Making It to the Makeover: The Battle

Yesterday, I pulled up to the barn and waited for my student like usual. I expected to see her walk in the from the field excited for her first lesson back and ready to jump. Instead, I saw a hanging head, tears in her eyes, her mud-covered horse dragging along at the end of the lead rope and I heard the words that have crossed every rider’s mind a dozen times…

“I’m done. I don’t want to ride. I don’t want a horse anymore.”

My heart sank for her as she fought through tears and tried to explain that horses are a lot of work and it just wasn’t fun anymore. And I knew exactly where she was coming from. How many times have I battled between my passion and the work that has to be put in to pursue that passion?

A lot. The answer is a lot. No one tells you as a little girl how many sleepless nights you’ll have wondering when an abscess will drain, how many tears you’ll cry when your horse doesn’t feel like being caught, and how many times your heart will break when you felt like you gave it your all and it still wasn’t good enough. Or maybe they did tell me, I just wasn’t listening … In any case, it’s scary, it’s hard and it doesn’t get any easier.

Run! She’ll never catch us! Photo by Lindsay Gilbert.

Run! She’ll never catch us! Photo by Lindsay Gilbert.

What are you doing on the ground? Photo by Lindsay Gilbert.

What are you doing on the ground? Photo by Lindsay Gilbert.

I felt that same feeling when I opened my email and saw the subject line that read: Your Thoroughbred Makeover Application Has Been Accepted. I was ecstatic, elated, excited (and I’m sure a bunch of other e-words I can’t think of right now) but at the same time, my heart sank. I knew this journey would not be an easy one. It would mean more late nights, tears and anxiety wondering if my training methods would hold up against the time crunch, wondering if I had chosen the right horse, wondering if I would make a fool out of myself when it came to packing up and heading to the Kentucky Horse Park.

But, just like my student promised to give it her best shot and leave the negative thoughts on the ground, I, too, will do the same. And the feeling she felt after nailing her three-stride line on a horse that had just weeks before left her with stitches in her lip, the same feeling I had when she dismounted, hugged her horse and thanked me for the best lesson, that’s the feeling that keeps us all going, that promises things will get better (but only after they get worse) and that convinces us to pursue a crazy dream that we never know if we can accomplish until we get there.

Lindsay is the owner of Transitions Sport Horses, based in Lexington, Kentucky. She participated in the 2016 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover on Rebel Annie and is back again in 2017 with Hot Java. Keep up with their journey here on EN and via her blog, Making It to the Thoroughbred Makeover!

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