Lindsey’s Road to the Thoroughbred Makeover: On Patience

For 673 accepted trainers, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project‘s 2019 RPP Thoroughbred Makeover is underway! Between the beginning of the year and the Makeover, to take place Oct. 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park, four of those trainers have been blogging 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 BurnsHillary McMichaelClare MansmannJennifer Reisenbichler.

Patience and passion are the two things that bring our dreams to fruition. The space between those two words is filled with the entire spectrum of human experience. Back-breakingly hard work, unimagined sorrow, and also the flights of joy. Somewhere along the way we get attacked by our own self doubts and self judgments, often that’s where the journey to dreams gets derailed. We humans are masters of convincing ourselves that we can’t do something. We stand up to outside influences, we prove doubters wrong, we accomplish seemingly impossible tasks just because someone says we can’t. Then we go home, and sit down, and that naysaying voice inside our head starts trying to prove why we are nothing, why we don’t deserve the success we have found. I’m sure this doesn’t apply to everyone who reads this, maybe your inner voice has pompoms and cheers for every moment of your day, don’t take that for granted if you do. 

The doubt in myself had reached dangerously high levels during the year of my first Makeover (2016). Luckily for me I had been accepted as a trainer and had that glittering goal to work towards. It was a rope that pulled me through the muck and mire of life. The connections I made infused my psyche with new strength. The inspiration I gained while walking around the Kentucky Horse Park for the first time has stayed with me to this day. On paper my performance was lackluster, but that first Makeover fanned the tiny flame that had been biding its time deep within me. 

It led me to give an official name to my business of selling horses off the track. Instead of just randomly posting a thoroughbred that a race trainer friend was selling, I created a page on Facebook and Instagram, I encouraged people to share my name with other race trainers wanting to sell a horse. The number of horses that I have connected with their second career has more than doubled in each year since then. I look forward to continuing to fuel this growth and I truly enjoy the happy messages and photos I receive from people who found their OTTBs through me.

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*sold* Located in Ball Ground, Georgia. Looking for a dressage partner to have fun with? Slider is a 2011, 16hh, bay, thoroughbred, gelding. He has three swoon worthy gaits, is easy and pleasant to ride, easy to care for, and loves interacting with people. Slider has an incredible work ethic and is safe and fun at shows. When you're not schooling dressage together you can ride him walk trot canter in a halter and ride him out in the open and on trails. Solid First level and won't take much to prepare for Second. Just a great horse to be around, selling to make room for the next project. Currently only has shoes on the front, up to date on shots, current coggins. He's a graduate of the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover and spent the last 2.5 years making a teenager's riding dreams come true, she's off to college so count yourself lucky to have the opportunity to fall in love with Slider. $10,000.00

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Two years ago the first Ira Schulman award was given, to Ira himself. I met him one time at Turf Paradise when he was shopping for horses, it was a fleeting hello, I wish I could have chatted over coffee and learned from his years of experience. He was an inspiration to all of us who work hard to make those connections for horses between the track and the rest of the world. His award is for people who make it their job to sell thoroughbreds into their future careers. There are many great nonprofits out there that also advertise/place/sell OTTBs, but this is an award for passionate entrepreneurs. I thought that it would be amazing to win that award someday, but brushed off the idea thinking I was small potatoes.

I guess I’ve been doing this for a while now.

I studied other successful sellers who I respected and tried to emulate their ads. I paid attention to what seemed to work and not work in my own ads. I got pickier about the jog videos so that my shoppers could expect certain things when scrolling through my listings. The trainers I work with most often learned to anticipate what my expectations were: clean horse, pictures first and then video, honesty about injuries. I do my best to pass as much info as possible on to potential buyers before they even come to the track to shop so that they aren’t wasting their time looking at inappropriate horses for their goals. In this day and age time can be worth more than money, so I also try to respect the race trainers’ time by only bringing serious buyers.

I’ve helped others navigate the journey of selling a horse and I get asked for advice with new OTTBs about everything from feeding, to shipping long distances, to training. I’ve enjoyed educating people as much as I’ve enjoyed selling the horses. Anything that throws dirt in the chasm between the racetrack and the rest of the equestrian world pumps me up! As humans our harshest judgments usually spring from a lack of understanding. If only it was common knowledge that both racetrackers and other equestrians stuff peppermints in the faces of horses they have sold as they get loaded on the trailer, trying hard to hold back tears. We’re all humans suffering from that lifelong equine addiction. I believe that my efforts to bring these two horse worlds closer is just another way to spread love.

A long time OTTB lover, a brand new OTTB lover, and me. Smiles like this are the reason I do what I do.

So here I’ve been passionately promoting and helping OTTBs. Patiently honing my sales skills and trying to stay humble enough to keep learning. I’ve sold horses and made friends across the country. There aren’t many weekends that go by that I can’t find a Double Shot Horses alumni to cheer on at a show. I have such gratitude for the connections and happy stories I’ve had a hand in creating. This year when nominations for the Ira Schulman award closed I wondered who the finalists would be, there are so many great people out there promoting Thoroughbreds. Then one afternoon I received an email informing me that I was a finalist. Me?!  A smile attached itself to my face and wouldn’t go away, my hands even shook. This was a dream come true. Regardless of who ultimately gets the award I am thrilled. Knowing that people believed enough in what I do to take the time to write a nomination felt like the biggest hug you can imagine.

I am beyond thankful to have been a finalist this year. It has brought more dreams to the surface, caused more ideas to bubble up. That big hug I felt from my supporters isn’t the type that is followed by sitting down and relaxing. That big hug was followed by a slap on the back and well wishes. There are more teaching opportunities, more horses to photograph and write ads for, more new OTTBs to be ridden, and many more dreams to be chased.