I have thought long and hard about writing a blog like this. How do I write about being criticized without sounding above someone? How do I write about my fear of rejection without sounding bitter? And how do I write about my own personal insecurities without making others feel bad for taking a stand for their own beliefs? I don’t know. But I will try.
This blog started as a way for me to write creatively while I pursued my doctorate in a science field. I never knew that I was a good writer until it took off and other media sources asked to publish it. To see my words in magazines that I have purchased since I was a little girl – like Horse Illustrated and Chronicle of the Horse, has been surreal. To read the supportive comments on websites like The Paulick Report, a news source that I read diligently as a member of the thoroughbred industry, has been so affirming. And yet, underneath all of my posts, there will be at least one rude comment. One naysayer. One Negative Nancy.
Last week I was told that someone thought that my blog was anti-racing, and that it was offensive for me to track down the horses that I assisted in breeding and raising and encourage their retirement. I was told that because I pushed for second careers that I didn’t respect their first. And I broke down. In front of both close friends and my boyfriend. I questioned my integrity, I questioned my path, and mostly, I questioned my writing.
My boyfriend reasoned with me in the most simplistic way. He told me that if I was going to put myself out there, and let others be a part of my life and this world, then I would have to develop thicker skin. He has told me numerous times now that he doesn’t understand how I can expose myself so intensely. I have reasoned with him that as long as it is something that I stand by 100%, as long as I know that I can back it up with science, or citations, or experience, I am willing to stick my neck out. To take the hits. To be the poster child. He responds by telling me that he supports that, but that I then need to stop reading the comments, or responding to the negative. To be stronger and more secure.
But I’m not there yet. I am still insecure and weak. I have moments where I think that I am doing so well with this blog. This thing that has spread farther than I ever thought it would. This platform that I have created unintentionally. I never wanted to be the voice of the off-track thoroughbred, or the insider to the thoroughbred breeding industry. I just wanted to write. To tell my stories. The same way I would over a beer with friends.
There are days where I pause my pointer over the delete button on this blog. Where I don’t understand why I willingly stick my neck out, ready for the guillotine. Why I answer the phone calls of the bitter old men, who only wish to tell me how naive I am. Why I click on the comments telling me that I am wrong.
Cyber bullying is real. And there seems to be some statistical correlation between extreme cyber bullying and horse people. I have now watched it happen to the youth of our industry, as well as the adults. And I see so many telling the teenagers that it will get better, that this is just a phase. But it’s not. The negativity will always be there. The comments will always come. And the more publicly you live, the more exposed you are, whether it be by fame or fortune, promotions or pictures, the more negativity you will encounter.
So how do you counter that? I wish I had an easy fix. I am 30 years old and still feeling insecure in my own place. I still contemplate throwing it all away, and wanting to crawl back into my unknown hole. I yearn for the days when I would show up to a horse show and happily sit in my lawn chair, drink a beer, and stare at my pony in blissful ignorance and peace.
But every time that I pause over that delete button, I stop. Why? Maybe, just maybe, because I am stronger than even I give myself credit for. Because I don’t know of many others who are willing to stick their neck out for the things that they believe so passionately about. And I take a moment to reflect and recognize the small amounts of good I have done. That person who told me that they had believe what Last Chance Corral wrote about nurse mares until they read my blog. Or the person who said that they didn’t know that the thoroughbred farms actually claimed their homebred back. Or even the person who said they signed up as a bone marrow donor because of my blog.
Those three people, to me, offset the woman who thinks I am anti-racing. Or the blogger who says that I am lacking real understanding of what I write. Or the man who hunted down my phone number just to tell me that a national governing body in racing would kill us.
So I guess I’ll keep writing. I’ll try to develop thicker skin. I’ll keep sticking my neck out. And I’ll try to use the negativity to make me a better blogger. If you think I’m anti-racing, I obviously didn’t write clearly or concisely enough. If you think I don’t understand how to retrain an ex-racehorse, I will spell it out more simply. And if you think that I don’t promote the thoroughbreds first career, I will make it more obvious.
