Are You a Cowy Christian?

I’ll never forget that morning at a ranch near Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I’d seen cowboys and their horses work in the movies and thought how skillful the cowboy was; until I saw it up close and personal. If you’ve never seen a cutting horse at work, ridden by a capable and skilled rider, you are missing a thing of beauty. What I came to learn that day was how the horse and cowboy worked as a team. As I watched them work together, it amazed me to see how they fed off one another.

Once selected, I can only describe the cutting process (separating an individual cow from their herd) as a Symphony Amidst Chaos. Standing along the fence surrounding the sorting lot, I identified a cow with a nod of my head. The team of rider and horse immediately went to work. Watching them cut the cow was amazing. It seemed the cowboy was merely along for the ride. After cutting the specific cow from among a group of 50 or more, the horse seemed to move the cow himself while the rider operated pen gates, etc.

Watching the experienced team for a few minutes, I leaned over to the rancher beside me and stated, “That horse sure is cowy, ain’t he?” His reply; “So’s the cowboy.” I thought about this later and realized the truth in that gentleman’s statement. A cowy rider on a cowy horse share a connection that makes their work appear effortless. I thought too about all the hours of training and trust development that must have gone into making that team.

“Cowy” (pronounced cow-ee); now that’s a strange word to many, isn’t it? If I could only use two words to define it, they would be “good instincts.” Restricted to only one word, it would be “discerning.” This past week, God led me to consider how cowy I am as a Christian. Do I have good instincts to follow Christ and do those make my training (sanctification) a little easier for God? Does the Holy Spirit work in unison with those instincts to identify opportunities to serve God and reach others with His gospel? I wondered also if the spiritual gift of discernment (able to anticipate Satan’s next move) made me a cowy Christian.

Are cowy Christians those who seem to effortlessly carry out God’s calling upon their life? #Discipleship #Faith #ChristianWalk Click To Tweet

As I thought about that question, I considered some cowy people God has brought into my life since starting His Cross-Dubya ranch who have taught me a great deal. Cowboys and ranchers like Blair Freeman, Michael Duke, David Shaffer, Tommy Parkhill, and recently brother Steve Nelson have all been great mentors. Applying those same traits of cowy-ness to many Christian brothers and sisters, I could name many more.

As I suspect many of you are asking “What does cowy look like”, I’ll try to explain from a horse’s standpoint. While the American Quarter horse is the preferred cutting horse breed, I imagine any cow bred horse with similar traits can become a good cutting horse. I’ll also try to relate these traits to our Christian journey in faith so you can see the correlation. A cowy horse:

  • Reads the cow: This means the horse anticipates what a cow might do next. Reading things in this world correctly helps Christians anticipate what direction they need to move in to cut themselves out of the world and avoid temptation.
  • Hooks on quickly: A cowy horse quickly identifies the exact cow they need to move. Once hooked on, they stick to that cow automatically. A cowy Christian can identify that struggling brother or sister who needs help and then move alongside them in fellowship to help them through the storm.
  • Rates the cow: Cowy horses are agile, powerful animals that have the physical ability to move at the same speed as the cow they’re hooked onto. As Christian disciple-makers, we must be agile and adaptable to move in unison with those being discipled, yet experienced enough to move them toward achieving the goal.
  • Confident: Confident horses don’t get skittish in noisy or chaotic environments. They know their job and are continually learning. Being watching, listening, and seeking to learn, they are more easily trained and developed into top performers. Those Christians who are confident of who they are in Christ, understand their job, and are more easily trainable most often become the most cowy and effective Christians.
  • Enjoy the work: Cowy horses seem to enjoy their work. When cutting, they work with a quiet, confident, efficient, and patient manner while maintaining a good attitude throughout the long day. You see those same traits in many of the cowiest Christian men and woman in your church and community. Both express a joyful countenance.

My last point is the importance of team work. The best horse can’t do much without a capable rider to lead, guide, and direct its actions. The best rider can’t perform at their best without a well-trained, responsive, and trusting partner to ride. In the same way, the Christian must work as a team with the Holy Spirit to ensure we accomplish God’s will in God’s way. When we do so, all things are possible.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing what a team of cowy horse and rider can do, I offer the video below. It shows one of the world’s best cutting horses and their rider in action. Enjoy the amazing teamwork this pair exhibits.

