth, and yellow for … I’m going to say bananas. “We use Christian and Bluegrass music. We are always looking for new stuff. We are self taught. With many mistakes in the beginning, our team motto is ‘follow your leader.’ Thursday practices are stress relief with fellowship.”

There’s also a PDF of the February club newsletter that gives some behind-the-scenes insight into how that fellowship manifests itself on a regular basis. Typed in all caps to emphasize that it truly is the Word of God (Who apparently didn’t use spellcheck), I’ll offer some excerpts here:

WOW! OUR DRILL TEAM PERFORMED SATURDAY AND ALL WENT WELL. WE HAD WITNESS BRACLETS (bracelets) AND HANDED OUT TRACKS (tracts) IN THE CROWD AFTER OUR PERFORMANCE. WE ARE SO PROUD OF OUR KORI FOR COWGIRLING UP WITH THE AMERICAN FLAG. YOU GO GIRL. WE HAD A GOOD CROWD AT OUR FEURARY (February) MEETING. WE ALL LOVE TO EAT SO COOKING CHICKEN AND DUMPLINS (dumplings) WAS A GREAT IDEA. HATS OFF TO WANDA.WE HAD A FABOULOUS (fabulous) DEVOTION ON BEING PERSISTANT (persistent) IN OUR PRAYERS. WE HAD A GRAT (great? grating? grave?) TIME OF SHARING. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CELL PHONE ON YOUR BODY.

The memo board section makes mention of members and friends who are having troubles and need “prayer concerns.” LINDA WALKER KNEE REPLACEMENT, DANIEL BARRETT LAP BAND, SHERRY CONNOR BACK SURGERY, TED AND WANDA FINANCIAL, SYLVIA BROWN’S BABY HORSE HAS A VIRUS. For those of you unfamiliar with the condition, I believe “lap band” is either a gastric bypass procedure or an aggregation of mites in your crotch. I suspect it’s the latter, considering how these folks are regularly sitting astride the hide of a farm animal.

There’s really not much more to the primitive website than this. There are minutes to a meeting where it was agreed the “lack of horsemanship” at a recent parade should be met with a letter of concern to the organizers. There’s a “sermon from the saddle” with typically cryptic Bible verses: “Even though I don’t care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” There’s a horse trailer for sale for $1500 (842-7424, ask for Wilbur).

Maybe it’s because today is Good Friday, but I feel a little guilty making fun of these earnest country folk and their beloved steeds. It’s healthy and admirable to have some fervor in life; I’m just not sure you necessarily have to combine your hobbies when there’s more than one. I like both blogging and running, yet I don’t feel compelled (or safe) doing them both at the same time.

I’m going to end this post in the spirit of Easter and wish the Equestrian Ministries Saddle Club all the best as they pursue their passion for the one who carries them from the hardships of this life to a spiritual height where peace and love are all-consuming. And I hope the Christianity thing works out for them too.

 

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10 Responses to “Website Review: EquestrianMinistries.com”

  1. Skip Dekades Says:

    This is hysterical. Nice job.

  2. alantru Says:

    This is intriguing and very enlightening. I never knew any of this – and in my circles, I am considered an expert on the subject of Mormons and Tonto. I shall go to Wikipedia and add these post haste. Thank you, Davis. Thank you.

  3. urban lounge online Says:

    Horse Heaven….LOL……this sounds like the makings of some kind of horse cult

  4. delicate flower Says:

    Laughed so loud, that i almost spit half-masticated blueberries on my laptop …
    love the made up description for ‘lap band’. Crotch mites!
    And, to think you dared to write this on Good Friday? bless you.
    df

  5. Alan G Says:

    Well of course I had to go check out the intriguing showcased website. Why else would you have included the link it in your weekly website review?

    I was relieved in reading through the organization’s requirements for membership that owning a horse was not a prerequisite. Always suspicious of these type organizations, I thought they might require your horse to be baptized or….perhaps they were selling baptized horses and that you were required to purchase one of those. But as you pointed out, it seems there were no underlying motives associated with their cause.

    Then, as a passing thought, for some reason it occurred to me that if having a horse was not a requirement and I were to ultimately become president of this organization…..would I not be a “horseless headman” which, of course, is just the opposite of…..well, you know! 🙂

  6. Kevin Says:

    I was walking home from work and blogging late last night, when I tripped and fell into a pile of… just kidding. Great post. Absolutely had to check out the site. There’s even more fodder there than you ran with. But seriously, I was thinking about combining a few of my hobbies the other day… just couldn’t quite figure out how to meld scuba, bowling, and blogging… or any combo of the three. Any ideas?

    Will definitely be reading your posts from now on. Great stuff!

  7. mtinnkeeper Says:

    puts some giddyup in your git along
    gp

  8. Betty @ flower Says:

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  9. Ted Seyal Says:

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  10. I hate this part Music Says:

    Hi just passed by consedince while looking for a song in some blogs 🙂 anyway nice blog gotta check it out hope you accept me as a follower and a friend blogger. thanks ^^

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