So, in my discipline of choice there is a stark contrast in two types of riders. There are those that end up using a lot of gadgets, man-handle their horses, and say things like, “I guess it’s time for a stronger bit” more than a few times. Then there are those that can take just the same type of horse and flawlessly execute a balanced and rhythmic round over fences with a soft arm.
The latter comes from a keen ability to maintain their position (body position). One of my instructors would tell me, “the horse will always improve to the rider’s better position.” This past week, I was working over fences with my coach and really struggling with maintaining my position and holding my body over fences, continually I was collapsing my upper body on my horse’s neck. Both over the fence and around the course I was meant to trust that solid position, yet I kept at the slightest off-distance to a fence collapsing. But see, it’s not about getting to the bad distance that creates the awkward jump and unbalance, it’s the loss of your position.
It’s more difficult that it looks. You’re not just sitting still. You have to have both strength in your body and awareness of where you are on top of your horse. When you finally find that place and can approach the jump balanced and strong, suddenly, the distance the horse takes off matters much less and you actually can gain a better eye, or sight, to where the horse will be jumping .
Almost every influential riding lesson I have, I find myself correlating to my faith. I feel like in life there’s a lot of extras we use to get through things. We start poor habits, attempt to find short-cuts, or just race through things. This more times than not ends up in failure or poor execution.
I think for me, my faith is a lot like navigating a course of fences. When I use my own gadgets and try to over-see all of my decisions, it’s just not quite as balanced and rhythmic as I’d like. But Christ calls us to have faith, which means letting go of those gadgets, but remaining strong and aware of his Word which tells us what to do. And just like when I’m riding in the balance with my horse you’re able to direct and see the take-off point, when I have faith in Christ the path you’re meant to walk down and purpose is given to you and you see things from a different perspective.
I don’t believe the latter is easy just as gaining that strong core and body awareness on your horse. It takes practice, and work-outs, consulting with trainers. Just like faith takes work. You have to read what Christ says, talk to Him, and be really strong.
But I’m so confident that the latter training is the better way to go about navigating your course of jumps. Every time I try to organize and plan my own route, it truly becomes a disaster. Really, everything I touch. Every time I try to use my eye and hands to tell my horse where to take off, my poor mare has to throw herself over the fence however she can and lands in an unbalanced heap. But, when the training and strength, not manhandling, but inner-confidence and in your core fitness, the blinders come off and you’re off on a successful route that can handle the slight bobbles because you’re prepared and strong.