Tricker was the family pony. We all had to start out riding him. He was a black and white pinto with four white socks and a triangle of white on his rump, just over his tail. He was ornery as the day was long. He would try your patience and literally play every trick on you that he knew to chase you around the field so he didn’t get caught, or make like he was going to kick you, or when you were riding him he would find a nice low branch to try to get you off his back. There were many times when Tricker would be cantering along on a trail and for no reason at all, make a sideways jump and off you would go, only to look up and see him snorting, shaking his head, and bucking as he galloped off, not even caring to look back.
That’s how we learned to ride. One of my earliest memories was sitting on Tricker as a baby, not even walking yet. I kid you not, we were in the back yard and I remember my brother Chuck setting me up on Tricker and held me while Dad led us around the yard. It is key to my claim that I was riding horses before I could walk. It’s true. One day, my buddy Sonny came over and I asked him if he wanted to take turns riding Tricker. He was quite excited about the idea, but first we had to catch him. We took the halter and a bucket with some grain out and approached him. “Here Tricker, Tricker, Tricker,” I said while slyly showing him the grain in the bucket by picking it up and letting it slip back in through my fingers.
Tricker would play the game for a bit. Ears up, nose forward, he sweetly acted like he was taking the bait. Then suddenly, ears back and mouth open ready to bite, he rushed us. We dropped the bucket and ran, Tricker chasing behind us head down, bucking and farting until he knew we were far enough away from the bucket. Then he calmly trotted back and ate the grain. We were at an end of what to do when I asked my brother Larry to catch him. Like usual, Larry just went out there and called him. Tricker came up to him and lowered his head, let Larry put the halter on him and lead him to the barn. Larry had to go somewhere and he was running late so he told us we would have to saddle Tricker ourselves.
Once again, the pony was up to no good. He acted like he wanted to bite us. Then he acted like he wanted to kick us. Then, as we persisted through the struggle, we got the saddle on and led him out of the barn, not noticing a small detail. I went to put my foot in the stirrup and lo and behold the saddle was actually on backwards. We had to start all over again. Finally, we got to ride Tricker a few rounds before Sonny’s mom came to pick him up. I’m sure the brother of Jesus, James, knew about ponies like Tricker when he used the example of controlling our tongues. In James 3:3, he wrote, “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us.” It’s the getting the bit in the mouth of that unruly horse that may be the biggest challenge. And so it is with us as humans, too!