I was raised around horses all my life and some of my best childhood memories and lessons came from those days. I was a quarter horse man and loved training cutting horses. I think it was the speed and agility they showed, and of course, how they could outrun a gaited horse. The non-quarter horse breeds at the time didn’t even seem important to me so I didn’t give them much consideration. Those breeds fell into the category of gaited horses. Gaited horses come in all varieties. There are horses that Rack, Pace, Stride, and many other colorful terms for the type of gait they take when walking, trotting, or galloping. With all those choices in horses I still came down on the side of the quarter horse until the year I joined a Saddle Club.
I was a member of one particular Saddle Club during those days and that club would go on horse rides that went on for miles. It was great to get with a group of horse riders and go through trails and roads that went deep into the hills of the Missouri Hills. My first time on a trail ride though was eye opening and painful. As we pulled up with my horse trailer and unloaded my quarter horse, I noticed people talking to each and commenting about my horse. They seemed to be laughing also, and I thought, “somethings up.” No one came forward to make any comments so I ignored it, saddled up, and got ready to ride. We got a few instructions, had a prayer, and headed off. I decided to hang near the back until I got to know the ropes of the group. As the last horse went by an elderly man on a beautiful black horse turned to me and said, “Is that a quarter horse?” I said, “Yes, it is!” He just turned back to the trail and said quietly, “um huh.” What was that supposed to mean? Now my curiosity was killing me. I was going to find out what was all the hubbub about my horse.
It didn’t take long. On trail rides all the horses follow each other at a particular pace, which in horse terms is known as a trot. It was not only a slow trot, but it was an aggressive trot. The only problem with that speed of a trot was it made my horse do the roughest gate possible. After about a mile of this gate I had to either walk my horse and fall behind, and then sprint to catch up. The constant speed of the trot was loosening my teeth and I wasn’t going to last long. By the way, I was riding the only quarter horse on the trail ride. That should explain the older man’s “um huh.” To say the least I had a miserable day and realized I was on the wrong horse to be able to ride the long rides. When I got home my dad bought me a Fox Trotter to go on the trail rides and riding that horse was like sitting in an easy chair. Heaven!!!
This brings to mind the constant struggles that seem to follow the life of a person who may be riding the wrong horse in their life. Struggles are a part of life and we will have them from time to time, but sometimes struggles are very self-induced. Because of a lack of discernment we may start following a particular path that leads us from one problem to the next. What horse are you riding? Is it a horse that slows down and then runs at a sprint just to keep on the trail. Or are you riding one that is made for the long haul? Maybe some of the struggles you are experiencing in life is because you get on the wrong track from the beginning and then it just gets more difficult and painful. I have one thing to say, “get off that horse!” You will probably have many times to change horses and those who know the right horse (Jesus Christ) will try to help you change directions, but the ultimate change is made when you get off the wrong horse and get on the right one. You will still have struggles but you won’t get off course, you will keep moving forward. If you aren’t a Christian, then Jesus is your only choice and you need to surrender to him by faith. If you are a Christian, then you need to stay on the trail and just change horses. Change from a worldly version of the Christian Life and follow God’s Word and not men’s impressions. Just don’t stop!!! Galatians 5:7 says, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Sounds like someone was on the wrong horse…
The Fox Trotter was the horse of choice for me from there on. The great thing about a Fox Trotter is when they are hitting their best gait it is very smooth. The way they keep that gait smooth is this; their back hooves step immediately where their front hooves just made an impression. If you look at one of their footprints in the mud you will see only one set, even though two sets are there. The smoothest ride for you and me will always be when our footprints line up with the ones Jesus makes for us. That is when we will be the most in tune with God and that is when this ole trail ride called “life” becomes not only bearable, but winnable.
Are you on a quarter horse? You may be on the wrong horse. If you are in it for the long haul, choose the Fox Trotter. All the rough riding will smooth out and you will see a clear trail ahead.
The Pilgrimage continues…. David Warren