Special Nu Baby & Matt Gaines – Cutting World Record! – YouTube  (Did you notice how quiet Mr. Matt’s hands were during the ride?)

In your walk over the coming week, I’ll be praying God helps you and me identify the traits and develop the skills we need to become Cowy Christians.

God’s blessings,


60 thoughts on “Are You a Cowy Christian?”

  1. JD, this is such a good and wise post. Oh how I want to be a cowy Christian – having good instincts, an eye and ear working as a team with the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sharing the video; and keep sharing your ranch life and lessons as they are teaching us all!

    1. You and me both Ms. Joanne. I think God gives us all some basic instinctual behaviors, and then the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts that enhance and refine those instincts. Much the same way some horses are cowy, and then training only enhances their cowy-ness and causes them to stand out among their peers. Special Nu Baby, the horse in the video link, is a great example of that. So very glad you enjoyed ma’am. Thank you!

  2. Once again, a marvelous analogy, J. D.! We should all strive to be cowy Christians, working seamlessly with the Holy Spirit. The video truly showed the harmony of horse and rider; may we be that with the Lord.

    1. Thank you Ms. Martha. Yes! I want to work toward that same close relationship between God and me that the horse and rider exhibited in the video. It seemed they knew each other’s thoughts didn’t it? I loved how the rider reached down and gave his mount that pat and some love after their performance. I pray that one day God will have reason to do the same to us my friend.

  3. Oh my, how I enjoyed this. Excellent points. As I watched the video, I could see the Christian behaviors you describe in that cutting horse and his partner.

    Thank you for this beautiful illustration of a “cowy Christian.”

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Candyce. I was praying that many would be able to see the similarities between the training that goes into making a champion cutting horse and the discipleship and training that goes into making us into champion Christians that God can use in His service. I’m so glad to know that (in rodeo terminology) you’re one of those champion Christians that always makes the “Short Go” my friend. Thank you for your inspiration, encouragement, and steadfast faith.

  4. Another incredible illustration, J.D. The video (at least what I could see of it here in Jericho. The things you mentioned were obvious and the lessons are powerful. I’m always profoundly impressed at how God reveals Himself and other principles of His Kingdom in the world around us. But, then, I should remember who I’m talking to—the one who shoes us new views of what that looks like every week. God bless you, my friend, for an enlightening way to wrap up a very, very blessed but challenging day in the Promised Land.

    1. Such a blessing to hear from you in the midst of your journey of a lifetime Mr. Ron. Thank you for your kindness sir. I can’t wait for your and Ms. Diane’s return to see photos and hear the wonderful lessons of faith God showed you two during your visit to the Holy Land. God’s blessings dear friend.

  5. J.D., I enjoyed learning about this. I particularly liked the phrase: Confident horses don’t get skittish in noisy or chaotic environments. They know their job and are continually learning. The longer and closer we walk with Jesus the more confident we are that He is in charge and will guide us.

    1. Thank you Ms. Debbie; so glad you enjoyed ma’am. And yes, “confidence” is such an important part of our successful Christian walk isn’t it ma’am. Like Paul, we must be willing to boldly claim the cause of Christ through His gospel message. And another resounding “YES” to your observation that the longer we walk with God and grow in His wisdom and understanding, the more He can use us in His service.

  6. This message is inspirational. I am thankful for the mentors and cowy Christians that God has placed in my life. Those wonderful people help me remember to follow Him at all times. I’m thankful, too, that when I find myself going down a wrong path, God is there to pick me up and take me back to Him. 🙂 Have a blessed week dear friend! 🙂

    1. I’m right there with you in the gratefulness department Ms. Melissa. Both in my faith-life and learning to farm and ranch, God has been faithful to bring men and women into my life who have helped me all along the way. I sometimes wish I was wearing a snaffle-bit so that God could correct me a bit faster when I choose to stray or lose my focus on Him. 🙂

  7. As a farm girl and a horse owner, I really enjoyed your message, even though my horses are not “cowy.” But I appreciated the analogy you shared between cowy horses/riders and Christians. Wonderful insights, my friend. Praying that we Christians can become more discerning and work together with other Christians, but especially with the Holy Spirit to share the love and Good News of Jesus Christ.

