Bareback riding

I bought my first horse at 14 years of age.

I had saved $150 from three months working on a newspaper bicycle route. I bought a bridle from a Tandy Leather kit for $15 or so. The halter came with the horse, so the only things I needed were curry comb, brush, hoofpick and a saddle.

My first horse died of colic after six weeks, so my mom lended me part of $175 to buy another horse. I rode without a saddle for three months. I would look in the newspapers I delivered to find good deals on horses and saddles, but by the time I bought a saddle I had quite a bit of practice riding bareback.

At an earlier age my parents would take us riding at nearby rental stables on saddle horses. After my dad died when I was 11, my mom continued to take us five kids to rental stables a few times a year.

My bareback riding helped me develop a good independent seat on a horse more than anything else. God has ways of getting us better out of necessity. People seem to think that we hold on with our knees when riding bareback, but that is not quite true. The only time that may be true is when we’re bracing for a stop. In fact, I use that as a signal for a horse to stop before pulling on the reins.

The main reason we stay on a horse when riding bareback is because we move just as the horse moves. When the horse is walking, trotting or running, we are copying these movements as close as possible on the horse’s back. It is mostly our waist and back action that keeps us from bouncing off or being left behind. We can also use this same action to slow down or speed up based on the tempo we are playing on our horse’s back.

Like in music, we show our horse through our body whether we want 4-4 time, 2-4 time or 3/4 time which would be a walk, trot or lope.

The horse can feel us ask for a full out run the same way. The reason we stay on our horse’s back for stop, go, left and right is because we anticipate the horse’s moves. If we don’t, we fall off (or grab some mane).

I call this the Jesus Christ perspective because we are in a sense becoming a horse just as Jesus did when God himself became one of us. If people ask me about sharing Christ or talking about or glorifying God in any way, I am most excited about sharing that core concept more than anything else. The true sacrifice of involving ourselves in what it is like to move in someone else’s shoes is the real thing. To think that the creator of the universe (the biggest boss of all) did voluntarily, personally take on a puny body like ours, for making the greatest sacrifice ever with no personal benefit is so mind-boggling. The most extraordinary example of greatness with God being able to run the universe, yet becoming a vulnerable baby as Jesus Christ at the same time, is so amazing yet so practical.

The true gospel does not water down Jesus by denying Godhood to Jesus or attributing gain to God in any way except to save believers. Where this differs with bareback riding is us riders do gain. We get a smoother, safer, more enjoyable ride because we flow together as a true team or partnership.

The longer we live, the more we see the opposite of this happening naturally. Jesus Christ’s great sacrifice should motivate us to make the living sacrifices necessary to help us here.

God help us all practice these things that will make us more excited about heaven.

Mike Daniels is a horsemanship trainer and barefoot trimming specialist from Raymondville. His columns are posted online at www.houstonherald.com. Email: rlhorse58@yahoo.com.

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