Here’s to the Haters

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Gilbert. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Gilbert.

Hey you, yes you … random stranger that is just a little bit too nosy. And you, close friend who rolls your eyes at my dreams that are maybe slightly too big for your imagination. And you, family member who snarkily suggests I actually use my degree. All of you wonderful, well-meaning individuals who really don’t get it. Today, I salute you.

Here’s to those who don’t understand. To those who ask questions like “why are you wasting your time and money, it’s just a horse” or those who share my passion but not my crazy obsession with taking on difficult horses.

You fuel my fire, you are the reason I do what I do. To you, it’s just a horse. To you, it’s a waste of time. To you, my talents are better utilized elsewhere. But I will prove you wrong.

I may not have the fanciest barn or five-figure warmbloods. The nickers coming from my stalls may not be from graded stakes winners or grand prix jumpers, but they are horses bound for greatness nonetheless. You may not see it, but I do.

You may not be able to see past the outer layer, the hard candy coating, to the soft center inside. You may not want to spend the time and energy figuring out the puzzle, putting it together piece by piece until everything fits seamlessly. Instead of broken pieces scattered on the ground, I can see the end result, the beautiful masterpiece that could be if someone cared enough to try. I revel in the little moments, the daily victories that my horses and I share. I know they are destined for greatness in their own way and it’s my job to get them there.

You see a frightened pony that doesn’t trust anyone’s motives. I see a horse that will one day be a little girl’s best friend. You see a gangly Thoroughbred that doesn’t know where to put his feet. I see an upper-level eventer in the making, destined for eating up a cross-country course like it’s second nature. You see a horse that’s hard to understand, one that no one has bothered to figure out just yet. I see my calling.

We may just be walking our lives away, spending our days hacking and trying to stay calm. We may be working through trust issues instead of working on getting that six stride line just right. But, all these days spent doing what you think is nothing will lead up to something great.

And the tears I shed over the difficult horse, the one who rears instead of walks, who can’t seem to relax, who doesn’t quite get it — those tears will be the same ones I cry when we actually finish a cross country course, and the same happy tears that well in my eyes when those difficult horses go on to make someone else the happiest they’ve ever been. That’s what I do, that’s what I live for.

So, thank you, naysayers. Thank you, disbelievers. Thank you for everyone who questioned me or my horses. This ride’s for you. I appreciate your unwillingness to see what I can do and what my horses can be. Because of you, I tack up every day with a fire in my belly and a determination in my soul. My bank account might be empty, I may not be using my fancy degree, and the fences I jump might be comical in size — but my heart is full. And one day, when we make it, I’ll toast every single person who didn’t believe we could.

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!