This is an expanded look at the values I have learned from horses and the horse world as first described in the blog post: Why Use Horses?
I ride Hunter/Jumper horses, and for those of you who think one could just charm a 1200 pound animal around a ring, let me just put that idea to rest. It takes strength and stamina for both horse and rider to negotiate a course, find balance in the turns, get the right number of strides, and find the optimum take-off point before the fence. As a rider, I have to use every part of my body and be aware of each individual muscle in order to communicate effectively, smoothly, and efficiently to the horse. Also, the horse has to be willing, responsive, obedient, and engaged in order to process those commands properly. All of those factors come together to create a beautiful, fluid picture of grace and power in motion.
However, there are times when I try to take too much control. I have an issue with pulling on the reins. I had a horse that was so big and strong, that I had to ingrain into my being to pull on the reins and steady him after every jump. The problem is that this doesn’t transfer to every horse, but apparently I feel the need to try it anyway. Even when the horse I am riding is moving along correctly to the next fence and the take-off distance looks to be right, I will still feel as though I should pull on the reins. I’m pretty sure it’s an issue of trust and control. The exact moment when I should trust the horse to do his job is where it seems I begin to pick up the reins. And, instead of just keeping a steady “feel” and going with the horse, I begin to grab tighter and try to control. The interesting part is, the more control I try to gain, the more that problems begin to occur. The horse becomes confused and frustrated and the “perfect spot” I once saw disappears. I actually lose control in my feeble effort to gain it. In order to fix my own issues, I have learned to tell myself in between fences: “Don’t touch the reins; don’t touch the reins.” I say that over and over in my mind until I am actually not pulling on the reins. Something amazing happens then… the ride is smooth, enjoyable, and much better than what I could have done on my own.
I often do this with God, too. I tend to open my hands and give my problems over to Him and then just when I should trust Him and go with what He has planned, I try to grab it all back from Him and do it my way. It seems ridiculous to think that anything I could come up with would be better than what the God of the universe could have planned, but when I don’t trust Him and I take control, I am in essence saying that I don’t need Him. He sees the big picture and knows far better than I do as to what is best for me. Looks like I just need to start using the same phrase concerning handing over the reins to God… “Don’t touch the reins; don’t touch the reins…”