Keys to a Smooth Course! Step 3 - Straightness
So, we have an appropriate pace for the course set before us. We are maintaining that pace purposefully by keeping a steady rhythm. And now it’s time to enjoy the ride! This really is the fun part! We get to ride the course, from the center of each jump, tackling each obstacle and change of direction, as well as the hills, valleys, and turns that present themselves. So how do we stay the course and not end up with a run out, a refusal, a cheap rail, or a time penalty? Straightness can be the key to avoiding a lot of those little pitfalls that cause such big frustration!
First things first - we need to look where we’re going! We must lift our eyes from the ground and look ahead of us. We can’t look too far ahead because we’ll miss a jump. But if we look down we’ll probably end up there as well! So instead we look to the next jump as we approach and once we know we’re straight and are maintaining our pace in rhythm, we look past that jump to the next jump.
So, how do we do this in the course of life? By “fixing our eyes on Yahushua, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of YHWH.” And what was the joy set before Him? US. We are the joy set before Him! He knew that by enduring the cross, He was reconciling the world to Himself (see 2 Corinthians 5:19). And that gave Him the strength and purpose to go through an unspeakably anguishing death.
It was the JOY of what was to come. By looking up we can have that same joy! We do not need to dread what lays ahead of us. We can be joyful on the journey. The course is fun when we have that kind of eternal joy set before us!
We want our horse to enjoy the course and not dread each approaching jump. By not only riding him in an appropriate pace, as well as maintaining the pace with rhythm, we can help him to be confident and enjoy the course by riding him in straightness - through his body, and along the track that we travel. Remember our horse didn’t get to memorize the course! When he steps into the ring all he sees is a bunch of sticks and walls, and left to his own choice, he would go around every one of them. Really, that makes a lot more sense than jumping them when there’s plenty of room to just pass on by! Let us never stop appreciating the giving nature of these amazing animals we ride. Let’s be thankful and joyful for every jump they jump, and help them avoid feeling the need to stop or run past any of them.
Straightness doesn’t just refer to the line we travel, but also the straightness of the horse’s actual body. By riding our horse’s body in a way that the line of travel passes through the center of his body from poll to tail (if we are looking down on him from above) we first create integrity within his own body. So we must do our homework - riding flat work consistently so that our horse can bend comfortably laterally both ways and can stretch and stay connected longitudinally from back to front. Only when his actual body has this quality of straightness can we hope to travel on a smooth track from obstacle to obstacle.
There is a plumb line, so to speak that runs through our whole body! This is the integrity that is essential when we are lined up with the Word of God! Our line of travel might have many bends, twists and turns, but straightness is the quality of integrity through the horse’s body and ours as we negotiate those twists and turns.
By listening to YHWH and following His Voice and His Word we will be on track for a peaceful course, even when it’s long and sometimes difficult. And when we study and live according to His Word, the Scriptures, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” ( ) When we live in the Truth, like 3 John 3 says, we will have the sincerity and faithfulness in our lives by His Word that brings the integrity that creates “straightness” in our lives.
I love the scripture in Isaiah 30:21 that reads, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” YHWH is like our rider - the Voice behind us! How comforting for a horse to have a capable rider behind him who knows where he or she is going and communicates that clearly and kindly to the horse! And how comforting to know that we have that kind of “rider” behind and before us - YHWH who knows exactly where we’re going and how to get there, and will communicate it to us clearly and kindly. All we have to do is be attentive - listen and obey! Easier said than done, right?! Should give us a lot more compassion for our horses!