MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa—Every Labor Day weekend, the city of Mount Pleasant hosts its annual Midwest Old Threshers Reunion. The event brings in thousands of people who love antique tractors, steam engines, and the company of old friends. Calvary Baptist Church uses this opportunity to meet people and share the gospel. “We have had a unique ministry opportunity at Old Threshers by bringing in horse trainer ‘Cowboy’ Bob Toomer,” says Calvary Baptist’s youth pastor, Matt Reno.
Toomer grew up on a Colorado ranch, where training horses was routine. In a 2004 Baptist Bulletin interview with Daria Greening, Toomer said he learned about a horse-training method in which a horse is worked at liberty, totally free, in a round pen. “As I observed that method,” he recalls, “I believed it pictures what God wants to do in the lives of people when he draws them to Him, when they come to a saving knowledge of Christ and yield their lives to Him for total Lordship.” It took some practice, says Toomer, but with the help of good Christian friends, he learned how to share that spiritual message while training a horse.
At his Labor Day 2014 presentation in Mount Pleasant, Toomer trained a horse that had seen only three people in its life. At the beginning, Toomer could not even touch the horse, but within 90 minutes, he was riding it. He says horses constantly want to run away when a trainer brings difficult things into its life. Horses don’t understand that the only way they will be useful is to look to their master and submit to him. It is only when they are broken and willing to look to their master that they find comfort and true joy. Alluding to the spiritual message in that observation, Pastor Reno asks, “Doesn’t that sound familiar?”