It has been a few days since I have blogged, mainly because I have not been feeling very well. Between an abscess tooth and coming down with a cold I haven’t felt like doing much. Looking at a computer screen for a long period of time and actually having to think very much has not been on my list of things to do. Even so, I have ridden Sorry bareback three times in the last five days. Riding her was actually more for my therapy than any training goal, which is why I didn’t even saddle her. She was out in the pasture grazing with the herd where I walked up to scratch her for a while. I listened to her chew the dried blades of grass before I put the halter on. Then I rode her casually around the other eight horses.
It felt so good to have her body moving in such a relaxed manner beneath me. I would like to think her nice relaxation and rhythm was due to the previous work we have been doing together. But the truth is, you just never know for sure. I try not to take too much credit for how great a horse is acting, because about the time I do they do something to humble me. Anyway she felt good three days in a row, and I am thankful I was a part of it with her.
At first I didn’t really care where we went. I just needed to be on my horse being a part of her. There is no better way to feel that connection than riding bareback without a super strong agenda. I felt our spines meeting as if they were intertwined in a more powerful way than when riding in the saddle. It wasn’t long and I forgot about how rotten I was feeling. A horse can do that for you. There is something about them which can heal and touch your inside. Then the outside world somehow looks better.
I began to amaze at how clearly I could sense when she was going to move, which direction, and even what foot she was going to step with first. I could feel when she initiated a movement with her hindquarters. I could feel when she raised her back and the base of her neck. When I am in training mode, I focus hard to feel for these things and it sometimes seems difficult. As I thought about this I realized I must be trying too hard. Because this time I really wasn’t trying, it just came naturally as if I was joining her in what she was already about to do.
This gave me the next idea to play around with. Could she join me in what I was about to do with only a suggestive hint of a cue? In other words; how little could I do before she felt it and responded appropriately? I have always talked about how sensitive this horse is. Now she is giving me a new picture about just how sensitive she is. I knew it was there all along. Perhaps before this I wasn’t in a place where I could really sense it in the meaningful way or depth that I was able to these past few days. Then to be able to use it more effectively, that was just icing on the cake.
As I rode from one poop pile to another, or around a grazing horse, I experimented with keeping Sorry perfectly between my legs. It almost surprised me that all I had to do to keep her on the perfect straight line, or circle whichever I had in mind was very slightly adjust my seat and leg position. And I do mean slight. Maybe it was what we would call a soft whisper. A very small adjustment in the weight of my seat bones and my pant leg barely brushing the ends of the hair on her sides really was enough to direct her back on the path I had in mind for us, whenever she veered off course. Pretty soon she wasn’t veering off on her own paths. She was joining me in my plans, going where I was going and doing exactly what I was doing. It was as if we knew what the other was going to do before we did it. It seemed we both wanted to go in the same manner together as if we couldn’t do it any other way.
While pondering how Sorry and I joined together in our direction and purpose I was reminded of how Jesus watched to see where the Father was at work and joined Him. As I have searched to learn how to know and do the will of God, I can find no better model than Jesus.
John 5:17, 19-20 says, “17 My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.
19 I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
When we ask God, “What is your will for my life?” could we be asking the wrong question? I have noticed that in horsemanship when I ask the horse the wrong question I usually get the wrong answer. So when my horse gives me the wrong answer, I always check to see if I have asked the right question before I pursue the answer from the horse again. When I apply this principle to my spiritual life I may need to change the question to, ” What is God’s will?”
Once I know God’s will then I can adjust my life to Him. In other words; what is it that God is purposing where I am? Once I know what God is doing, then I know what I need to do. The focus needs to be on God, not me. In the same way, I focused on Sorry, not me. When I did this I was able to feel of her in a way I had not experienced before. I was able to join her in her movement and then she was also able to join me in the directions I chose with a new sensitivity and willingness. Of course, this sensitivity has been there all along, it was me who needed to discover it. It was me who need to make the changes. It was me who needed to quit yelling and start whispering.
The lessons Sorry taught me this week while riding her bareback are:
1. Watch to see where God is moving and join Him.
2. God is always at work around me.
3. Once I know where He is working I can adjust my life to join Him in what He is doing.
4. When I join God in where He is working and what He is already doing the things I do will be more effective and lasting.
5. Stay on God’s path, don’t veer off his course. Because apart from Him I can do nothing.
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Above pic by Julie Williams