    1. Your horses may not be too cowy, but you sure are my friend. I was thinking of those seemingly natural abilities to encourage, edify, correct, teach, and gently rebuke that God has instilled in you; and I can see how He is enhancing them with each passing year as you continue to draw close to Him in your life. Such an inspiration you are my friend.

  8. I’m always learning something new from your blog, JD! I love how you connected the cow herding process with cutting horses and their riders to our spiritual discernment and growth. Such a great illustration!

    Fun fact: This SoCal gal lived in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma my senior year of high school before moving back to California.

    Keep shining for Jesus, my friend!

    1. I did not know that Ms. Beckie, but it sure does explain a lot about why my “SoCal gal” friend is so hospitable, friendly, and supportive. You’ve got some Suthin’ roots in you that God continues to cultivate. And I just know that one day, you and Mr. Scott are gonna be living here in Texas neighbor. 😀 This, I pray.

  9. Such a fascinating post! You know, I am from the Deep South and while we do have cattle here, we do not have cowboys or ranches, in the Western sense. Not only do I glean spiritual nuggets of truth from your blog posts, J.D., I always learn something cool about “the ranch life”! Always a blessing!

    1. Such kindness Ms. Gena. I recognize I fall woefully short ma’am, but I hope that I can share one tenth of the lessons in faith you do in your life ma’am. God’s blessings; and thank you kindly ma’am.

    1. Yes ma’am. Them cows are bred with a long stubborn streak in them. They also have one of the strongest fight or flight responses of any mammal (human or animal), besides a badger of course, that I’ve met. Some “put it in B for boogie” as soon as you walk in the corral, while others will stand their ground and seemingly dare you to interrupt whatever they were doing. Usually eating. LOL So glad you enjoyed the post ma’am. Sounds like your grandpa was a pretty wise fella.

    1. Aww, thank you Ms. Sally. Am so pleased you enjoyed ma’am. I’m with you on that “Symphony Amidst Chaos” thought. As Christians, we are bombarded daily with the world and all its ills. When we are able to keep our focus on the end game and what God says about us and about our future, we are much better able to deal with all the craziness around us. God’s blessings sweet lady.

  10. How very good, my my, for you lent a better definition to discipleship than I had before and thanks for that. How often I wonder, does our Lord reach down and lend us a hand when we slip a bit and gather some of the corral ‘dirt’ upon us. Looking forward to your next session, of truth and legacy in Jesus name and amen. ps. so nice Ms. Diane could make it to pjnet also.

    1. Too kind Ole Papa! Thank you so much sir. I sometimes wonder, but am always thankful, that God hasn’t given up on me yet, as it seems sometimes I continue to waller around in the muck and mire of this world far more than I should. Yet, like a cutting horse, I continue to observe and learn as He continues to train me.

  11. I’d offer a hearty neigh were I even close to the level of cutting horse shown. So, I’ll offer a mellow moooo having been steered in the right direction by your post concerning the Cowboy way. Thanks, pardner.

  12. What an enjoyable, informative read this is, J. D. The cowboy terms were new to me, but you made powerful connections to our Christian lives. This one resonated with me: “A cowy Christian can identify that struggling brother or sister who needs help and then move alongside them in fellowship to help them through the storm.” Sometimes we identify a need as God leads us and we take one step toward helping. I’m picturing the cowboy and horse in the video as I remind myself a struggling sister in Christ needs a Christian who will stick with her and continue to guide and encourage them.

    1. Amen Ms. Jeannie. Your point of “sticking with that person” is such an important one ma’am. Too often, like “helicopter parents”, we want to be “Fly-by Christians” and offer to pray with someone in the church parking lot or sanctuary, but then we seem to forget about them and their problems the other six days of the week. That’s not true friendship and fellowship. As Proverbs 18:24 tells us, we too should endeavor to stick closer than a brother when a brother or sister in Christ is in crisis. God’s blessings my wise and learned friend.

  13. I always learn something new from you, my friend. The video really helped explain your words. I pray I can be a cowy Christian and work with the Holy Spirit where He leads. Thanks for another inspirational message!

