Surrender is such a beautiful thing when done correctly.  Until I was sitting in church listening to Pastor Drew this Sunday, I don’t think I REALLY considered what our horses give up for us every time we touch them.

(Yes, Drew, that’s what I got out of your message, lol.)  God calls us to abandon our own plans in favor of His.  Not because He is full of Himself, or an ego maniac, though He could be because He’s always right.  But because He knows what is best and loves us.

We call our horses to abandon their own plans in favor of ours.  They have visions of lounging around lazily, eating in the shade.  Playing bite face with their neighbors, ripping off/shredding and hiding their fly masks.  Getting their “mystery” wound of the day and waiting for us to come clean it with $30 spray, staring and pondering how they could have possibly cut themselves there of all places as we stare into the wound, waiting for answers to come from it like one of those 3D pictures from Walmart. 

Then we come along to mess up their plans.  We expect them to stand quietly while we halter them.  Or to voluntarily meet us half way or even at the gate!  And you know what?  Most of them do.  They lower their heads into the halter, breathe a sigh of surrender and follow to see what we have in store for them.

Follow.  Such a short and simple word… but it means so many things.  You see, to follow means they have to wait on us.  The horse must wait for our foot steps and then they must decide to go where we go.  At the pace that we’re going.  They must keep enough float (slack) in the lead rope so that they can feel our direction and intentions through the rope, but not pull back or be so sluggish that the rope is taught, dragging them along with us.  And they must follow without us first letting them in on our plans for the day.

I don’t have to first politely tell my horse what I’d like to do for the day, wait for him to approve of my plan, my timing and the way I’d like to go about things before he’ll decide if he’d like to get on board or not.  Nor would I expect to.  I would wonder why his little walnut brain had the audacity to expect ME to take the time out of my busy day to explain and justify my plan to him ahead of time- after all, with my superior planning skills, greater intellect and, well, thumbs, he should just blindly follow, right?!

Then we ask of them any number of things.  Some of them they expect… Some not so much.  Some they expect but know they don’t like, some things they look foward to. 

My gelding Davis hates to have his hind legs sprayed.  With anything.  The hose, spray bottles, etc.  He also hates the vet doing anything with his hind end… leftover issues from many vet experiences related to that neato ability I mentioned earlier to be able to hurt yourself on anything.  He also gets cannon crud.  An oily grossness on the front side of his hind legs- it’s from peeing and splashing.  Yes, yuck.  Most days he’s getting something sprayed on his legs or having them washed… He hates it.  But I know what’s best for him so I do it anyway.

I reassure him that he’ll be fine.  I give him room to get away if he feels he has to.  But I treat him like a big boy and expect him to trust me and stay with me.  And you know what?  He’s survived every time, just like I promised him.  :~)

Then we look at surrender in relation to riding.  Davis is so responsive and soft most of the time…  I can think to turn, move my reins ever so slightly and lay a little bit of leg on one side and over he goes.  Around and around the arena we move, in unison.  The ultimate goal is for my cues to be so slight that an onlooker would be hardpressed to notice them.  The feeling of having a horse under you that is so focused on what you’re asking of them at ever step is amazing… it makes your heart beat with more base.  Your lungs breathe more deeply and things outside the arena fade into a blur like an abstract painting. 

Surrender is a beautiful thing to behold.  Even when I’m the onlooker and not the one riding.  I watch a gorgeous reining pattern or fence work with cattle and my breath catches in my throat as I jump to the edge of my seat! 

If at any moment that horses stops, plants it’s feet and says “No, I’m going to need you to explain your plan to me before I’m going to decide to follow it or not.” the whole thing loses it’s beauty.  It fades away like a quickly deflating birthday balloon making a gigantic farting sound on the way out.

No one wants to watch a ride where the horse has to be constantly talked into softness, constantly babied and reassured.  Sure, as riders that’s often what we have to ride and you ride the horse you have that day.  But the goal is always the soft surrender.  The goal is always to have a horse that WANTS to follow you confidently and quietly.  The goal is always the ride where horse and rider are moving as one- you don’t see one without the other, the horse is a reflection of the rider’s will and intentions. 

So here’s my question- Why, if I can so clearly see the beauty and benefit of surrender like this, why am I missing it so often?  I would be the absurd example of the horse that wants an explanation for my walnut brain.  I would be the horse that trots away sometimes instead of meeting my Master at the gate.  I would be the wide eyed horse at the end of a taught lead rope thinking that surely I would not survive the afternoon.  Even though, experience would dictate that I’d be just fine.

I long for the kind of content surrender that Davis has.  I think God is using him as my example… to quietly whisper to my soul.   Now, if I can just keep a float in my line, walk where He walks, move at the pace He sets.  Not move with anticipation of what happens next, but make each step as He asks, always ready to turn right or left.  Always ready to stop hard.  Always ready to move from a walk to a canter. 

Yes, sometimes I may swish my tail… but my life would be much more beautiful if I traveled like a good horse :~)

Comments are closed.