She was sixteen, blonde, blue-eyed and indulged.
He was four, sixteen hands, chestnut and exploited.
They met at Still Waters Ranch.
“Mindy, meet Cassidy. Cassidy, Mindy.” Sandy, the Ranch boss, introduced them.
“What’s his problem anyway?” Mindy whined, tossing her hair.
The gelding was shivering in the hot afternoon sun, his coat dull and dusty.
“Cassidy was a race horse. Unfortunately, his trainer liked to use heroine to enhance his performance. The poor guy was addicted. He’s just about over the worst of it and he’s your responsibility while you’re here.”
“Whatever. I’ve been riding since I was four,” she gave the hair another toss accompanied by a petulant eye roll.
“Yeah, but have you ever used one of these?” Sandy tossed her a pitchfork. “Dinner’s at 6:00. If the paddock passes inspection you get to eat.” He turned on his cowboy-clad heel and left her to the manure.
She reluctantly opened the gate and wheeled the barrow in. Cassidy didn’t even raise his head.
Mindy looked around. Past the ranch house and barn, where irrigation brought life, there was nothing but red dirt and scrub trees. No cell coverage, no internet, no electricity after seven at night, no television, one hundred-fifty miles to the nearest road: it looked like she was going to serve all ninety days.
She glanced at the black Hummer parked in front of the ranch house. It was a constant reminder of why she was here.
She totaled her dad’s Navigator. He chose to overlook the second DUI in a month, but when the cops found cocaine, things really hit the fan. Her parents had her arrested. She would have been in Juvenile Detention if her lawyer hadn’t suggested the ranch as an alternative.
Mindy walked over to the nearest pile of manure. Making a face, she scooped it up. For the next hour she cruised the three-acre paddock filling the wheelbarrow.
By week three, Mindy was in the groove of things. Her entire day was centered around Cassidy and his needs. He ate before her, he was bathed before her, he was even settled in for the night before her. Yet, despite all the care and effort Mindy put into his wellbeing, Cassidy ignored her.
“I do everything for that horse and he acts like I don’t exist!” she complained to Sandy one night. “Sure, if he’s tied up he’ll stand to be brushed, but anytime he’s loose he doesn’t come near me. What can I do to make him want to be with me?”
“Just keep doing what you’re doing. He may choose to trust you, he may not. He has free will just like you, Mindy.” Sandy looked compassionately at the young woman.
“It says in Isaiah 65, ‘I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask. I’m here, ready to be found by those who haven’t bothered to look.’”
He paused in silent prayer then added, “God pursues us with an everlasting love. He takes care of all our needs and, for the most part, He gets very little of our attention. Maybe you should ask Him what to do.” Sandy left Mindy alone to think about it.
She looked at the gelding. His coat was shining in health. He had conquered the heroine addiction. The hours she spent brushing him didn’t hurt either. She glanced down at her own hands. They hadn’t worked a day in her life till now. She felt strong, useful, needed, and at the same time, sad. She cared about Cassidy and he didn’t seem to care about her at all. Sandy’s words stung Mindy deep in her center. She could relate to God for the first time in her life.
“God, I’m sorry I’ve ignored you. I know You’ve looked out for me. Forgive me?” Tears came unexpectedly. She gave into them dropping her head onto the fence. “Help me to change. Show me how to reach Cassidy.”
She felt an unfamiliar warmth surround her. And then moist breath and a soft muzzle were mussing up her hair. She held her breath. Hoping not to scare the gelding, she slowly stretched out her hand and found the long soft neck she knew so well.
Isaiah 65:1a The Message
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