"The True Way"
The Round Corral ~ The Rope and Flag ~ Hooking On ~ Learning to Learn
Yielding the Whole Body ~ Blanket, Saddle, and Rider ~ In the Saddle ~ Use of Aids
Some Elements of Horsemanship ~ Distractions ~ The Quick Fix ~ Natural Horsemanship?
The Soft Feel ~ Spade Bit ~ Out of the Arena ~ Who's Calling the Shots? ~ Straightness
by Jan Young
Tom Dorrance had a lot to say about straightness. "...straightness in a horse is one of the most important things to keep in mind, right from the time you start riding him." Straightness does not mean riding in only straight lines, with no bending, turning or circling. Tom used the term to speak of a horse being balanced on both sides--centered.
We want the life to come straight through the horse's center in any direction of travel. We don't want him uneven: not bracing, bulging or dragging on one side. Like humans, many horses are crooked because they favor their right or their left side, or are weaker on one side from habitually doing something on the other side. We can help position the horse so he can develop his weaker side and be more effective in whatever he is doing. It might take some firmness to help him even up.
Straightness begins inside the horse, in his mind. If he is looking all around, his mind is not centered on the rider or the job, and his balance will reflect that. We want his attention, with a good attitude, fixed on whatever we are doing or whatever direction we have chosen. We want him relaxed and confident. We want him so centered on us that if we dropped the reins on his neck, he would still line out and travel where we are looking, straight between our hands and legs.
In the years Jack started colts and cowboyed with Ray Hunt, back in the 1960's BC (Before Clinics), they used to talk about how sensitive a horse could be to following the slightest suggestion from your body, because moving one part results in subtle movements of other parts. They talked about how perhaps some day you could direct the horse just by rolling your eyes in the direction you wanted to go. If a horse was straight, inside and out, he could maybe become that light.
God is also interested in straightness. His way is straight.
Isaiah 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (King James Version)
This Hebrew word is about being even, balanced all the way through, being straightforward, upright, pleasing.
James 3:3-4 Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for "straight" is used here to point out how something as small as a bit or a rudder enables the chariot driver or the ship's pilot to guide, direct, keep level, keep straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
As with horses, that is not about traveling in straight lines--life's paths are often not smooth straight lines. But if Self is being submitted to the Master Horseman, we can be balanced, straightforward and pleasing to Him even on the rockiest, most winding paths.
Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look directly ahead, And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
If our attention is fixed on Him and the way of straightness, we can be light to His subtle leading.
Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (King James Version)
I remember how flabbergasted Jack was to find the Bible hinting that the very thing he and Ray had speculated about was actually possible. I guess we will find out when Jesus comes back, riding on that white horse.
Permission is granted to freely copy this document, "The True Way" (unmodified), in electronic form, or in print if you are not selling it. Author credit must be included.
All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.