There is something about the feel of a supple horse.
Power: contained. Energy: refined.
A collected, supple horse is forward movement with purpose.
And for some horses, their advanced training allows them to leave the bit behind. This submission to the bit has been refined in such a way that their muscles, and ultimately their spirit, allows them to move in proper form even without the support and guidance of the bit.
The horse is collected and in complete control.
But the process to get to that point isn’t easy. It takes countless hours of discipline and practice. Any horse, with or without the bit, who is muscled, sleek and rounded from poll to tail, can show an ability to move forward, backwards, in side passes, two tracking and half passes without any visual movement of the cowboy’s hands or legs. Even the slightest movement of a cowboy’s fingers relays the intended message to the horse’s mouth and the desired response is accomplished.
I entered into this world of working horses at the tender age of ten, riding an ex-racehorse no less. The first thing to tackle on this high strung horse was to supple her mouth, neck and body. Gently back and forth, over and over, day after day. That was the first thing I did when I swung my leg over her back: ask for supple.
Ask and give, pull and release. First at the walk and then trot and later at the lope.
My age wasn’t the only tender area. Oh, my fingers! At the end of my riding lessons and hours of riding, I would get off the horse and begin to feel a soft, gooey stickiness between my pinkys and ring fingers. And then the sting of the horse sweat. My fingers were raw from the continual, gentle flexing with the reins between my fingers.
But all the work, sweat and tears (ha! Yes, tears!) paid off. All of that repetition resulted in a horse who was giving, able to do and accomplish much more than when the work began.
When the asking started, it resulted in tugs and open resistance. Sometimes, until consistency and repetition were forged, the exact opposite of what was being asked was the result. A horse without control, may take the bit and run wild. They may tug and pull and fight it. This “giving process” is hard because as they are being asked to give, they are also being asked to build the muscles needed to carry themselves properly. And building muscles is hard work.
It’s easier to just be and go without doing it correctly.
But in the end, beautiful, fluid movement emerges.
Truly, with each horse and rider, it is much easier to give, flex and work together.
That is the beauty of the bit.
In relation to the size of the horse, it is a small peace of metal in the mouth of a large, powerful animal that has a mind and will of its own.
Submission to the bit is the key to control. That one small bit controls the entire horse.
“A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse.” James 3
Quite true. That seems to be established now.
But what does that have to do with us? What does that have to do with me?
I think that’s a really good question.
Stick out your tongue and touch your nose. Can you do it? I can 🙂
That tongue hooked to the back of your mouth that does a lot of talking, controls your entire life, your entire body and many times it controls the people around you.
Don’t believe me? Go up to your husband or wife and say, “You low life, I can’t believe how incredibly stupid you are. You don’t do anything! What are you accomplishing??” (But after you say that, please apologize! 😉 )
Or get up every morning and declare: “I hate life, it doesn’t have any meaning! What is the point!?”
Send me a message of the response of your loved one and let me know how you are feeling after a week of your declarations.
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
Although James 3 clearly tells us that the tongue has never been tamed, it does not give us an excuse to carelessly fling words into the wind, not caring where they land.
We must be mindful of our words and gauge if what we are saying is coming from a fresh spring. Our fruits should be a representation of the vine we are grafted into. Wisdom tells us that our words come from the source that is feeding it. And we can never get around the fact that our words are a source to those feeding on them.
Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do:
- Live well
It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. In a world where accomplishments are represented in success, money and things, it can sometimes be confusing as to what “live well” could represent. I wonder if sometimes we talk too much. Less talk and day to day living in wisdom just may be one way to tame that untamely tongue. Living it out well means turning our ambitions to loving those around us, and most times that means “Shhhh” and do.
Step in, reach out, live it.
- Live wisely
Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. To anyone paying attention, living wisely is evident and does not need to be pointed out. Being wise starts with asking like Solomon, “Lord, I want to be wise, Your wise, not world wise.”
- Live humbly
Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats. A humble life realizes that it’s not about image, or being better than anyone. Being humble simply means having a modest estimate of one’s own importance. You are important. And yes, God does care about your dreams but never is it beneficial to tout that knowledge and let it become bragging rights.
It really can’t be summed up any better than this: Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
Do put that bit in your mouth. There will probably be some rough and sore spots as the give and take of submission works and wears on your soul.
But it will be beautiful.
And the beauty is that as you work on living well, wisely and humbly, you will realize it is much easier to work together with Jesus as He asks you to give and flex and muscle up those weak areas.
It’s easier to just be and go without doing it correctly. I challenge you to partner with Him. Start by putting in that metaphorical bit and give Him the reins to move every thought, action and word that comes out of your mouth.