By Lily Rhodes
Ever since I can remember, horses have been a huge part of my life. I grew up riding my mom’s Quarter Horses, and began taking dressage lessons around the age of nine. I quickly fell in love with dressage when I met the love of my life, Prince Pippen, a 14-year-old Haflinger gelding. He became my lesson pony, and we began competing together. On my twelfth birthday, I went to the barn to find Pippen tied up with a giant bow on his halter. He was mine! I could hardly believe it. It seemed that Pippen and I would conquer the world; nothing could stop us.
However, two years later, I was in an accident. I was on an ATV with friends, heading to a sitting area by the lake. On the way there, we hit a pothole and flipped the ATV. The roll bar crushed and completely severed my right arm. I remember sitting in the hospital, worrying about whether I would ever be able to ride again. That was my main concern. To make matters worse, I ended up battling two infections while recuperating from the accident. After three hospital stays, and what seemed like years of recovery, I was finally cleared to ride again. It was truly the best medicine.
When I resumed riding, Pippen took care of me with every step we took. He knew something was different. After a little over a year of learning to ride with only one arm, I now feel better than ever. With Pippen’s seventeenth birthday coming up, we decided to move him to a friend’s barn where he could enjoy his time, teaching her young grandchildren how to ride.
I received word from a trainer at a hunter/jumper barn who believed she had the perfect horse for me. We went to try him and, sure enough, he was perfect. We made an instant connection. I am now riding and competing with my new horse, Details At Last, or Charlie. Charlie and I have shown together under five judges, winning high point in the Introductory Level.
My incredible trainer, Roberta Clark, stood beside me through it all. I could not have done any of this without her help. She has done so much for me, including helping me find an amazing horse, teaching me how to make special adaptations in my riding, and encouraging me to never give up. She is truly the best trainer a girl could ever wish for. My long term goals are to become para-certified, and join a dressage team in college. Perhaps I may even qualify for the Paralympic Dressage Team one day! One thing I have learned in the past year is to never give up. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. With the help of my wonderful trainer and support from my family and friends, I know I can achieve any goal I set.