27 October 2012

A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 27} ~ Have you ever seen the movie "Touching Wild Horses?"

We have.

In fact, we own it.

But first, a quick disclaimer. Obviously, I enjoy several movies where Jane Seymour plays a predominant role. Two posts featuring her cinematic efforts is such close proximity could give some the idea that I'm a Jane Seymour groupie, but I'm  really not. It is purely coincidence that my girlies like this movie and watched it several times over the period of a few weeks last month. Apparently she chooses to act in the same types of movies I like to watch with these girls of mine!


That movie pretty much has nothing to do with the point of this blog post, except that I wanted to borrow the name ...and the fact that we've viewed it several times over the last weeks in this house inhibited creativity in coming up with something original for a blog post title!

We've got three girls riding horses now... (brief disclaimer - it is hard to get photos of Nadia and Anna because their class happens after it gets dark and while I've got a nice camera, there's only so much it can do. The two younger girls are doing very well as well and are supposed to start jumping soon... I don't just have pictures of Rebekah because I love her the most... we'll keep trying to get some decent photos of the younger girls!)

It is interesting to sit and watch the lessons.

When I watch people riding Western style, I can usually pick up on at least some of the signals the rider uses to direct the horse. Neck reigning is fairly obvious, as is the nudging of the ribs to motivate the horse to move. Verbal signals are often heard, as well.

As I watch the girls, riding English style, I remember how Rebekah used to really have to "kick" the horse to get him to gallop. And there's the times the instructor reminds students to lean over, caress and pat the horse while thanking him for his cooperation - that one is pretty impossible to miss!

As Rebekah's matured more as a rider, most of the time I simply see the horse change direction or move from one gait to the next with very little visible signal from Rebekah. The horses are directed by gentle, slight and  imperceptible-to-me differences in tension and weight on the reigns, shifting position in the saddle and changes in pressure from the legs.  It is pretty amazing how such tiny, gentle movements can direct such a powerful mass (that very much has a mind of its own) and is moving quickly. 

The stallions at Equestrian Club also give their riders very clear, honest and almost instant feedbackThey like uncluttered and gentle leading, and do not respond well or as desired to harsh, violent or aggressive handling, particularly when anger or fear motivates the rider. 
Horses have their own particular "retort" to weak, unclear, ineffective or indecisive direction. If the horse feels like his rider is not truly the boss or lacking in confidence, or when the rider does not gently assert clear boundaries and limits, the horse pushes to see what he can get away with. Watching this as a parent with my child on the horse's back wracks the nerves! Gentle leadership and direction is visibly safer and more secure for all involved. 
Riders must also be trustworthy -  consistently gently guiding the horse about the ring. It's easy to think the horses are the ones really in charge and the kids are simply along for the ride. These horses are used for variations of the same lesson, day after day. So what makes a horse perform well with one student one hour and then act up the very next, with a different rider?  Perhaps it has to do with a change in riders... or that the second rider is just not as consistent and gentle directing the animal. 

Watching the girls practice...

while at the same time having been meditating on the words of 1 Peter 3...

I've received a very visual illustration of the amazing strength contained in gentleness and quietness and subtlety.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do  what is right and do not give way to fear." I Peter 3.3-6

One other thing flitted through my mind as I was watching Rebekah jump the other day. When the rider becomes afraid, she quickly becomes harsh, aggressive, or jerky - over-reacting, over-correcting because she feels out of control. Fear might just be the thing that prevents a gentle spirit more than anything else. Fear of looking foolish, fear of what's unknown, fear of pain and injury, fear of humiliation, fear of falling... there are so many words to use to fill in that blank. Once a rider starts feeling fearful, it isn't necessary to see his or her face. Panic, distress and alarm unquestioningly show themselves in the posture as well as the increased movement of the rider on the horse's back. Horse and rider are no longer in partnership...

That connection I detected for the first time ever...

...just the other night.

It bears more reflecting, don't you think?

A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 14} - pictures of gentleness
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 15} - Multitude Monday ~ all Greek to me!
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 16} ~ she came from the Land Down Under
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 17} - Walk with Him Wednesday ~ How did you answer my question from last week?
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 18} ~ that fictional frontier lady who inspires me ~ 
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 19} - Five Minute Friday ~ Look 
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 20} - should not come from
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 21} ~ Why do braids, gold and fancy clothes matter?
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 22} - Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts - Today I'm thankful for the word INSTEAD...
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 23} ~ three missionary heroes I've never met... yet!
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 24} - Walk with Him Wednesday ~ the "Czar" of our yard
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 25} ~ a gal from England

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