But mostly, I will keep on doing what I’m doing. Because I believe in it. I love doing it – the actual writing aspect. And it seems like few else are willing to. I will keep on trucking along, one post at a time. This blog was started for the most simplistic reason – a love of writing. And it carried on into something much bigger than I could have ever dreamed. If at the core it remains the original goal of allowing me to utilize the passion of pen, that will be enough. If in addition to that it brings awareness to two platforms that I would take a bullet for – horse racing and cancer, then it was worth the insecurity.
I will continue to write. I will also continue to thank the thousands of you who read this blog, day in and day out, and support me with encouragement and kind comments. The ones who share it and support it, getting the message spread even farther.
It means more than you know.
One blogger to another–there will always be people who completely miss your point, don’t understand what you’re saying, and read ignorance or cruelty into whatever it is you do, no matter how well you write, how simply you spell it out, or how obviously they’re simply translating their own personal biases into something you never even said. Keep on writing and living and riding and breathing. You can’t please everyone and if you aren’t making someone a little mad occasionally, you’re probably not doing it right anyways.
I’m a huge fan of your blog and all the work that you do — please keep writing!! Your energy and passion for horses and racing has inspired me to get back into the horse world, which I’ve let myself passively slip out of since becoming an undergraduate student. Thank you so much for having the courage to write about your struggles and successes, and for always firmly stating what you believe in. It’s true that not everyone is tough enough for that, and I admire you for it, just like I’m sure so many other people that read your blog do!
You have helped give ME the courage to go back to the animals that I love. I have recently acquired a job on a ranch out in Colorado for the summer, and have decided that when I get back to school in the fall, I’ll tryout for our hunt seat equestrian team. After college, who knows! Retraining horses had always been fun for me, but I’ve never been able to work with a retired thoroughbred that hasn’t already spent several years off the track. It seems like the ultimate challenge, and you take it so well in stride! It seems like such a rewarding endeavor, and ensuring I have the correct training after undergrad (and some money…), I’d like to look into it myself.
So see, you inspire people like me with your hard work and your spirit. You reminded me that there is a life I love out there that I was missing out on. Because I’ve been so busy with school, horse life has drifted toward the back of my mind in the last couple years like a lost childhood dream. All I had to do was put myself out there again, and I did! And you played a part in this rediscovery of mine So, sincerely, thank you for this. I will always be grateful. Don’t let those naysayers get to you! There just might be some more lost young women and men out there that need that last push to embrace again this joyous and fulfilling existence. Keep it up!
Carleigh, my opinion doesn’t matter. I’m nobody in the horse world, but I wanted you to know that I love your blog and I think you are doing a wonderful job. I’ve learned a lot about racing, ect. just from reading your blog. There will always be haters. I’m dealing with one right now…that I don’t even know and she doesn’t even know me, but she’s trashing me right and left. I say a prayer and try to move on. Keep your chin up and keep writing! AND FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! 🙂
Sweet Carleigh the Internet is cruel as toxic comments can be hurled easily without consequences. Everyone has opinions deflect the negative and bask in the positive. Forge on undaunted, your talent and passion for horses and writing intertwine giving us an amazing opportunity to see the trials and tribulations of the life cycle of race horses. You go girl… kick the naysayers to the curb, you have earned your place in the winners circle!!
Please keep writing!!! I came upon your blog via Horse Collaborative and I absolutely love it. I look forward to it and your supporters do too. I suppose the other stuff comes with the territory which is unfortunate. You are young, bright and beautiful and you enjoy what you do. Stay positive. Thank you for your blog and love the photos.
I just stumbled on your blog recently and enjoy it very much. I am a life long fan of TB racing but a serious one for about 10 yrs. The increase in after care of race horses is so much more visible and active now. You add to that in a very credible way. There are always trolls who hate racing, period. Others just like to stir up things and make other people feel stupid or intimidated. Others believe that anything other than horses eating in a pasture is cruel. There are times where I stopped reading the comment sections after articles on the Paulick Report as well as the Bloodhorse. I did not read them for months. I often think people affiliated with the industry eat their own. These people NEVER have a good thing to say. So I understand your pain. Just keep on what you are doing. Don’t delete yourself. If someone responds in a rude or personal attack after you have addressed some issue, DELETE them.
