the next dance || a guest post by Ashlyn (of A Girl and Two Brave Horses)

SO blessed and stoked to have one of my best friends guest-posting for you guys today! Ashlyn is a brilliant writer and blogger. Her writing style, and the way she captures her love for God so eloquently in her words is absolutely beautiful. And she is also just freakin awesome. So be sure to go check out her blog, A Girl and Two Brave Horses, follow and show her some love!


George Morris once said, “Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art.”

Working with horses doesn't come across as very artsy and creative at first. The days are filled with dust and hay and sweat. Glamor is the furthest thing from my mind when I'm up to my knees in manure or patching up a wounded leg. It doesn't feel like art at all.

Paint brushes are exchanged for saddles, musical instruments set aside in favor of boots, a sandy arena taking the place of the canvas. My hands don't touch clay; this sculpture is a living, breathing creature. A being with its own set of emotions and preferences; something that doesn't need my help to be breathtaking.

Horses are funny creatures. I mean, sometimes they're downright idiotic, but they manage to look completely majestic while they're at it. Go watch a field of horses on a chilly winter morning and tell me you're not both entertained and awestruck as they careen around in ways that defy physics. It's incredible.

I have always loved horses. Come summer, I'll be twenty-one and that love has never diminished; it's only grown. The more time I spend with them, the more I appreciate the finer parts of how horses operate. I want to know what makes them tick, how they move, what hinders them, and how I can help.

Horses are sort of like clocks; one gear out of line and the whole thing can fall apart. But when everything is aligned, working together as it should, that broken down timepiece becomes a work of art. It's fascinating and exciting and I...

I want to be a clockmaker.

My tool of choice is dressage.

Dressage finds its roots in fourth century BC with a man named Xenophon. Throughout the centuries, it has been regarded as the highest form of riding, though nowadays the non-competitive parts are becoming somewhat of a lost art.

Dressage, in it's original intent, is the systematic development of a horse in a way that encourages and improves obedience, flexibility, and balance. Some have compared it to ballet. Others to gymnastics. I prefer explaining it as a combination of yoga and bodybuilding. The purpose of dressage is to teach a horse to carry a rider in a way that preserves their health and longevity.

Horses naturally carry two-thirds of their weight on their front legs. While out in the pasture, this isn't really that big of a deal. But when you add the weight of a rider, it can cause discomfort and injury to the horse. Through the use of dressage, a horse is taught to shift its center of balance to carry the weight equally over all four legs. In advanced stages, a horse learns to shift its balance to the point of carrying the majority of the weight on its hind legs. This is referred to as collection.

This is a lengthy process. In all honesty, it's a lifelong pursuit where there is always room for improvement. Over time, the horse becomes equally flexible and strong on both sides of its body and develops carrying power in its hind legs. Every day is time spent asking the horse to grow more comfortable in its own potential, keeping a watchful eye on their well being, preventing boredom, encouraging both yourself and the horse to meet the edge of possibility and defy it physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. To many, this may not seem comparable to more sophisticated arts such as those pursued by the likes of Mozart and Van Gogh.

I invite you to watch the likes of Philippe Karl, Marijke De Jong, Anja Beran, or Uta Grรคf and see if you can observe the silent communication going on between horse and rider. Do you see any of the signals being given? Rest assured, they are there. But to even the most watchful observer, the horse seems to be doing it all of his own accord. There is peace and joy on the face of each; a sense of ease surrounds them. When you realize that it is all held together by the alignment of two souls with a common dance for the sheer pleasure of is nothing short of a masterpiece.

It's not unlike the harmony we pursue with God.

Like the horse, obedience may not come easy at first. We're used to doing things our own way, for what we consider to be our own benefit. But God, the Creator of all things, knows better. Our innermost thoughts are no secret to Him and neither are our needs. Indeed, He knows best how to carry our weight.

This pursuit of Love, this pursuit of Him-

It is lifelong as well.

We learn to stretch and bend and our muscles may get sore. We may whine and kick our feet, asking why it all has to be so hard.

But can I let you in on a secret?

Rebalancing...becoming supple...trusting's all worth it.

Make no mistake. I am no master. It takes much concerted effort on my part to lay down my control freak nature each morning. Despite all that He has brought me through, often I find myself doing things in my own strength anyway. My approach to life falls on the defense. If I'm constantly geared up, if there are no chinks in my armor, then I can survive.

Is that really what life is all about? Survival?

God is an artist. He is the supreme Creator, He is a painter, a poet, a sculptor, a dancer. When we let Him take the lead, it opens the door to greater beauty than we could ever think possible. It's just about learning to see it. Seeing the diamond where others see coal. The Mona Lisa where there seems to be a blank canvas. The sculpture within the lump of clay.

I long to reach the epitome of harmony with my horses. A melding of our intentions, a unending cycle of joy, beauty, strength, and peace. An eternal dance to music only we can hear. It's a dream I chase every day; each moment I slide onto my horse's back and whisper, “Let's go,” is another step closer to achieving this.

I believe this is what God longs to reach with us as well.

Sure, we aren't very good at yielding yet. We're youngins', we need the steps taught to us. Sometimes, we need corrections and boundaries. But the more we trust, the more we choose to let Him take over, the closer we come to that sort of harmony that makes people wonder whether any effort is being put forth at all. His intentions become our intentions. His love becomes our love. His joy, our joy. His peace, ours as well.

He's holding out His hand, asking ever so gently for the next dance.

I don't want to sit this one out.


  1. This post was fascinating...your writing is so eloquent and gorgeous, oh my goodness.

  2. WOAH. WOAAAAH. reminded me why i love horses. reminded me why i love Christ. nothing better than that. xx

    1. *squee* Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!


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