The Saddle Horn

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We’d been riding for about half an hour – nothing too difficult, just walking and trotting some simple patterns. The goal: keep it challenging enough so we retain her attention but simple enough so that we’re building confidence.

Well, I have been accused of being creative in my time, but evidently not creative enough to keep a nine-year-old engaged with walking and trotting patterns for longer than 30 minutes.

We took a quick pause. I blamed it on her needing a break, but it was really for me to try and come up with what we were going to do next. She didn’t give me time to figure it out.

“Now what Uncle James?” came the quick question from my nine year old niece, Taylor.

“I’m not sure yet Tay,” I said. “Maybe we’ll get the cones out.”

“I can run to the fence and back and you can time me,” she said with a hint of inquiry. Those of you who know Taylor know that this was actually a statement, not a question.

“OK,” I said “But, no saddle horn. You can’t hold on to the saddle horn.”

And that was the end of that.


But, that’s when I realized something interesting. She’s a mover, an action taker. She immediately decided that turning loose of the saddle horn was not an option – and at the very same time, she was determined to learn how to get that done.

Her response to the “forbidden saddle horn” lead me to something that had been eluding me for quite some time. Everyone’s life has obstacles. Some are greater than others. Until my ride with Taylor, my view on obstacles was two-fold:

  • Either we have the ability to look beyond the obstacle and, with Christ’s help, get through it.
  • Or, we have the presence of mind (or perhaps lack of sanity) to be able to be unaffected by obstacles/failures in life.

The problem is that these are characteristics that we’re born with. (or not) And if we don’t have them, we simply make decisions in life that lead to obligations that lead to an imprisoned routine to which we eventually surrender.

Here’s the thing:

Overcoming Obstacles/Failures/Misfortunes can be learned. We only have to do three things to be free.

  1. Recognize the obstacle for what it is.
    • We must accept that we are in a situation beyond our understanding, or beyond our abilities.
  2. Desire to change ourselves in order to overcome the obstacle.
  3. Turn loose of our “saddle horn“.

Regarding #1: Often times we are simply overwhelmed. We think it’s an impossible situation. “No one else has ever done this. Why should I even try?”

Taylor could have thought, “I’ve never loped without holding onto the saddle horn. I’ve never ridden in this arena. I’ve never even ridden this horse! It’s impossible.”

In some cases it’s the exact opposite. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll just move on.”

Taylor could have thought, “It’s just another horse show. I held the saddle horn last time. It’s not going to matter if I hold it again.” 

Look – The second you become aware of it, it does matter. And it’s SO important to remember that with Christ, it’s not impossible.

Regarding #2: We are a proud species. Even the humble folks are proud of the fact that they’re humble. 😉 It’s important to remember that the only way to change what’s around us, is to change what’s within us.

Taylor could have thought, “This horse is too rough. I need a smoother loping horse.” She also could have thought, “This saddle doesn’t fit me, I need a different saddle.”

Look – It’s not the horse, it’s not the saddle… it’s not your wife, it’s not your husband, or your job, or your family… or her family, or his family… It’s You. Desire to change yourself.

Regarding #3: Cut the strings. Remove the net. Turn loose of the saddle horn. We all have crutches in our lives. Recognize them as such.

Crutches do not help us to be who we are. Crutches prevent us from becoming whom God made us to be.

Turn loose. You can do it.

Ephesians 3:20

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

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5 thoughts on “The Saddle Horn

    1. A little generous with that word – wisdom – you think? Just kidding. I need to be better about just accepting a compliment… So, thanks Sue. Thanks for reading and thanks for the encouraging comment.

    1. Thanks Shannon! And thanks for letting us spend so much time with Taylor. She’s precious. Now we have to design a weekend special for Trinity… We’re thinking jewelry…. 😉

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