After I had finished my last final of the semester on a sunny Tuesday morning in December, I packed my car and headed over to my professor's house for a celebratory horseback ride. Maggie, my professor’s 10-year-old Quarter Horse mare and I had a riding date. Maggie had been a wonderful escape for me throughout a difficult semester. Not to mention that after a summer of teaching horseback riding she assisted in healing my major withdraw I’d had after camp ended. Maggie is quite green, for those of you who aren't horse people this means she isn't very well trained. This is mostly due to the fact she doesn't get ridden very often. So when I met Maggie she drew in me a desire to take her on as a project horse. I had this plan that I was going to whip this girl into shape. And I began to, but in the beginning it wasn't as simple as I’d hoped. Barely a ride went by that Maggie didn't fight me. She loved to fuss and buck, though I am proud to say she was only able to unseat me once on the first time I rode her. Still, the horseman's motto is when you fall off you get right back on. I've never done otherwise.
When it came to that morning ride I had been feeling that Maggie and I were starting to become friends. She fought me less and even whinnied to see me when I came to see her. I know she loved the attention; I'd bring her apples, talk to her, and brush her down really well. I would pick out her hooves and brush her mane until it shown. I mean come on, what girl doesn't love to be pampered?! After a really tough semester, but the best grades I've gotten in my entire academic career I was in desperate need for a good, long, happy ride. I was stoked. It was the start of a long Christmas break and I had a to-do list even longer than the break itself.
Maggie was happy to see me. I happily gave her lots of attention and teased on her obnoxious pasture buddy, the fat goat I lovingly named "Grunhilde". I groomed Maggie and tacked her up ready to celebrate my achievements with her. We rode out into the huge field behind my professor's house. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I was happy as could be. Everything was perfect.
I've always told people that the place I feel closest to God is when I am sitting tall on the back of trustee steed. I rode Maggie deep into the field where in the back there is this awesome grass track that I can ride in. It’s great for working a horse through her paces and the view is wonderful. All was calm and peaceful when suddenly Maggie spooked. Horses are flighty animals and the next thing knew that little horse was bucking hard all over the place. I stayed on, but realized right at that moment that there was a low flying airplane and helicopter gliding loudly over the field at the same time. Once Maggie stopped bucking I made her stand. I took deep breaths to help calm her. I waited quietly as the plane and helicopter passed over, until I could no longer hear or see them. Then I gave Maggie a reassuring pat before squeezing and asking her to move forward again.
"Come on Maggie. Let's have a really good ride today.” I remember telling her confidently, “We're not getting off to such a good start..." I told her as we reached the track. The next few seconds happened so fast. All I remember is flying sensation and then darkness.
The next thing I knew I awoke on the ground in excruciating pain. I blinked and tried to get my bearings. Everything hurt. Maggie was nowhere in sight. I reached up one arm over slowly toward my right shoulder where I felt extreme pain. I lightly touched my collar bone. I immediately knew something was broken. My left wrist also ached painfully. Somehow, I suppose because of an adrenaline rush, I managed to push myself up off the cold ground. With both arms screaming in pain I managed to stand up and slowly started walking back towards the barn. "There goes my celebratory ride," I remember thinking to myself. My next thoughts turned swiftly to Maggie. Where had she gone? What if she ran out in the road and got hit by a car? I was desperate to find her right away. I was overwhelmed by thoughts as I analyzed the situation. I knew no one was home at my professor's house, so I resolved fearfully that I was on my own.
But in truth, I was not on my own. In the midst of this unexpected accident God was looking out for me.
While this was all going on my professor's wife had been praying at school. She had realized she had extra 10 minutes before she had to be at a Christmas party. She had felt God telling her to come watch me ride. Just as I was walking down the long hill to the driveway, wondering where Maggie could be, my professor’s wife pulled in. Everything is somewhat of a blur after that. My professor’s wife quickly assessed the situation and had me sit down just as I began doing into shock. Maggie was found grazing contently at the neighbors as though nothing had happened. My professor rushed me to the hospital where we all discovered my collarbone was split clean through in two places with minor shattering. My left wrist was fractured and I had a bad neck strain. Yet, with all that the doctor said it was a miracle that through the force of the fall I hadn't broken my neck.
A week later with some loving nursing from my mother I had an extensive surgery on my collarbone. I know carry large metal plate and eight screws in my collarbone. I have a huge scar that would make Frankenstein’s bride jealous. I spent my Christmas break in a lot of pain and on a lot of pain medication. It has been a slow healing process, but I am continually reminded of God’s goodness. I don't know why this tragedy happened. I don’t know why God decided to completely change the plan I had for my Christmas vacation. Yet, I do know that I am thankful for my life. My assurance through this trial God must be keeping me around for something. He has used this time to show me how blessed I am. I have a wonderful family and a group of such caring friend that I could never deserve. The Lord is good to me and my prayer is that He will use this time to grow me into the person He created me to be.