For 673 accepted trainers, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project‘s 2019 RPP Thoroughbred Makeover has begun! Over the next eight months, four of those trainers will blog their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers. Read more from EN’s 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Bloggers: Lindsey Burns, Hillary McMichael, Clare Mansmann, Jennifer Reisenbichler.
Life with horses seems to sway between intensely good and intensely bad. When it rains it pours. If you want to find success it’s how you navigate these highs and lows that often determines the outcome. When life is beating you up you’ve got to find strength in the difficulty — knock me down 100 times and I’ll get up 101. Also, just as important, when life is telling you that you are freaking fantastic don’t forget the art of humility.
So far my 2019 has been less than dreamy. My OTTB Bear, that I had bronze medal dreams with, dropped dead of an apparent heart attack or aneurysm.
My magical unicorn partner from the 2018 makeover, Shefightslikeagirl, has been on the hormonal/ulcer struggle bus to the point of being unrideable. Charlie, the best dog in the world, went from healthy to buried in 24 hours. All of this before the calendar rolled over to the month of April.
I’ve cried until my eyes felt like they were burning right out of their sockets. I’ve also kept getting out of bed when that 4:30 a.m. alarm goes off, I’ve kept looking for reasons to get excited about life, and forced myself to keep choosing to laugh and smile and be thankful for the blessings that surround me even in the midst of pain. When that darkness threatens to engulf me I take control of my thoughts as fast as I can, jumping into a favorite book or soundtrack or into the always comforting process of grooming or tack cleaning. Once my chest quits hurting and that space behind my eyes quits threatening to implode, I start to imagine what I want the future to look like.
I’m a big believer of thinking and dreaming things into existence. The idea that if you want something bad enough, and work your ass off hard enough, it will all work out. Working out doesn’t mean that exactly what you dreamt up happens — working out more means that through the process of working your ass off and believing in great things you will be prepared to seize opportunity. I’d been dreaming of participating in ‘that RRP thing’ since they did the Trainer Challenge in 2012, when the opportunity was made available to me in 2016 I was ready.
You might be wondering where I am going with this. Well, in the midst of all the angst that this year has brought, I haven’t given up. Yes, I’ve had a few scattered hours of existential crisis, but thankfully family and friends have helped support me through those moments. I haven’t thrown in the towel. Great things come to those who keep trying no matter what, which unsurprisingly sounds like the definition of insanity.
If you look at the people who find wild success I think you will always find an undercurrent of insanity. To someone without drive or passion, trying over and over again can look insane. There are few key differences between being lauded as successful or condemned as insane. When given the task of getting to the other side of a wall the person who finds success might try again and again, they will try to climb it, crawl under it, go around it, look for a door to go through it, etc. The insanity route would be to try again and again, to keep trying to crawl up it without ever looking for a ladder.
No matter how much I was hurting I knew I would keep preparing myself for a future that would look better and brighter. Instead of laying on the couch and wishing for change, I kept working in a manner that would allow for that change to come into my life. Instead of being upset about Hope’s laziness I chose to let the giggles while riding her sans saddle be balm to my stinging soul. Instead of lamenting the end of my dressage dreams with the death of Bear I kept faith that a new path would make itself visible and I was able to jump on the opportunity to start riding and eventually showing an upper level warmblood in this coming summer.
When I took on the responsibility of transitioning Albert from racing to something new, I knew that he might not be the perfect Makeover horse — maybe he will need longer than the months between now and October to relax and find his new groove. I’m OK with that, I’m committed to helping him find his best life, whatever that may be. Maybe he will be a phenom and take the makeover by storm or maybe he will want something more low key.
So here I am turning away from that sucking darkness, keeping my eyes on the future I dream of and my heart and hands open to grasp the opportunities that arrive. Here enters Crash, a sweet and stunning gelding out of a New Zealand bred Thoroughbred mare and by an incredible sport Thoroughbred sire Tizbud.
Our barn neighbors from last year decided they didn’t want to try running him anymore after a few lackluster performances. In a move that left me slack jawed they handed him to me along with his papers. Keep him or sell him, they knew I’d find him a great life. Talk about working daily to create that dreamed of future, my prepare for opportunity motto came to fruition again on this day.