Keys to a Smooth Course - Pace, Rhythm, & Straightness!
When we ride a course of jumps we’re looking for that “divine” distance! That perfect take off spot that enables us to negotiate each jump with apparent effortlessness. It can sometimes feel more like an elusive effort - the harder we try, the bigger we miss! When we find that perfect distance it feels as if we’re riding on cloud 9! But when we “miss the distance” the results can be anywhere from slightly uncomfortable to extremely disastrous!
The word translated as “sin” in scripture comes from the greek word “hamartano” which means to miss the mark. It’s like missing the distance to a jump. Sometimes our sin seems to have very small consequences and at other times the consequence is disastrous. Either way, missing the mark never feels good. In our walk with YHWH we are aiming for perfection - not that we will ever be perfect in this temporal life! But we move in the direction of perfection because we are becoming like Him in all things. (see Matthew 5:48 and Romans 8:29)
So what is the secret? How do those that ride what seems to be a flawless jump course do it? What is the key to a smooth, flowing, “divine” distance course? I use a 3 step approach in my own riding and in instructing my students that applies to both our riding and our walk with the Lord: Pace, Rhythm, and Straightness. I will elaborate on each of those 3 steps in my next posts. But for now, let’s look at all three together and understand how these 3 things will improve not only how we negotiate our jump courses, but also how we negotiate the course of our life!
There is a reason that I put those three things in a particular order. Pace is first because without an appropriate pace we will not be able to negotiate the particular obstacles that are part of our course. If we are riding a cross-rail course in a small indoor arena we would choose a slow canter or possibly just an energetic trot. If we were in a derby field competing in a Grand Prix, we’d better pick up a gallop!
Rhythm follows pace because rhythm won’t matter if our pace isn’t suitable for us, our horse, and the particular course that is set before us. But once we have established the appropriate pace, rhythm is essential. Without maintaining rhythm, we will be speeding up and slowing down all over the course, creating confusion and lack of confidence for both us and our horse.
The third element is straightness. Once we have an appropriate pace and we’re maintaining that pace in a rhythm from start to finish, then we simply ride a straight track through the obstacles. Remember, a straight track doesn’t always mean a straight line from point A to point B! Straightness means that we follow the course from point to to point, usually the center of each jump, with a smooth and flowing line of travel. If we’re coming through a turn, straight means being bent appropriately for that turn so that the line of travel passes directly through the center of our horse’s body from poll to tail if we were looking down on him from above.
Life requires an appropriate pace that fits us individually, as well as the people we are in relationship with and the particular obstacles that we’re facing. Maintaining that pace is the rhythm that brings peace to our days and to our souls, so that we are not easily shaken and can move in faith, knowing that we are negotiating what is before us with an appropriate pace. And then we simply flow with straightness from point to point, smoothly, centered, and with integrity.
Is any course we ever ride really actually perfect? No. Not really. But it may be perfect for us and that horse and that course on that day. And when we finally walk out of the arena on a loose rein, our hope is that we can say, “I have fought the good fight! I have finished the race! I have kept the faith!” (see 2 Timothy 4:7)