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Passive Passenger, or Focused Rider?

The owner of a Missouri Fox Trotter came to our barns for help. “All he’s ever done is a hard trot,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “No one has been able to get him to fox trot. I seriously doubt he has any gait in him, or he surely would have expressed it by now."

The horse was the result of four generations of registered fox trotting horses, so I presumed this was a training issue, and started walking the owner through the basics of obtaining a smooth riding gait. This consists, first, of asking the horse for greater speed and length of stride at the simple walk. She banged her heels into her horse’s side, and he picked up speed for a stride or two before slowing back down to a lethargic dog walk. Occasional taps with a riding crop produced similar results. Though I encouraged her to be more insistent and persistent at making him maintain speed, she was immediately discouraged when he refused to do so.

I decided to ride the horse to show her that it was possible to make Blue sustain an energetic walk. “We’re in for a rodeo now,” I laughed, as I mounted the big horse.

“Oh no,” the owner insisted, “Blue is very easy going. He would never do anything bad under saddle.”

Blue immediately set out to prove his owner wrong. In fact, once I insisted he maintain the speed and level of energy I was asking for, he didn’t hesitate to throw in a few crow hops and spins to let me know his opinion of this new riding regimen. His owner was flabbergasted.

“He’s never acted like this before,” she said, obviously embarrassed.

“I believe you,” I assured her. “He was content just to schlep along. Now he’s being held accountable to actually put some effort into the job by a rider with higher expectations, who disciplines him for being lazy and inattentive. Like any spoiled child, he’s not too happy about this turn of events!”

Within an hour Blue was willingly performing a smooth little fox trot – and his owner was convinced that focused consistency in her riding cues was not only necessary for the purpose of obtaining gait, but better for her and Blue’s overall relationship.

Those of us who prefer to just schlep along in our spiritual walk are in danger of becoming like that lazy horse. As soon as the Lord places any real demands upon us (and sooner or later, He will), we lose our easygoing attitudes and respond in a resentful and rebellious manner.

Unlike the horse, however, we can prepare ourselves for the spiritual work of discipleship by maintaining focus on an energetic and vital relationship with our Master – before He has to resort to stronger measures to whip us into shape.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest- and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. Proverbs 6: 6-11

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. Eph. 6: 10-11

 

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