Keys to a Smooth Course! Step 1 - Pace
The first key to riding a smooth jump course is what I refer to as Pace. Pace is the appropriate speed to successfully negotiate the particular course and obstacles that are set before us. How do we find the appropriate pace? We need to consider a few things.
First we need to know what course we’re riding and that it’s suitable to our ability and experience as well as to our horse’s ability and experience. If the course is too scary for us or our horse, the appropriate pace will probably be too scary as well! And then the course will confirm our greatest fear because we will be too scared to ride it at the appropriate pace and will miss, crash and probably burn! So let us start off by making sure we’re entered in the best suited division for us and our horse.
Next we need to know the height of the fences we will be jumping, the distances between the jumps, and the terrain and footing that the jumps are set on. All of these variables will factor into finding the appropriate pace for each part of the course. If our course is set in a flat arena, with uniform distances and jump heights, like a typical hunter course, then our pace will most likely be the same from start to finish. But if those variables vary a lot during the course, like a jumper course set in a derby field, our pace will need to change to be appropriate to each presented element.
What if we aren’t sure what pace is appropriate even after we’ve entered the best suited division and have carefully considered the variables of each course? Then what? That’s where a good trainer comes in, and faith! If we’re riding with a trainer who knows what they’re doing, they can help by walking the course with us, or studying it with us and looking at the posted distances. We can come up with a plan together and learn from their knowledge and experience. Trusting them and carrying out the plan takes faith!
Life isn’t always a hunter course if you get my drift! (OH NO! Don’t drift! We will get to straightness soon!) Sometimes it’s more like that jumper course in the big derby field! Our pace will need to change as we change, our relationships change, and our circumstances change. But it doesn’t change erratically. Instead it changes appropriately for the time, the place, the people, and the circumstance. Finding the “right pace”, whether that means finding one pace and sticking to it for the whole course, or changing our pace appropriately for the changes in our course, is the 1st step to living a life in step with the Spirit of YHWH.
(Quick note: Just because the “hunter” course seems like a simpler task doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier! Sometimes it’s harder to do something simple! Being still and maintaining the same pace from start to finish may be simple, but it’s not always easy! Both “hunter” and “jumper” courses have their own unique sets of challenges!)
Psalm 31:14 & 15 in the Amplified version says, “But I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord (YHWH); I said, You are my God (Elohim). My times are in Your hands.” Isn’t it comforting to know that our times are in YHWH’s hands?! It’s as if He has the reins to our life and will show us the pace we need if we will listen and keep listening. Oh for that kind of faith and trust! We will still be jumping jumps, but we will be doing it with a smoothness and flow that exudes peace even in the midst of each course’s unique challenges.