(last edited 3/05)

SOME ELEMENTS OF HORSEMANSHIP



When you are working with a horse, you cannot think about just one thing at a time, because several things are always going on, or need to go on, at the same time. For example, the horseman needs to have a plan, to have the horse's attention, to be able to move the horse's feet, to be exercising discipline, and to get the horse to yield. These do not take place in any order; they are happening simultaneously.

You need to have a plan. If you do not know exactly what you are asking the horse to do, you will not know if the horse has actually yielded. If your plan is for the horse to stand still, do not let him move even one foot. If you want him to move, be definite. If you want him to stop, decide the exact spot where he will stop, and make him stop there. (How do you make him stop while letting it be his decision? You make everything uncomfortable except stopping at that spot. Let him work at it until he finds that spot. Make your idea his idea.)

So while you are making and sticking to a plan, you are also moving the horse's feet. You are telling him which direction and what speed. This includes the idea of discipline. As you ask the horse to move his feet in accord with your plan, you must be disciplined enough to stay with it until you get the desired response. If you want a disciplined horse, be a disciplined rider. If you want consistency in your horse, be a consistent rider.

Because you are working with a green horse, he won't always go along with your plan. Your disciplined approach needs a certain amount of flexibility. Sometimes you need to go with the horse until you can get him to go with you. If your approach is too disciplined, you end up with a master/slave relationship, not a partnership. But if you continually go along with his plan without eventually getting him to go with yours, you don't establish your leadership.

And in order to get your horse to do anything, you must have and keep his attention. At the same time, your attention must be on him, not on who is watching you or riding with you or on a phone call you need to make. Even if you are conversing with your fellow rider, you need to be aware of what is going on with the horse, and aware of what you are doing or failing to do.

Everything you ask of the horse has to do with yielding. You ask the horse to give you his attention, his feet, his body. Whenever the horse resists, he is refusing to yield, whether from willfulness or ignorance.

As we begin to ride with the Master Horseman, many things go into the learning process. He has a plan, both long-range and short-range. His long-range plan is that He would be glorified in His entire creation. His short-range plan is for every individual. It includes salvation, bringing us into a closer walk with Himself, and developing Christlikeness in our lives.

To implement His plan for our lives, He first had to do some things to get our attention. He does other things to us to keep our wandering attention on Him, but His attention never wanders. His thoughts are on each one of us at all times. He was thinking about us even before we were born.

Psalm 139:16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.

As He works out His plan, He teaches us to move our feet, or stop moving them, at His command. We change speed or direction when He says. He sticks to His plan and always does what He says. He disciplines us in love, and desires that we develop self-discipline.

Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Everything He does in our lives is to teach us to yield completely to Him. In every test and trial, whether He asks for small things or bigger things, He wants our response to be, "not my will but Thine." He wants His idea to become our idea.

Copyright 1998 Jan Young

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