Riding the Trails as One

DJ resting at Laddy Lake after about 8 miles of riding the trail as one. LOL! NOT!

Before I start, I apologize to the followers of this blog that it has been so long since I posted. I have been so busy with camps, lessons, clinics, teaching a bible study and an intern. I don’t have so many thing on my calendar in August so I hope to get caught up on some of my computer work.

For those of you who follow me on facebook or on my yahoo group you know that I have been sharing quotes from Tom Dorrance’s book “True Unity”.  Despite the heat I have ridden every day throughout June and July. However in the heat of the afternoon Lindsey (my intern) and I often went to relax on the Calamus Beaches. It somehow seemed cooler at the beach with the breezes blowing off the water towards us as we sat under a shade tree reading either Tom’s book or the Bible.  Of course, every once in a while a refreshing dip in the cool spring waters of the Calamus when we got too hot felt so good. In fact sometimes it even felt quite cold, which was a very welcome feeling.

As I read Tom’s book in combination with the Bible I realized once again there is no magic formula to become one with a horse. Although I am sure the experience of oneness is a reality for the horse and rider to share, most of us only get fleeting moments of it from time to time. This “true unity” between a horse and rider is not something that can be handed to someone. It has to be learned. As Tom says, “It has to come from the inside of a person and the inside of a horse.”

I have been focusing on my relationship with DJ this month. He has been a very challenging horse for me. I have made what I thought was every effort to ride him in harmony without arguments. But the truth is, it has taken longer and much more effort than I ever dreamed possible to ride in agreement with this horse. It has taken humility, patience and endurance. But the good news is I feel like I am finally starting to get with him and he with me. It isn’t perfect by any means, but what harmony and oneness we do have I am eager to guard and keep.

Last fall I was making what I saw as really good progress with DJ, so I went to bragging about how well he was doing. That week he bucked me off. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction,  a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I think the greatest enemy to unity is PRIDE.  Proverbs 13:10 says “Pride only breeds quarrels”.  “The Message” says “Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel.”

Ray Hunt said, “When the horse is in trouble and the human doesn’t know how to help him, the human lets his pride get in the way and the first thing you know – it’s a contest. The human makes it a win or lose situation, and if you’re not real careful, the horse comes out the winner. The horse doesn’t know what win or lose is, or what a contest is, until the human shows it to him.”

When I am feeling too proud, in the not so good way. I remind myself of a few facts.

1. I remind myself that My horse is always right and a reflection of me. He didn’t ask to be in my corral.

2. I remind myself of who I am and from where I have come. Even though I have learned a lot, I still don’t know it all and have a long way to go to become the horseman DJ needs me to be on a regular basis.

3. I remind myself that I need to stop making excuses or blaming the horse. I need to  quit working on the horse and start working on me because the horse usually gets the job done in spite of me, not because of me.

I have discovered that unity with my horse DJ only happens when I truly listen to him and put his needs first. Tom says it this way, “The best thing I try to do for myself is to try to listen to the horse. I don’t mean let him take over.  I listen to how he’s operating; what he’s understanding or what he doesn’t understand; what’s bothering him and what isn’t bothering him. I try to feel what the horse is feeling and operate from where the horse is.” 

As I thought about riding my horse in unity this month I began thinking about living in unity with others in my life-like: my husband, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, clients, business competitors, and of course believers in Christ. This Sunday I will be presenting parts of the message you are reading in a Sermon at two local churches. The liturgy scripture for this week is Ephesians 4: 1-16 where we are encouraged by Paul to run on the road together as one that God has called us to travel. While we are riding this trail together he admonishes us to do it with humility and discipline, not in fits and starts, but steadily pouring ourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick to mend fences.  I encourage you to read if for yourself.

In “The Message”1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul shares his concern with believers, “I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.”

When Saint Augustine was asked to list the principles of the Christian life, he answered, “First, humility. Second, humility. Third, humility.”

Ray Hunt told us letting pride get in the way will cause a contest with the horse where there is usually no winner. If I want to ride the trail as one whether on my horse or traveling on the road of being a christian with other believers, I need to remind myself of some facts similar to the ones I listed above.

1. I remind myself of what Christ did for me: He HUMBLED Himself

Philippians 2:5-8 “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human. Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death, and the worst kind of death at that – a crucifixion.”

When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.—Isaac Watts

2.  I remind myself of who I am: A sinner saved by GRACE

3. I remind myself of who others are: People VALUED by God

When I remind myself of  these facts and yield myself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it seems so much easier to lay aside differences with others. It reminds me that I hurt Jesus as well as myself when I criticize or argue. When I rely on the power of His Spirit working through me, I can achieve unity to ride the trails of life whether they are on my horse DJ, within the wall of the church, or outside the walls of the church in all of my relationships.

Today, I pray that we leave a trail of inspiration for others as we ride together as one on this journey of becoming a mature Christian and savvy Horseman. As we make every effort to live in unity with each other may the Spirit of God grant us the humility, love and patience required to live in unity so the power of God will be evident in our lives and through it bring others to Christ and glory to God. AMEN!





2 thoughts on “Riding the Trails as One

  1. Jody Gular says:

    Challenging and inspiring at the same time, Sherry. I love the quotes from Tom and Bill Dorrance you have used here and on FB- I have been reading Bill’s book. How amazing to go from a rider who always thought she knew a lot about horses, to a rider who is on a journey and learning all over again. The difference in both my mares has been huge. Learning to read them and wait for them and accept what they give has been life

  2. Thank you so much for leaving a comment Jody, it lets me know at least someone is reading and getting a little inspiration from what I am sharing and learning. I hear you about the challenge, but that is what makes horsemanship and Christianity interesting and fun. I look at challenges as opportunities to grow in faith, grace, and trust. I am so happy for the wonderful changes in your horses and I am sure that their changes are due to the changes in you. Keep learning to read, wait, and accept. You are on a fantastic journey.

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