Warm Up

warming up horse before rodeo event

Warming up before a rodeo roping event

Although I am not a horseman, my wife grew up riding horses and our 12-year-old is a rodeo athlete.  My role seems to be a crazy mix of stable hand, horse groomer, cheerleader, photographer, and student.

I’m learning and having a lot of fun in the process!  🙂

One of the things I’ve learned is the importance of the warm-up.  Watching the kids prepare for a rodeo or practice, they always warm up their horse beforehand.  Similarly, before I let one of the grandkids ride a horse, I first ride it around myself to warm it up.

If a rider hops on a horse and takes off without a proper warm up, unpredictable things tend to happen.  At best, starts and stops may be slower than desired and attention to rider signals will be lax.  And depending on the horse, frequency of workouts, weather, and a host of other variables, the horse may buck, act up, or outright rebel against the rider.

Although the warm up is physical activity, it is mostly about the horse’s mental preparedness.

When a horse is left for extended periods to run the pasture without being worked, he tends to start acting entitled.  He starts forgetting his role on the farm.  Roles invert, with the horse acting like the master is his servant, charged with serving his needs with no right to expect anything of the horse.

The warm up is intended to correct this misperception.  It is a focused attitude adjustment activity.  It reminds the horse of his role to serve the will of the rider, and refreshes recollection of nonverbal rider cues.  The warm up prepares the horse for peak performance and quick response to rider prompts.

The more frequently a horse is ridden the shorter the required warm up period.  For horses used frequently, a ten minute warm up works well.  However, a horse left unworked for several months will require a much longer warm up, and really needs increased riding frequency for peak performance.

I find myself reminded that I’m not so different from a horse.

If left unused for extended periods, I tend to start acting entitled…treating God like He is responsible for serving my needs with no right to expect anything from me.  Before I can be useful for kingdom service, I sometimes require a warm up…a temporary period of discomfort designed to adjust my attitude and prepare me for service.

And, like our horses, the longer I go between times of service, the more warm up I require.

To stay prepared for service, I need to serve frequently.  To hear and respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompts, I need to continually listen and respond.

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

Your thoughts?

[Linked to Messy Marriage, Graceful, Wellspring ]


23 thoughts on “Warm Up

  1. I had no idea about the “entitled” mentality they get. I guess the stubborn horses I’ve been on would fall into that class.

    Kind of reminds me of Ancient Israel. They kind of needed a bit in their mouths to show them the way…

    • The great part about my current status as “not a horseman”…yet living on a farm with horses and working with them daily…is that I get a sort of insider’s view with an outsider’s perspective.

      Every horse has their own personality, and part of the fun is getting to know each one. So, I’m generalizing a bit when I talk about the ‘entitled’ mentality…not to mention making some assumptions about what the horse may be thinking based on my observations of their behavior.

      BUT…as a rule…they tend to get quite demanding around feeding time. And, if left unused in the pasture for a while, they can become quite stubborn and difficult, acting as though we have no right to ask them to do anything.

      So, it depends on the individual horse and how long they’re left unused. But it’s a definite trend.

      Thank you, David!

  2. I had no idea about the warm-up period for horses. But it makes sense. And warm-ups for us? Ouch. But yes, you’re right–when we go a long time between serving, it takes longer to get back into the groove. It’s better to stay active continually…even though I often fail to…

    • See there, I HAVE learned a few things being married to a cowgirl! 🙂

      Yes, the more consistently we respond to those Holy Spirit prompts, the eaiser it is to respond!

      Thank you, Lisa!

  3. Interesting parallel, Joe. And then of course, this reminds me of Prov. 32:9 “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” 🙂 I have a tendency to be like that old stubborn horse, so this is a truth that I’m convicted by and want to submit to today! Thanks for the reminder and challenge!

    • Yes, I thought of that passage, as well.

      These days, my prayers often run more along the lines of, “God, You know I tend to be like a stubborn horse, quick to forget and slow to respond. But You also know that deep down I truly do want to know You, to love You, and to serve You. So, please, keep your bit in my mouth and your spurs near my flanks. Call me to service often, so I won’t forget your prompting!”

      Thanks for stopping by, Beth!

  4. This is so insightful, Joe. How fascinating to get a little glimpse into this part of your world. Yes, I am not unlike the horse, either :). Valuable food for thought, my friend.

  5. The idea of a warm up is great. What a great analogy. “Although the warm up is physical activity, it is mostly about the horse’s mental preparedness.” This is very instructive. It has application in so many areas of life. Thanks for sharing!
    I am visiting via Messy Marriage.

    • Welcome to the blog, Steve!

      Yes, there are many applications. I took it a spiritual direction, but if I was blogging on health and fitness I could have gone a completely different direction and still be just as applicable.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  6. Hi Joe, I just love this post, and I was smiling and shaking my head in agreement remembering our horses when we let them sit too long. Like horses, we do need mental preparation and “maintenance” to keep us in good service for our purpose. So glad I stopped in from Messy Marriage.

    • They can sure forget their training after a few months in the pasture, can’t they, Kim?

      And so can we…

      Blessings to you!

  7. Pingback: Lessons Learned in 3-D: Stay in Shape | Lyli Dunbar - Keeping the Faith Day by Day -3-D Lessons for Life

  8. I grew up on a horse farm. I understand being a stable hand. I agree about the warm up too, in all ways. I love your occasional posts and pics on Facebook of your fields and rides. It feels so homey.

    • Thank you, Dan! It feels very homey on this end, too.

      I love our little farm and love enjoying the horses, as a family.

      I sometimes wish I was a better rider…but I’m better than I was…and can, at least, ride well enough to enjoy a nice easy trail ride.

      I know the horse farm you grew up on carries a lot of painful memories for you. I’m glad you’re still able to enjoy the animals and scenery!

      Blessings to you, my friend!

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