Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Behind the Bit



“Headset” is a bad word in my vocabulary.

Thankfully, most judges these days aren’t fooled by that horse with his nose tucked in, looking past the head to analyze the balance, rhythm and relaxation of the whole picture.

I often describe the horse as in a box, a shape or frame. The rider sends him forward from her legs  (the back of the box) into her hands (the front of the box). The horse rounds his top line and softens to the bit and the energy springs upward rather than running forward. But when the front and the back of the box are rigid, or their boundaries inconsistent, the horse learns to  
  1. lean on them (the heavy horse)
  2. fight them (rooting the reins out of the rider’s hands) 
  3. or avoid them (behind the bit). 
Once a horse learns how to escape the noisy or inconsistent hands of a rider, he’ll tend to hide behind the bit even with a rider of educated hands, avoiding the annoyance before it begins. In horse psychology, this is called “avoidance conditioning”. He’s found an escape route that works and it becomes his default whether or not the threat is still present.
Kinda like cringing in the dentist chair after he’s pricked you once or twice with that sharp little tool. Hard to relax.
“Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice shame on me”. So the saying goes. So many folks protect themselves from further hurt by avoiding confrontation, love or risk. 
I’ve found the behind-the-bit horse can be corrected by teaching horse to accept my hands. With flowing, “rubbery” arms, I follow his neck out, alert to any slight inclination from him to reach out in response to my legs sending him forward. I follow every little stretching attempt with a fluid, arm….time after time… until he finds the sweet spot.
We’ve all been hurt and embarrassed in life. Avoidance conditioning says “never again!”
Forgive. Learn from mistakes. Rise to the next challenge. 
When I sense God asking me to stretch myself and I respond to the challenge, I find a sweet spot where He meets me, despite my fear.

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