I was doing some research reading for a devotional I am going to do at a conference in a week or so and was reminded, once again, of the need to THINK while riding. Not that I don't think. Sometimes I think about all kinds of things. But if there is one thing I have learned from coming off a horse too many times or having a 'scare' on a horse is that I HAVE to ride with my mind engaged. Because we as riders we have "to make a lot of adjustments so that the horse can understand. . . . a big key to remember is to always prepare ahead of time. in the boldest print of all, remember the word THINK. Be aware and alert, visualize what you want. Realize you are working with a mind." (Ray Hunt, "Think Harmony with Horses") A horse does have a mind of its own and I need to think about how to keep that mind engaged with mine whenever I am handling one.
Additionally, I was reminded to get in time with his feet. Thus, my feet and his feet move together.
So this afternoon I got Wildfire out and tried these things out, that I have known, and was reminded of once again. I have been having pain in my sacrum and learned some exercises to do to relieve the pain. One of the things they said to do was to pay attention how I stand, sit, lie down and walk. So now I am reminded not to cross my legs while sitting. Sit with my feet flat on the floor. It is hard to get used to that, but I am doing it. That is the same with the riding in time with the horse.
So today when I was riding Wildfire I practiced these things. Thinking about what I wanted and what he was doing and thinking. Several times he was daydreaming so I brought his mind back to me. A few times he decided he wanted to drift off through his shoulder and not follow his nose, so I had to swing his butt over to help him come around to my way of thinking.
I also was paying attention to the swing of my legs and keeping them in time with his front legs. Through this I was able to bring him up to a trot without squeezing my calves. It didn't work all the time, but it was something I worked on with him. I find that he is one who needs his mind occupied and directed to positive things. If I don't pay attention he will just stop. So I have to keep riding him with my seat and legs and move him forward.
When I ride like this I get more tired mentally, than physically. I also have more fun, because I feel like we are moving more in sync with each other.
It reminds me of the Apostle Paul's statement in Phillipians 2:13 "For it is God who works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure." Why, you ask? Well, just as I have a desire for Wildfire to walk, trot, canter, make a turn, stop, backup or whatever may be in my mind. I have to set it up (work in him through my cues) to help him do what I want him or need him to do (my good pleasure). When I am riding Wildfire I need him to understand what I want and to help him desire to do what I ask. So I also (as do you) need God to work in my/your heart to will (ie. have the desire) and to do ( ie. have the power/ability) His good pleasure. In other words, God positions you and me to see that His way is best and gives us the desire to follow His way. That is why Psalmist, saying the same thing, intones, "thou has commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!" (Ps. 119:4,5) "cause me to know the way wherein I should walk" (Ps.143:8).
That is my prayer and desire to know what God wants and how to do that. And then the desire and energy to actually do what He wants.
May the Lord bless you as you seek to walk in harmony with your horse and the Lord.