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Even as a young child, horseback riding has always been my secret talent. I can remember as a 6 year-old going out to the big pasture and catching my horse, Freddy. I could smell the fresh cut grass and the big cedar trees that surrounded the arena, mixed with the aroma of horses. I had my dad help lift me on the tall horse, and I rode him in from the pasture, absent of a saddle or bridle. I cleared my first jump at the age of 8, and in then my first show, I won gold. One day, though, my luck was not that good.
I was riding at the stables with my sister, Morgan. It was a very hot, dry July day, and the noon sun was beating down on us.
“Let’s race,” she said as we rode around the large sand arena. “Do you want to?” She asked.
We used to race each other in laps around the arena, and even though my horse was faster and usually won, her horse was taller, and had longer legs so she had an advantage.
I looked up at her, and saw that she had a sense of confidence about her, like she thought she could actually win this time.
“Okay.” I paused. “How about this: we take five laps around the arena, and the loser has to clean out the winner’s stall for a week. Deal?”
“Deal.” She said with the same confident look in her eyes. “Ready?”
We both lined up and got ready to go.
“Set?” My veins filled with anticipation and my horse was getting impatient, excited to go. “GO!”
Both of our horses leaped forward and started galloping across the dusty arena. All I could feel was his feet moving back and forth, faster and faster. His hooves were digging into the sand, and kicking it back up into the air, leaving a cloud of dirt behind. We turned the corner, finishing the first lap with great speed. I rode right next to Morgan, striving to take the lead, but we were just too close. All of a sudden, I spurred the horse as an effort to go just a little bit faster. He took a flying leap forward, passing my sister by just a few feet.
I kept going for a few more strides; riding like that was incredibly exciting, even if I had absolutely no control over the horse. I started to round the corner again, but before I could do anything about it, though, he took the turn too tight. I felt the horse’s feet come out from under him, and he fell to the ground with me still in the saddle. We hit the ground like it was a rock, and the last thing I remember is the horse rolling over and smashing my legs and back, before everything went black.
The next thing I knew, I was in a stretcher with two paramedics surrounding me. My legs were in excruciating pain and it hurt to move at all. I looked up to see my mom, dad brother and sister all standing nearby with very concerned looks on their faces. All at once, the pain hit me like a wave. Tears filled my eyes and it was hard to breathe. I tried to relax, but my lungs felt like they were closing in. “I can’t breathe.” I whispered, and it took all my strength to get the words out.
“Get the oxygen! She can’t breathe!” I could hear one of the paramedics yell out, and another ran up and put a mask on my face and at once I could breathe, but I became lightheaded, and my vision turned black.
I woke up in the hospital with my mom sitting next to me. I looked around and saw that I was in a white bed with white walls and bright florescent lights. A doctor walked into the room right as I looked around. He told me that I broke my left leg, two of my ribs and I had deep bruising. Then he told me I would have to get surgery on my leg. Morgan later apologized, even though it was not her fault. Nobody ever won that race and nobody ever cleaned out my stall for me. Even though I had to go through such horrible pain, I was still thankful to be okay, and that one bad experience never stopped me from getting back on a horse.