You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5 (NIV)
Whenever I ride, someone always asks me about my saddle. Most people are accustomed to seeing English or Western saddles, but few people have seen an Australian one. I started out riding in an English saddle because my lessons were in that discipline and Trucker was originally trained to use one. After my fall, the English saddle, with nothing to hold onto and no stability, contributed to my anxiety. Every time I settled down into it, I remembered the sensation of going right over my horse’s head, my hands reaching for something to grasp. My fear and lack of balance forced me to turn to a Western saddle. While the larger seat and horn to grab helped me feel secure, Trucker found its weight and size uncomfortable. It was also awkward, and I had trouble lifting it up onto his back. Bethany suggested that I try an Australian saddle. They are made like an English saddle, but with a horn. These saddles are lightweight and easy to carry. They also have something called poleys which look like large ears near the front of the saddle. Poleys hold the rider into the seat of the saddle. While designed for riding on steep inclines, they are another measure of security even in Florida’s flatlands. After some research, I found a company that would custom fit an Australian saddle to my horse’s width and back. Glen purchased it for me for Christmas, and I have been happily riding in it since. Trucker and I both love the comfort, and I especially like the protected feeling it gives me. Australian saddles can come with or without a horn. I briefly considered purchasing one without a horn, but quickly came to my senses. While some experienced riders might scoff and call me a “greenhorn”, I just like knowing it is there when I need it. With my poleys to keep me in the saddle and my horn to hold onto when I am unnerved, I feel much more stable. If Trucker starts because a possum makes rustling noises in the bushes or if he jumps back because I ask him to move forward across some water, I can grab my horn for balance. Then, I always say, “Thank you, God for my horn!” Today on the fifth anniversary of September 11, most everyone that I have come in contact has been as unsettled as Trucker and I are when a bird flies squawking out of the brush alongside the trail. Anxious, sad, apprehensive, afraid and restless are all words that they have used to describe themselves. My calling is to remind them, and myself when I start to feel afraid, that just like my poleys and horn keep me hemmed in my saddle, God will also keep us safe and secure no matter what happens in our world. What about you? What are you holding onto today? There is no peace without God. Rest in the comfort that His Hand is upon you.