He was a horse... named Risky.
And he was a treasured part of our family for 12 years.
Cleaning our shed the other day brought back the memories...moving his saddle lifted a wave of his scent and even now I can almost touch his velvet soft muzzle and hear his nicker.
We were just moved into the farm, feeling our way around new chores and baby goats and raccoon bandits when he arrived. A Gift for one deliriously happy 10-year old daughter.
And he was a Gift. Bringing Beauty to our pastures and Delight to our days. We found he was a wonderful Goat Guardian and he earned his keep many times over.
Katie took to her job as Horse Keeper with the passion of a first love. Feeding, brushing, watering, and mucking stalls... we signed her up for some basic Horse Riding Lessons and enjoyed watching the fun from the sidelines.
Her teacher was calm and hilariously inventive. One night she had Katie riding bareback all over the arena carrying an egg in a spoon...teaching balance. And success was finally achieved many dozens of eggs later... Another night she had Katie working the lunge line from the ground. Our tiny 80lb baby girl and a 1,000lb horse circling her with only a soft line and her words...teaching control.
So much to learn... hoof care, conformation, saddling, bridling and finally riding...
And one of the lessons that has stuck with me these many years past is the simple half-halt.
Perhaps you've heard of it, perhaps not. It is a technique used when riding to get your horse's attention. As I listened to the instructor explain this particular manuever, I was struck by it's profound life applications (and she thought she was just teaching a riding lesson...)
To understand, let me share what the instructor said that night.
A half-halt is used to get a horse's attention, and to ask him to balance. You use a half-halt when you are about to ask the horse to do something: to go from a trot to a canter, to make a turn, to speed up or slow down without changing gaits, etc. To perform the half-halt you actually are giving 2 signals to the horse simultaneously... squeezing your seat to ask for a whoa and squeezing your calves to ask for continued movement forward. But you stop the signals before he slows down or "halfway" to his halt.
The half-halt itself is not a request for a change of pace or direction. The main purpose of the half-halt is to rebalance the horse...
Did you get it? The main purpose of the half-halt is to rebalance...
It is asking the horse to carry its weight slightly more on his hindquarters, listening to you, anticipating and preparing for the change that you will be asking of him, for the change that is coming.
Seriously. That is the half-halt.
How many times since then have I said to my soul... time for a half-halt.
Time for rebalance. Time to anticipate and prepare for the changes that are coming.
Do you feel it too sometimes? The Life-Giver isn't asking for a change of pace or direction at the moment... But for rebalance, to get our attention, to prepare us for the moments ahead.
Asking us to listen. To be still my soul and simply listen...
Rebalancing our life's priorities, more focus on Him, less focus on the busy chaos around us. Continuing the journey forward but with anticipation for the coming change.
Maybe you are in the midst of horrific cancer treatment, perhaps you have just had painful surgery, could be the love of your life has been pulled from your arms, might just be the new school year begun...
The Life we live, the Journey we are on is filled with these moments of hard hills and deep valleys. And sometimes in the midst He asks of us a half-halt. To Rebalance, To Listen Close, To Accept Strength for What Lies Ahead...
I am reminded anew of His promises in Isaiah 40:31, the Amplified Version...
"But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired."
Such Truth, Such Hope, Such Promise.
Trusting With Grace in the Middle of Half-Halt,
Love Always, Jane