"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...

1 comment:

Anna Caulley said...

I love this Nancy! Believe it or not, I didn't see where you were taking me until I got until the end. Well said! Come Holy Spirit, and rein!!