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Unable to Breathe

By
Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise. -- Alice Walker


Everything is so vivid when something goes wrong. I remember every smell, every noise, and every little detail. The cold night air smelled like boiled peanuts and the warm smell of hot chocolate. It was so cold that I couldn’t feel my legs. I remember that the last lap I took around the ring seemed extremely slow. I remember the steam coming off my horse’s back because he was so hot from running. Here’s what really happened on that night.

It was October 31st and the people at our barn, The Georgetown Saddle Club, were having a Halloween party. There was going to be a barrel racing contest that night so I was warming my horse, Skippy, up. I was riding him without a saddle or a pad because it’s really comfortable (to me) and it gives the horse less weight to carry. I was simply running laps around the ring. The bitterly cold air had been blowing past me, freezing my limbs, for what seemed like an eternity, but every second I enjoyed it. You could hear the faint laughter of the people that were up at the clubhouse eating the rest of their dinner. My parents were also up at the clubhouse, not knowing that my little sister had slowly meandered her way down to the ring. It was dark because there was no moon that night; there were no stars in the sky, or so it seemed, because the clouds had hidden them from sight. The orange-tented ring lights were on which made it where you couldn’t see anything outside of their luminous reach. Nobody else was in the ring at the time. I was really enjoying the quiet and I was able to focus on what Skippy was doing; making sure that every step he took was just right and even. With horses, if you take one wrong step, it could ruin their lives forever. As I took my last lap it happened. Everything rapidly slowed down as I saw my little sister step under the white, paint chipped railing, and into the ring. I saw true fear on her face because she knew she wouldn’t be able to move out of the way fast enough. She knew that she was going to get hit.

She tried to scream but nothing came out of her fear-dried throat. When my horse got to her, he was still in a full out run. Somehow, miraculously, he slid so hard on his back feet that he reared up. There was a horse in the lunge ring and as my horse reared up, the horse in the lunge ring neighed this scream-like neigh. It really made the moment seem absolutely unreal. I thought that maybe I was dreaming. I had it in my mind that I wasn’t seeing what was happening. I knew I had hit my sister. There was no way I could have missed her. My horse was rearing straight up and, even though I didn’t believe that he stopped, I knew that he had the power to. While he was in the air I couldn’t breathe. It’s like I forgot how. My sister put her hand out in front of her and touched his hot, steaming chest while his hooves were dancing in the air above her head in slow-motion, slinging the wet, orange dirt all over her. As all of this happened I watched my sister’s face transform through many different emotions: terror, confusion, curiosity, and then a sort of crazed relief. She slowly stumbled backwards and fell onto the ground. She was laughing.

When my horse came back down I jumped off as fast as I could. How could she be laughing when I had almost killed her? Maybe it was shock but honestly I think she was just really confused. I scooped her up into my arms. Skippy stood right behind me. He was resting his warm wet nose on my shoulder. He didn’t try to run off even though was loose; he didn’t try to eat the grass that was growing at the edge of the ring even though it was clearly within his reach. He stood there knowing that I literally owed him my life because he saved my sister’s. He knew that he was the hero in this scene.
* * *

From then on out everyone was congratulating me on how well I rode that night and how great I controlled my horse. I didn’t care about any of that. I was just glad that I didn’t hit my sister. Another reason I didn’t care was simply because, that night, I wasn’t the one that was controlling my horse. My horse was controlling himself and because of that he saved my sisters life. I am grateful ‘till this day that he was able to control himself, despite what was drilled in his head to do.



Join the Discussion


This article has 18 comments. Post your own!

angelic553 said...
Jan. 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm:
found some spelling errors
 
Archangel1410 replied...
Apr. 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm :
Its not the New York Times. It's a good story but who cares about spelling.
 
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513lamont said...
Jan. 27, 2010 at 11:38 am:
it was really good i liked it a lot.
 
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JeffW said...
Feb. 22, 2009 at 12:53 am:
Wow! You had an amazing story to tell and you told it very well!
Don't wait for another near-death experience; just keep writing and writing and writing. Also, don't be afraid to give God credit where it's due. I know you well enough to know that you believe he had a hand it protecting your sister. Don't be afraid to share that.
I'm very proud of you. Take a minute or two (but only a couple) to be proud of yourself!
Jeff
 
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Helpful said...
Feb. 13, 2009 at 6:40 pm:
Emily
God's many blessings. There is nothing that we cannot do if we just put God in the forefront. You have only just begun. To God be the glory for all the wonderful things He has done in your life and the things yet to come. Onward and Upward, and the next "Best Seller" is on the way. I'm so proud of you, and the support you have from family members (especially Mom and Dad) and everyone else.
Fran
 
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Nancy C. said...
Feb. 11, 2009 at 6:20 pm:
Wonderful story Emily. Your creative word usage truly brought the story alive. Keep on writing and riding.
 
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Marsh said...
Feb. 11, 2009 at 12:33 am:
Emily, this was a wonderful story. I think I was holding my breath with you.
You have a real talent for writing and keeping your reader "on a hook". I look forward to reading more....marsha
 
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Marcey West said...
Feb. 10, 2009 at 4:34 pm:
Emily, that was great! What a story AND a testimony that God was with all of you! You certainly are gifted! Keep writing!
 
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Emily ann said...
Feb. 10, 2009 at 3:52 pm:
Thanks for the comments guys!! I'm so excited that this got published!
 
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Mrs. Peggy :-) said...
Feb. 10, 2009 at 3:16 pm:
Congratulations Emily, I was in supense, tears and awe. I think a guardian angel held Skippy so Olivia could escape. That was a frightening experience for both of you and you told it so we could feel all the emotions with you. God has blessed you with many talents. I'm so glad I got to share in this with you. Keep up the good work. :-)
 
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Mommy said...
Feb. 10, 2009 at 2:43 pm:
Wow, Emily Ann I always knew you would be a writer. I hope that this is just the begining of a wonderful writing journey for you sweetie. Mom
 
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jason said...
Feb. 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm:
Great story Emily! You made it seem like I was really there watching it as it happened.
 
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sun8888 said...
Feb. 6, 2009 at 2:42 am:
great job
 
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Eutanzi said...
Feb. 6, 2009 at 2:40 am:
Not perfect, but pretty darn close. Keep up the good work.
 
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Aunt Kim said...
Feb. 6, 2009 at 1:33 am:
Emily you are a gifted writer. I love how you wrote the story with such detail and suspense. Keep the ink flowing! I can't wait until your first novel is published. Love you!!!!
 
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Debra289 said...
Feb. 4, 2009 at 7:20 pm:
Meme is so glad to see that you like to write, as well as read. The story was well well written and it was like a good book because I wanted to keep reading to see what was going to happen next. A Great story!!! Love, Meme
 
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Atlanta said...
Feb. 4, 2009 at 3:50 am:
That was a great story, Emily. You have some great talent. It was very descriptive and suspenseful. Keep up the great work.
 
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lynx16 said...
Feb. 2, 2009 at 11:26 pm:
Terrific article, but I think God had His hand in it too. He has plans for your sister and it was not her time.
 
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