It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 7 years since my life changed. What started out as a normal day working at the barn, turned into an overnight stay in the ER with a life altering injury. Let me tell you a quick story about that day and what I’ve learned about myself and about passion.
Have you ever gotten a feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know something bad is going to happen? I had that feeling the morning of January 21st, 2011. It was a bitter cold day with whipping winds, but I had horses to take care of! Being as cold as it was, we were short-staffed, so I started bringing in horses in pairs. This particular pair of horses were new to the farm and weren’t quite adjusted to the new surroundings, not to mention they were on edge due to the winds. We reached the crest of the hill and hit the pavement when a huge wind tunnel threw sticks and leaves in our faces. Both horses spooked and tried to run. I managed to wrangle them for a moment until another gust of wind caused one horse to leap off all fours, kick out with her haunches and made contact with my back. I must have flown several feet from that kick because I was nowhere near where I was standing plus my phone laid shattered all over the pavement. Luckily another farm hand turned the corner and saw me laying on the ground and came to my aid, but the only thing I kept yelling was, “Get the horses inside!”. Every bit of me wanted to jump up and chase those horses down, but somewhere inside of me knew I shouldn’t get up.
I laid on that cold pavement for what seemed like hours waiting on the ambulance.
I couldn’t feel any pain, but I also couldn’t feel my legs.
After x-rays upon x-rays, the verdict was delivered. The kick caused my spine to fracture. Luckily there was no nerve damage, but the doctors were cautious and kept me immobilized. Fast forward through months of heavy medication, a year of wearing a custom back cast and intense physical therapy, I thought I was ready to get back on a horse. My doctors pleaded with me to not go near another horse, because if I were to re-injure myself, the result would most likely be paralysis from the waist down.
That first ride was painful. My right leg still wasn’t quite working like it should, but I was in heaven. I had been away from horses for so long and it was not only physical torture, but mentally as well. Over the last 7 years, I’ve learned that when you love something enough, you’ll do anything to keep that in your life. So, to that horse that almost paralyzed me, I want to thank her for making me the person that I am today. I have learned to not take simple things for granted and I appreciate every single ride I have with my horse, whether it’s a good ride or not. I still feel pain, but at the end of the day, I’d rather have that pain than to not have horses in my life.
Basically, it all boils down to passion; and let me tell you, horse people definitely are passionate. They are mucking stalls before the sun comes up and doing night checks well after the sun goes down. Through rain, sleet, hail, and snow, horse people are doing manual labor 365 days a year; I guess we have the mail carriers beat! Despite broken bones, broken down trucks, hay in our shirts and mud covered everything, we keep coming back because we’d rather spend our free time with them then sit inside watching Netflix. So next time you go to ride your horse, I hope you can take a moment to appreciate how lucky we are to have horses in our lives. Happy trails!
Written By: Brittany Stover, Equine Marketing Associate at Weaver Leather