People can own and ride horses for years, but never learn to truly move with their horse.
To think harmony with horses, we can easily equate it with music and dancing. But the real practical end of it is becoming more aware of and sensitive to others, and our surroundings. God showed us this for our sake by becoming one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. We emulate that by learning how to move like, and be a horse in motion ourselves.
In today’s world of one-man-band independence, brought on in a large part through modern automation, we all struggle to work together as God has had us do for thousands of years. But music and dancing, when it is good, demands a harmony of participants that helps all involved flow together, making them seem like they are all part of the same organism. Yet, when it is even better, it brings out the uniqueness of all the individuals also. Understanding the Trinity could be easier from this standpoint.
The best way for a rider to get in harmony with a horse from a rhythmical standpoint is to learn how to post to the correct diagonal. First of all, look down and be aware of where your horse’s front feet are at all times. Eventually we need to be able to look up in the air and feel exactly when the left front and right front feet hit the ground. When we trot a horse, diagonal pairs of legs move together, so the left front and right hind foot hit the ground at the same time. The second beat of this two beat measure is the right front and left hind. When we post, we learn to rise up and down on the horses back in rhythm with the front leg on the outside of the turn we are making. We are in a sense helping the horse push that foot into the ground to help them make the turn. On the straight we alternate as we see fit. The main point is we are learning to feel the horse’s legs underneath us as though we were moving them ourselves. Each different gait a horse has is a different rhythm. Just as in music, we have a 4-4 time, 2-4 time, and a 3-4 or 6-8 time. The more aware of it we are the better the unity between human and horse.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

Just as servant-heartedness is the hallmark of great Christians, it is also the foundation of great horsemanship. Our time on the ground moving next to our horse (emphasizing positioning ourselves right beside our horse’s front legs) and also having our horse circle around us helps us watch its feet and legs as they perform the different gaits, so we can play back the moving picture we have memorized in our mind as we ride them. This helps us see the difference between the right lead and left lead also.

Animals use two different sets of muscles to propel themselves forward. When they are in the right lead, muscles on the right side our pulling while muscles on the left are pushing. When the animal is on the left lead, the muscles reverse roles. The earlier example of posting helps us feel these leads when we move into a lope or run. We also learn to feel whether a horse is turning on its front end, hind end or a combination thereof. These are the kind of things that being “well grounded” teaches us.

The reason I call it “Jesus Christ stuff” is because what God did for us as Jesus in the flesh is far better than any other example in religion or anywhere else. The hands-on, well-grounded, walk-in-our-shoes example of Jesus is what we are imitating in horsemanship. As we begin to feel and see what a horse’s legs have to do to perform the different gaits, we then practice being a horse and truly begin to sense its legs as ours.

This is another thing that does not happen inside our heating and air conditioning sitting cross-legged. It happens because we follow the example of our God and get out and do it. The best Christmas present we can give, is not something else that dulls our senses and fuels our greed , but rather helps us and others reflect the unique example of Jesus Christ in becoming a doer as well as acknowledging him as the savior of us all.

Christmas time is indeed an incredible time. It shines light in the darkest, bleakest time of the year, pointing to a time in history when God pulled off the impossible feat of becoming a vulnerable baby, yet running the universe at the same time. Jesus Christ is the perfect gift for everyone by a long shot. I am convinced that hearts that reject this gift will be kicking themselves for eternity.

Mike Daniels is a horsemanship trainer and barefoot trimming specialist from Raymondville, Mo. Email: rlhorse58@yahoo.com.

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