Please continue on and push forward through the negativity. You cannot educate the unwilling and you cannot save people from their own stupidity. I enjoy your quips and insight into this industry and life as a whole. You have control of your life and your thoughts and to let anyone take that away from you would be like losing a part of yourself. So I say carry on and keep writing!
I was put down and made fun of for my dreams. Don’t give in and have regrets at sixty. Belive in your path and your vision. I wish I’d had your courage and sense of purpose at thirty.
Please keep writing…
You are brave and strong and are making a positive contribution with your writing. Those who criticize or bully or threaten are dealing with their own issues in an unproductive way. Don’t make their insecurities yours. Keep on writing and sharing what you know and love!!
Carry On Carleigh, Carry On It always makes my day when I see your new post in my e-mail. I know it will be a good and thoughtful read.
I only recently found your blog and would be so sad if you disappeared. Keep strong, you do have an awesome community that will rally around you.
i’m another new reader here but have been avidly soaking up your posts – new and old. you have an incredible voice and perspective in the horse community, and a true talent for writing. keep doing what you’re doing and try not to let the negativity drag you down!
Keep writing! I read all of your posts. I appreciate your honesty and sensitivity. You speak from the heart but you’ve been there and done it – lived both the dreams and the nightmares that inspire and sabotage these wonderful horses. Your political stance is simply “pro-Thoroughbred” and I have great respect for that.
I am also a newer reader, but everything you have written I have soaked up and enjoyed. It is not always easy to share, and even I hesitate to publish certain things and I am not nearly as influential. There is always someone, fortunately, there are always many more to support and understand.
Keep up the great work – and an aside – love your Ariat boots in the bottom pic – I have them too! Can’t believe they discontinued them – so comfortable!
Please keep writing! I believe (and I hope!) there are more of us who look forward to what you have to say than naysayers. I am first and foremost a horse lover, but I have been a racing fan since 1981. Your blog is one of the best horse/racing blogs I have found. Believe in yourself and what you are doing.
Keep writing! And keep asking for the horse’s retirement. I think after a race track career like that, horses need a chance to just be horses. I mean, what would these people rather you do, let them be ship off the meathouse? I like what you’re doing and I like that you can put into words about your experiences with horses much better than I ever could.
Your blog is one of my must-reads whenever you have written a new post and I’m grateful for your sharing your stories with us. It is easy enough for us to sit here and encourage you to grow a thicker skin, but we are all looking for approval and validation. Your words always touch my heart in one way or another, so I sincerely hope you will continue writing. Thank you!
Keep on keeping on. And the hell with the naysayers! We’ve got your back. 😊
Yes, you keep writing. So hard, how the negative can take over. A thicker skin, I don’t know. …… you are a caring woman, a thicker skin could help you feel less, yes, but is that what you want? Develop a better 2nd sense, of which comments are useless negativity, and don’t read them. Negative can be useful, but stupidly negative has no place, esp in the horse world. You are doing good! You bring caring, and little bits of knowledge that fill in my gaps of understanding the race world (been retraining OTTBs a long time). And your boyfriend sounds like a wise man.
I am new to your writing and really enjoy it. I hope that those of us who are positive outweigh the bad ones.
Thank you guys all SO much. You have no idea how much these comments motivated me to continue on. I hope that I can continue to entertain and educate you, and I hope that you continue to read!
I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog. It’s well written and informative and honest. Nadia Bolz Weber a pastoral Christian blogger was advised by her spiritual directors not to read the comments, so maybe that’s something to do. I wonder if there’s a way you can step back like a teacher and let people have their say, like you might if you were teaching a beloved text you wanted your students to think about. At any rate I very much enjoy your work. And good for you for reaching a wide audience.
Just wanted to chime in and say, “Holy crap you’re fantastic. I’m glad your voice is out here.”
That’s all. Keep on keeping…
Your blog is beautiful. Not only do you cover really great topics, your writing is top notch. Keep your head up, because yes, haters gonna hate, but all the rest of us love you. Don’t give your energy to the naysayers because you inspire everyone else.