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Prayer assumes two forms, the one of petition that blessings may be bestowed upon the petitioner, the other of thanksgiving for the blessings so bestowed. Several years ago a “Horse’s Prayer” was published in the newspapers. It was a prayer of petition. But – presupposing the possession by the horse of intelligence and power to formulate prayer – Captain has never had to ask for most of the things set forth in this prayer. His kind master has freely accorded them to him, so Captain’s prayer is one of thankfulness. But every owner of a horse can convert this prayer into one of petition by applying it to his own horse and seeing whether he is treating his animal as Captain is being treated:

My Dear Master, I thank thee for all thy goodness to me all the days of my life. Thou hast given me, good, clean, nutritious food, plenty of water, perfect shelter, clean dry bedding, and a stall wide enough for me to lie down in with comfort. Every day my hair and skin have been brushed and cleaned, my nostrils washed out, and my mane and tail kept free from burrs, tangles and dirt.

You and the men you have employed to attend me have always been kind to me.  You have talked gently to, and not shouted at, me.  You have soothed me many times by the kind and assuring tones of your voice.  When I have been nervous and afraid, instead of shouting at me, or whipping me, your gentle words have quieted and encouraged me.  You have petted and caressed me and made me feel the joy of serving you because I love you. While you have been firm with me and made me do my work, you have never demanded more than I was able to give. You have never jerked my reins, and thus made my mouth sore, or cruelly whipped me as I have seen drivers do when their horses were pulling heavy loads up hill. You have always endeavored to explain what you have wanted me to do, and have not whipped, kicked, beaten, or cursed me when I did not understand. You have been kind in teaching me, gen­tle in bearing with my ignorance and mistakes, and patient when I have been slow to learn. When I did not obey you instantly, you have looked over my harness, my bridle, or my hoofs to see that nothing was amiss.

You have never checked up my head so that my neck was stiff and unable to move with freedom, and you have never cursed me with blinders that rubbed my eyelashes, were too close to my eyes, and that prevented me from looking behind me, as the great Creator intended I should do.

You have never overloaded or overworked me; never hitched me where water could drop on me, or where I had to stand too long in the wet, and if it was cold weather you have always covered me with a blanket. My feet have always been well shod; you have always examined my teeth to see that they were kept in good condition, and never allowed “fox tails” to pierce my gums and make my mouth sore. You have never been so wicked and cruel as to cut away my tail so that I could not defend myself from flies and mosquitoes, and at night or day time, you have never tied my head up so tightly that it was in an unnatural position and prevented me from moving it easily, or lying down to sleep.

You have always seen that I had plenty of clean and cool water to drink, day and night, and you have watched me with care so that I should not get sick. While I love the warm sun you have not tied me where, when it was very hot, I could get no shelter. In winter time you have never allowed a frosty bit to be put in my mouth.

And though I am still young and healthy and apparently not likely to become feeble and useless for many years to come, the kindness you have already shown me assures me that when I do lose my strength and ability you will not turn me out into some poor pasture where I may starve or freeze, or sell me to some human brute who will whip and torture me to get the last fragment of work out of me, while he slowly starves me to death with poor and insufficient food. If it is impossible to put me where I shall have proper food and shelter I know you will mercifully, kindly, and swiftly take my life, and thus, even in the hour of death, I shall thank you with my whole heart.

And, though I am a horse, I am sure you have remembered that God is my Father and Creator as well as yours, or I should not be here, and that His Son said that His Heavenly Father cared even for the sparrows, two of which were sold for a farthing, and that He himself ever sanctified a stable by the fact that He was born in one and cradled in the manger at Bethlehem. So, In His Name, I give you thanks for all your kindness to me, recalling to your memory His words that “inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”

- Amen.

Captain and author George Wharton James with the pigeons at the San Diego Exposition, 1916.



Captain's own Story

How I bought and trained Captain

A Scientific Investigation

Captain's Prayer of Thanksgiving

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