"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Horse Reining ... and More

I am very fortunate to live in a small town that hosts a big arena full of opportunities for (very often, free) entertainment. But I'm ashamed to admit that except for the GA National Fair, my husband and I rarely take advantage of those happenings. However, a couple of weeks ago, we were invited by one of his friends to attend a horse reining event in which her brother had a horse competing. 

Horse shows are nothing new for me. In fact, I was still cutting my teeth when I would go see my uncle Bobba compete in Hawkinsville with his horse. My brother and I even had a pony of our own, Peanut, when we were tykes. So you might say it's in my blood. However, I had never been to a reining competition. Shoot, I didn't even know what one was. But I was quickly going to find out.

When we entered the arena this hot August afternoon, the competition was in full swing. A horse and his rider were not merely circling the arena, they were practically flying around it ... and with such fluidity that I was immediately mesmerized.

As the next trainer entered with his horse at a slow gait and began the routine, I noticed it was exactly like the one I had just witnessed. And so it went for the next 3 hours that we were there. As far as the routines went, nothing changed. The horse would perform 2 large, fast circles at a near gallop and then a smaller, slow circle at a lope. After that was completed, the rider would bring the horse to a standstill in the center of the arena before instructing the horse to dizzingly spin three 360 degree rotations. The horse would do this in place, pivoting on its stationary inside hind leg, stopping in the designated place -- or be penalized.

The horse then stood still for a few seconds to "settle." I later learned that pauses are not judged, but a horse that is ill mannered or impatient will, again, be penalized. At this point, the whole procedure was repeated but on the other half of the arena with the horse travelling in a different direction.  

The rider then led the horse on a figure eight type of movement. It is here the animal demonstrated his ability to do a flying lead change which simply put means that the horse changed its leading front and hind legs mid-stride -- without breaking gait or changing speed, of course. And if he did, the horse and rider were penalized.

Then came the rundown and sliding stop, which is exactly what it sounds like ... and quite the crowd pleaser.

The horse took off down the side of the arena at a very fast gallop and then suddenly planted his hind feet in the dirt while its front feet ran forward, sliding to a stop -- continuing in a straight line, or it was penalized. And as quickly as it stopped, he BACKED up quickly for at least 10 feet.

Like I said, every routine was exactly the same. Nothing changed. Nothing, that is, but the performance of each horse.

So what was so captivating about all of this horse reining? The fact that there didn't seem to be any "reining" going on. In fact, a major part of the competition was that the rider held the horse's reins very loosely with only one hand. To use both hands meant disqualification. You see, "reining" requires that the horse be responsive and so in tune with the rider that there is no VISIBLE means of communication. The horse is WILLINGLY guided with little resistance. And the judges know how to see that, too. If the horse pins his ears, conveying a threat to his rider, or refuses to go forward, or runs sideways, or bounces his rear, or wrings his tail in irritation or displays a poor attitude ... all of these show that the horse is ... shall, we say, rebellious.

Hmm. It's purely amazing what one can learn at a horse reining event.

Come, Holy Spirit, and rein.

Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Walking the Dog

This morning when I donned my gym shorts, tee shirt and running shoes (and I use that term "running" VERY loosely), I had all intentions of going to Anytime Fitness and getting my exercise via the treadmill. But when I stepped outside, I noticed that the storm to the south of us had brought not only some cloud cover but an unusually nice Autumn breeze. And so instead of grabbing my keys, at my husband's suggestion, I grabbed the leash and hooked it on my dog's collar. Rusti is our red heeler, and bless her heart, in worse shape than her mistress, so I thought the walk might do her good. And, oh, was she ever excited. In fact, it was everything I could do not to step on or fall over her as she bounced around my feet and in my path. And the whole time she was dancing, she was looking me in the eye and grinning .. as if to be saying, "I"m so excited! Am I doing okay? YES, I'm sooooo excited! Am I doing okay? Can you tell I'm excited? Are you sure I'm doing okay?" What can I say? My dog has some "people-pleasing" issues. I finally had to shorten the leash and pull her to my side and MAKE her walk beside me instead of dance in front of and under my feet. 

Before long, the sweet little red head had figured out who she was, a heeler, and she began doing just that, heeling on my left side. And for the first time, the walk became pleasant. Oh, every now and again when I would loosen the leash, she would step in it somehow and get a little caught up. But I would just bend down and gently untangle her mess and on our way we'd be again. By the time we arrived back at the house, our stride was one and we had accomplished not one, but two laps around the neighborhood.

It really didn't take me long to see the correlation. How often in my excitement to please God do I, too, get "under His feet" and "in His way" until He has to shorten my leash to bring me into stride? It is only then that I come into my true self, the person He created me to be, and my walk ... my life ... becomes more in tune with His. Yes, I still get myself into trouble at times, but rather than taking a stick and beating me, He gently bends down and unravels the mess and sets me free so we can continue to walk this journey together.

It's really quite simple. Sort of like walking the dog.

Just an ordinary moment...