Although the chances of me ever having a racehorse are slim to none, if I ever owned one, his name would undoubtedly be Smelly Barbarelly. This is the name of my imaginary race horse endearingly named after my sister, Barbie, who is a horse racing enthusiast.
This past summer the horse racing world was all a stirred as thoroughbred, American Pharoah, won the Triple Crown since the last Triple Crown victory in 1978. If you have ever had the chance of watching a horse race, then you have been a witness to the intensity that builds up all throughout a day at the races. Although the highest point of excitement is without a doubt observing the line of horses across the starting gate waiting to break, there is a lot that takes place prior to this pivotal moment.
Before ever being loaded into the gates, each horse is paraded in the Paddock. This is the green area where they are saddled and then walked around a ring where they can be observed to determine their alertness, relaxation, and looseness all in anticipation of the big run.
Even the best trained horse can have an off day but preparation minimizes the chances of this happening. A well trained horse is conditioned to perform at its best no matter what the state of the track is; good, wet, muddy, or sloppy. However, this doesn’t happen overnight. Countless hours of practice are put in both by the horse and the trainer in order to bring the horse to a state of readiness for such a competition.
Since these thoroughbreds are all young horses, they are all green to the ins and outs of the racing world. They must practice performing with the weight of the saddle, tightening of the girth, the feel of a bit in their mouth and after they master this, they must learn how to handle themselves with the weight of the jockey on their back.
The race itself brings just as many challenges as does the preparation. In order to successfully deal with these challenges, often times the horse is trained for the race with blinkers which keep him from being spooked and distracted by his surroundings. The noise from the spectators, the pounding of the hooves, and virtually anything else can keep the horse from performing at its best and so every detail is taken into consideration to allow for the horses optimal level of success.
It is amazing to me how similar our lives are to a race horses! Can you see the correlation? We too are being prepared for a race but before ever being deemed ready to be positioned at the starting gate we must be broken in.
- As the popular saying goes, we must first Saddle Up. Prepare for the ride by accepting our assignment and stepping out. He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace…2 Timothy 1:9
- Tighten our Girth . Ephesians 6:14 says it this way, Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth. Being firmly established in the truth of God’s Word and wrapping it around us promises us the race.
- Placing the bit in our mouth. The bit in the horse’s mouth is how the jockey communicates with the horse and calls him to obedience. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. James 3:3 Likewise, we should liken our words to Christ’s so that we too would remain in obedience.
- Handle ourselves with the weight of the rider. Our walk is not our own and our victories are not solely ours. They are for the benefit of the body. We must learn how to carry others through the race until they are ready to ride on their own. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
- Blinkers-On. Philippians 4:13 says, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. The race in order to reach the prize is non-negotiable. At all cost, distractions must be avoided. We must put on our spiritual blinders and keep from looking to the left or the right. This is the only way to reach the prize.
And lastly, to be reminded of our ability to win the race, we must keep one thing close to our heart at all times… we too are Thoroughbreds.
…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4
Have you claimed your breed yet?
Photo Credit: Pete Markham