The Christian Equestrian’s Path to Authenticity

By Rebekah L. Holt


“He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness.” Micah 7: 9


down the road 300 x 400    Today our four legged friend, the horse, has become a form of entertainment, recreation and therapy generating a 112 billion dollar industry in America .1   With all this popularity and enterprise, it’s not surprising to find media sources, training techniques, and instruction for equestrians absorbed in a hodge-podge of philosophies with many proposing a threat to authentic Christianity.


    Romans 1:22-23 tells us that a spiritual imbalance and tendency toward idolatry can be expected on earth, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.”


    Though it may be touted that our era is an “enlightened age”, the Bible tells us that those who embrace in doctrines contrary to scripture are living in darkness and are devoid of the only source of Light –the Triune God of Christianity. “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).


    The Lord further directs Christians to disassociate ourselves from and reprove the works of darkness2 bringing every thought into harmony in obedience with Christ.


"Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).


Some Trust in Chariots and Some in Horses


    In efforts to advance my equestrian skills and certifications as a therapeutic riding instructor, I have been actively studying. The more I read and peruse the “suggested reading” lists, the more I discover how accepted and integrated various forms of idolatrous religious practices are in our entire American culture.   What is more shocking is that many professed Christians are not disassociating themselves from these rituals and false doctrines. Many instead are endeavoring to “repackage” pagan philosophies and practices in a neutral or “Christian” framework in order to participate with a lulled conscience.


    With such an increasing surge of information and selection of instruction, we just have to open an equine magazine to reveal the popularity of “equestrian paganism”. Some trainers and clinicians travel our continent teaching horsemanship principles based in Eastern religions. Select horse retreats and weekend clinics offer participants the arts of Qigong, T’ai Chi, Shamanism, Yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, etc. Best selling book releases provide Hindu “paths to spirituality” for riders to “mentally, physically and spiritually” achieve a “greater harmony” with their horse and themselves. Emphatically, Darwinian evolution—a blind religious faith masquerading as “science”—what Scripture calls “science falsely so-called”—strong-arms nearly all forms of media for equine origins, life and future. With the rise of using horses as a therapy module, many unchristian mental and spiritual “health” mantras permeate equestrian therapy centers. Horse expos across America are featuring Animal Communicators and Reiki Masters as special guests and clinicians to “help solve” horse problems.


    Unfortunately, in our society, it is often considered fashionable and even “intellectual” to dabble in spiritualism. As Christians, if we are going to be Christ followers, we have a Biblical standard to guide us and live by. The commandment that Christ gave us puts us to the real challenge, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).


    Do we love the Lord enough to allow Him full rein in our lives? What are we holding back from truly worshipping Him in spirit and in truth? 3


Go To The Roots


    What could be termed “equestrian paganism” is a melting pot of ideas, beliefs—a sort of “roll your own religion.” Whatever goes! Just add this, throw out that and be happy, healthy, peppy, horsy people. In reality, believing in false ideals just doesn’t work for the long haul. Ultimately, this all started back in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. There the devil denied the truth of God’s word, created doubt in Eve’s mind and ultimately deceived her into the act of disobeying the Lord. The same tactics the devil uses today in so many different packages and many are beautifully labeled as the key to effective horsemanship.


    It helps to scratch more than the surface and get to the foundation of where these beliefs come from. In this article, I’m specifically addressing New Age/Eastern Religion worldviews which seem the most prevalent threat for equestrians.    


    Hinduism, Shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism and the New Age outlooks are all essentially a form of pantheism. Pantheism believes that “literally all is God”. This worldview teaches that God is impersonal though infinite. Pantheists believe that all is an illusion that we can overcome if we will just find ourselves. To boil it down, this worldview teaches that our limitations are illusions of the mind and that if we can overcome ourselves, master our energy and our minds, we can achieve fulfillment and nothing can stop our success.4“Worship your own inner self. God lives within you as you.”5


    This is so contrary to what the Bible teaches and what is truth.


    The bedrock of Christianity is ultimately a belief in a personal, all powerful Triune God6 (i.e. God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit) and a professed confession of Jesus Christ as a personal Lord and Savior.7  


    As dedicated Christians, first we should believe what God reveals about Himself in Scriptures. Our Christian worldview must not be based on seeking to “fit” the Lord into our imaginations, our preferences, our concepts of what we “think” He is.   Christians should believe that God is as Christ said, the Author of what is good8, our Standard of Righteousness.9  The Bible, God’s written word, is to be reverenced as the literal, inspired Holy Script available to guide our lives10—if we will but study it and pray that the Lord will give us understanding how to apply It!11 The Bible teaches us to recognize our limitations as mortal humans,12 to confess our sins13 and seek to become a new creation in the image of Jesus Christ.14 Instead of seeking to master our minds in our own strength, the Bible instructs Christians to cast our cares on the Wonderful Counselor15 and to seek the Lord for Wisdom.16 Contrary to worshipping self and a building a “self-image”—Jesus Christ teaches us to forget ourselves17, to be meek and lowly18, to esteem other Christians as better than ourselves and to think of others’ benefit19 that our lives may be enriched and fulfilled by serving others in His name.20 Instead of viewing our real sufferings as “illusions”, Jesus Christ is pitiful to our sufferings, understands them21 and offers us everlasting hope of one day a world without sin, pain and suffering22.   And instead of trying to achieve self-made success, as Christians we should believe that God has created us in order to serve Him in what He has prepared for us to accomplish in this life.23 


    Christianity is not about “ourselves”. It is about in serving others and, even more so, loving the Lord Who made us.   The mantra of the world teaches, “Invest in yourself and you’ll find happiness“, a philosophy that leads its followers into fleeting, hollow individual gratification. The Bible teaches us that if we will forget ourselves and serve others in the Name of Jesus—we will be like a watered garden—full of beauty, productivity, abundance and joy.24