    1. I’m so very glad you enjoyed both the post and the video. I was hoping many would see the correlation I was trying to make. “Thank You for Your inspiration Lord.” And thank you for all your encouragement and support Ms. Karen.

    1. Thank you Ms. Barb. Am glad you enjoyed ma’am. I’ve been overwhelmed at times with how God seems to have led me here to east Texas and how much we’ve grown as He’s used the Cross-Dubya as His classroom to grow and groom me. God’s blessings dear friend.

  14. So good! I love learning these new things. (I never got this from my favorite movie “City Slickers.”) But seriously, I’ve been blessed to have several cowy Christians in my life who watched out for me., and even more, the Holy Spirit to direct me. Great concept, J.D.

    1. You and me both Ms. Dottie. While I’ve not met any named “Curly” or “Norman” (enough folks have mentioned this movie, I had to look it up. Isn’t Billy Crystal a hoot and a half?) :-), I’ve been blessed with some great disciple-makers and mentors who have come alongside me and shown me how to walk more closely with God. Like you I suspect, I’m trying to do the same; as God leads. Thank you so much ma’am.

  15. I would have never guessed the meaning of the word “cowy” was discernment. I love the parallels you have drawn. You’ve given me much to prayerfully consider.

    1. Thank you Ms. Terri. I thought it a good word, and good way, to show how discerning Christians can use their spiritual instincts to hook onto others who need help, and to anticipate, identifym and “cut” those temptation triggers, behaviors, etc. that don’t align with God’s will. Am so pleased the post moved you ma’am.

  16. Great post, J.D. I loved the lessons for us from quarter horses or cowy horses. I lived in Broken Arrow for a few years way back! And one of the best horses I ever rode was a quarter horse. They’re smart, gentle and love to work hard. I never cut cows with Chico though! Thanks for such great insights!

    1. Then you too know what a beautiful and peaceful part of the world this area is Ms. Kathy. As you spoke about smart, gentle, and hard-working, I wasn’t sure if you were referring to “Chico” or yourself there. Isn’t it funny how a great horse like he sounds like sticks with us? I can think of a few I’ve been blessed to team with through the years. I agree, American Quarters are some of the best, and cowiest, horses out there. There size, agility, power, and intelligence makes them perfect for working cows. God’s blessings.

  17. Kathy Collard Miller

    So fun to continue to learn about the ranch. Now that I live in Idaho, I’m looking forward as a former all-my-life Californian to attending a rodeo and who knows if I’ll ever see the “Cowy” ones out on the range. I’m going to watch at the rodeo with better informed eyes. And of course, J.D., your spiritual applications are so powerful. Thanks.

    1. If you get the chance to go “back of the chutes” at your next rodeo and you see them horses enjoying some good hay, just mention “Reckon that’s Timothy or Brome” and them cowboys will take note and talk to you right off ma’am. 🙂 Course, I reckon they will a pretty lady like yourself any how. Thank you for your kind words ma’am, and God’s blessings to you and Mr. Larry.

  18. Always an adventure in curiosity and insights to see where you take us, and then call us to make choices. I thought of Colossians 3:23 when I read this. Thank you for another great read and opportunity to personally respond.

    1. “As to the Lord” my friend. What a great way to live our lives. Always such an inspiring outlook on life Ms. Marilyn. Thank you so much for reading, sharing, and commenting ma’am.

  19. How enlightening! I’ve never heard or seen the cutting process before. I’m still a little unclear as to why it has to be done. The video was amazing. I watched it three times as I was so mesmerized by the movement of the horse crouched down in sync with the cow. I’m afraid I’m not nearly as cowy as I need to be. In fact, I’d probably be more cowardly!

    1. Why cutting? It’s much safer, faster, and easier to extract one cow from a large group on horseback than it is for a cowboy to attempt to walk into the middle of them to separate out the one who needs to be doctored, branded, banded, etc. We humans can’t even begin to match the skill, power, and agility of a horse, and it’s much safer than being on the ground. Hope this helps increase your understanding ma’am. As far as you being a “cowardly Christian” more than a “cowy Christian”; I pray fervently that you look in the mirror and ask God to reveal what so many others (including me) see in you my friend. 🙂 God’s blessings, and “keep dancing” sweet lady (that’s what we call those moves while on horseback).

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