David Frazier doesn't really like the term "horse whisperer."
"That's kind of Hollywood. I haven't even seen the movie," Frazier said of a 1998 film starring Robert Redford, who played the role of a horse trainer with a gift for understanding horses.
"But we use the term here because people understand what it means, and it communicates to the audience that we are going to train a horse in front of them."
Frazier did that on the first day of the Missouri State Fair to a crowd of about 400.
Organizers said attendance was good considering it was one of the first public events of the Aug. 11-21 fair in Sedalia. Frazier's demonstration was sponsored by the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Missouri Directors of Missions Fellowship.
Frazier, 46, from Diamond in southwest Missouri, is a real cowboy, working on a large cattle ranch and feedlot and in a sale barn most weeks. He and his family do several horse whisperer demonstrations each year as a ministry and an opportunity to share the Gospel.
Using a round pen and an unbroken horse, Frazier ropes a horse, gradually gaining its trust. He then saddles the horse, usually causing the horse to buck around the pen a few moments.
All this while he speaks to the crowd about issues of life, faith, rebellion, sin and trust. Issues that are of concern to a horse trainer, he said, are issues that people experience in their everyday lives, though "we want to put on a show-face when we go to church."
Toward the end of the 45-minute presentation Frazier got a bridle and bits in the horse's mouth.
"You can get a saddle on this horse, but you can't ride him if you don't get the bits in his mouth," Frazier said, noting that the horse needs to know who is in control and submit to that authority—just like God and man.
"God knows you are not perfect. What He wants is for us to stand still and know that He is God," Frazier said as he slowly mounted the nervous horse to ride it around the ring a few times.
Frazier concluded the demo by climbing up on the pen and speaking to the audience "eyeball to eyeball." He recounted his conversion to Christ and invited the audience to turn their lives over to Jesus. "It may not be working for you," he said, referring to the way people live their lives, "but turn it over to God."
A free "cowboy Bible" was offered to the horse whisperer audience at the Missouri Baptist tent. About a dozen people came by to meet the horse whisperer and get a cowboy Bible.
One little girl, attired in pink cowboy boots and a white hat, came twice—once to get a Bible and meet Frazier and then to bring a friend in to also get a copy for her.
Jillian Bertz, of Mayview, Mo., one of the audience members, said she had not been to a horse whisperer event before but liked how Frazier shared the Word of God and his testimony. "Lots of horse lovers relate to so many of the things he said," Bertz said.
Honce DeHaven, a member of Flat Creek Baptist Church in Smithton, said Frazier's message "will change the U.S. in the way the Lord wants us to change if we will listen. We want government to change things, but God wants Christians to change the world."
Richard Nations is director of missions for the Thousand Hills Baptist Association in northeast Missouri. This article first appeared in The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.