Reining horses compete at breakneck speeds doing spins and slides, going from zero to 60 is a matter of seconds. The definition of a reining horse is being “willingly guided” meaning the horse performs amazing physical feats with minimal guidance and no resistance. The foundational characteristic of Christians and reining horses is the same; perfect willingness to be guided by the Trainer’s hand.
My equine career included National and World Champion reining horses although I wasn’t in the saddle when the titles were won.
These horses were products of our breeding program and I started each one under saddle and gave them good foundations. The end of my career in the show pen came when my knees no longer allowed me to remain balanced and stable in a sliding stop or to gallop left circles.
Reining horses blessed me as a Christian with in-the-saddle experience that taught me the difference between horses who are talented but unwilling and others who are not as talented but absolutely committed to doing all they could to please me. Jewels may be beautiful, but if they are unable to be set into the crown they are worthless. I learned that Jesus Christ is not concerned about our talents, but our willingness to be guided by His hand. The horses I committed to were those who returned the favor without reservation.
Every Step Counts for Christians and Reining Horses
When training a reining horse the first step of every maneuver is critical. In a spin the inside front foot must reach out to the side and backwards, properly aligning the body and providing room for the second front foot to cross over the first. If the first hoof is out of place the spin will be less than it could have been.
The same is true of rollbacks, lead changes, and lope departures. When the first foot is misplaced the journey ends in a different place than intended. The same is true for the Christian walk.
For either the reining horse or a child of God, while a first step may seem only slightly off path, that small degree of disobedience results in each subsequent step taking us further and further from the line we were supposed to travel. Correct sliding stops must be performed in a perfectly straight line of travel. The gate to heaven is at the end of a straight and narrow path. Any deviation in direction results in failure. It is trust and faith in our Teacher keeps us on the straight path of obedience.
Excellence Is Found in the Practice Pen
Obedience must be greatest when there is no audience in order to maximize each public performance. Training a reining horses is nothing more than teaching him or her tiny steps, one hoof at a time, until new habits are created. Through consistent practice, practice, practice, my horse will begin to trust me, build new muscle memory, and a new nature of being willingly guided slowly develops.
Whether from an excess of nerves or bravado, our ability to perform to perfection seldom rides into the show pen with us. It is the degree to which we remain focused on our achievements in the practice pen that determines our success in front of the public. Ministers and preachers will find themselves nodding in agreement… they can only correctly deliver a message from the Holy Spirit to the degree to which they were obedient while alone with their Teacher.
Oswald Chambers writes about being willingly guided:
To get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of will, an absolute and irrevocable surrender. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.
Rev. Chambers’ words apply equally to reining horses and Christians. Many of the messages of Amazing Grays Ministry use the relationship of humans and horses as a metaphor for that between God and His children. Horses bless us with simple vision. Horses know that all that matters is relationship and their very lives depend on worthy herd leadership, whether led by another horse or a human. Are we so different?
Are you willingly guided?
Note: The live link connected to the phrase “all that matters is relationship” in the last full paragraph takes you to the Amazon listing for Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace.