The Fall That Almost Broke Me

The Fall That Almost Broke Me

... and the road back.

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My Senior year of high school, I was working with a very inexperienced paint horse I had named Pink Floyd. Pink came to me on a buddy deal, and I honestly knew better than to take on such a job at this busy time of my life, but nevertheless, I started working with him.

In the Spring of 2016, I hauled my horses to a local arena alone, as I had done countless times, to work them. I saddled Pink and began working on simple skills as we always did; nothing out of our typical routine. About twenty minutes into our session, Pink became agitated and began refusing to cooperate with simple cues he had mastered and learned to read with ease. Before I knew what had happened, he lunged into the air rearing up. I leaned forward to regain my balance, bracing on his neck as he lingered in the air, but he didn't feel right. I felt his balance faltering and began getting ready to bail.

As I tried to kick my stirrups off, Pink fell backward. I bailed, barely landing out of the way of the saddle horn as it stabbed into the ground. My vision was foggy as I caught glimpses of the horse rolling over the top of me in his struggle to regain his footing. I passed out waking up to an unnerving numbness.

I laid in the sand of the arena in complete fear. I was scared to move. I began trying to prepare myself for the worst-case scenario. After what felt like an eternity, feeling began to come back. My head ached, there was a stabbing pain in my lower back, and a throbbing sensation in my right leg. I rolled onto my stomach and my world was spinning. As I blinked sand out of my eyes, I caught a glimpse of Pink standing quietly at the far end of the arena. I managed to get onto my knees, then stood up with stinging tears in my eyes.

I hobbled across the arena to check him out. Through gritted teeth, I managed to check him over. He seemed to be unscathed. I unsaddled Pink and loaded both horses into the trailer before calling my mom. After both horses were safely home, I agreed to go to the doctor.

After X-rays and an exam, it became apparent that I had done serious damage to my sacroiliac joint, the joint that connects the upper half of your body to the bottom half. In addition to the damage to my back, I had a concussion and a hematoma on my right leg. To this day, I have issues with my back, but I am so lucky. Although I was bedridden for several days, I was okay. I was so fortunate to have been spared from life-altering injuries, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't appreciate how blessed I am to have survived being crushed by an 1,100-pound animal.

After the fall, however, I had some trepidation about climbing back into the saddle. I'll be the first to admit that I was scared. I was scared of falling again and I refused to ride any of my horses. It was hard to face the horse that could've killed me and even harder to accept that I was afraid of something that had once given me such joy. But, more than anything, I was ashamed that I couldn't find it within myself to face this horse. In the world of western riding, you're told to be "cowgirl tough" and I felt like a failure. I considered quitting, I almost thought cutting my losses and selling my horses would be better than getting back on that paint horse.

Finally, almost two months after the fall, I decided enough was enough, and I pulled him out of the pasture. With shaky hands, I saddled him, and with wide eyes, I mounted him. I rode him like a beginner, clinging to the saddle horn for dear life, but I rode him. It wasn't pretty, and it was a short ride, but I did it, and I am so glad I did. I faced the horse that could've ended my riding career, and I am all the better for it. I do not claim to be the best rider, and I am no cowgirl, but I conquered something monumental in my life. An insignificant ride to most, but probably the most important ride of my life.

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20 Of The Coolest Animal Species In The World

Animals that almost seem imaginary.
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The world is full of amazing animals. So amazing, that narrowing them down to 20 felt nearly impossible. To determine who made the cut for this list, I used very important factors such as, cuteness and how much some of them looked like Pokémon . I know, very official. So here are some of the coolest animals in the world.

1. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest and cutest species of armadillo. It is on the list of threatened species and is found in the sandy plains, dunes, and grasslands of Argentina. The pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature that survives mostly on insects and plants.


2. Okapi

The okapi is an animal native to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Although the stripes make many people believe okapi are related to zebra, they are actually closer to giraffe. Okapi are solitary creatures and come together to breed. They are herbivores, mostly eating leaves, grass, and other plants.


3. Glaucus Atlanticus or "the Blue Dragon"

These little dragon-like creatures are often only about a few inches long and can be found in the Indian Pacific Oceans. The blue dragon floats upside down in order to blend the blue side of them with the water, and the silver side with the surface of the ocean. This tiny dragon feeds on creatures like the man o' war and can even deliver a sting similar to it.


4. The Maned Wolf

The maned wolf is often found in the grasslands of south, central-west, and southeastern parts of Brazil. It is neither related to wolves nor foxes despite its appearance and name, but is actually closer to dogs. The maned wolf hunts alone and primarily eats both meat and plants (about 50% of its diet).


5. Fossa

The fossa is a carnivorous animal located in Madagascar. Despite having many traits similar to cats, it is more closely related to the Mongoose. The fossa is only found in forest habitats and can hunt in either daytime or night. Over 50 percent of its diet happens to be lemurs.


6. Japanese Spider Crab

As the name suggestions, the Japanese spider crab inhabits the waters surrounding Japan. In many parts of Japan, this crab can be considered a delicacy but can be considerably difficult to catch. The Japanese spider crab can grow to 12 feet long from claw to claw. There is only one sea creature-- amongst similar species (aka crustaceans)-- that beats the weight of a Japanese spider crab: the American Lobster.


7. Pacu Fish

Look closely at the teeth, do they look familiar? This fish is found in the waters of South America. This fish, while related to the piranha, can actually grow much larger. They can also be found in rivers like the Amazon and is an aid to the fishing industry. Unlike the piranha, pacu mostly only eat seeds and nuts, though can still create nasty injuries to other animals if need be.


8. Slow Loris

The slow loris is a nocturnal creature found in Southeast Asia. While very adorable, the loris's teeth are actually quite venomous. The toxin on their teeth can also be applied to fur through grooming to protect its babies from predators. Often times these creatures forage and spend time alone, although can on occasion be seen with other slow lorises. Apart from their toxic teeth, the slow lorises have another defense mechanism, in which they move nearly completely silently in order to prevent discovery.


9. Angora Rabbit

These cute, fluffy rabbits are among the hairiest breeds of rabbit of both wild and domestic types. These rabbits originated in Turkey although managed to spread throughout Europe and was even brought to the United States in the 20th century. These rabbits are often bred for their soft wool which can be made into clothing, and often get rid of their own coats every 3-4 months.


10. Axolotl

The axolotl or "Mexican salamander" (who looks like a Pokémon , if you ask me) is often spotted in lakes in various places around Mexico. These little salamanders are amphibious although often spend their adult lives strictly in the water. However, the population of these cute creatures is dwindling due to non-native predators and the continued urbanization of Mexico. The axolotl eats small worms, insects, and fish in order to survive.


11. Liger

The liger, however made up it sounds, is a real (and cute) animal created by a lion and a tiger mating. Ligers only seem to exist in captivity or zoos because the lion and tiger don't share the same habitat in the wild. Unfortunately, these animals don't live very long or are sterile despite being bigger than both the lion and the tiger. While these animals are cool and unique, they are not strictly natural or sustainable.


12. Bearded Vulture

I don't know about you all, but this vulture reminds me of a phoenix which was initially why I looked into the creature. These vultures inhabit a range of places from southern Europe to the Indian subcontinent, to Tibet. This vulture, like other vultures, typically eats dead animals, although it has been documented that the bearded vulture will attack live prey more often than other vultures.


13. Goblin Shark


This unusual shark is also known as a "living fossil" because they are the last representative of sharks that lived about 125 million years ago. It is a deep sea shark that can grow between 10-13 feet if not longer. The goblin shark has been caught accidentally in every major ocean. The goblin shark is not a fast swimmer and relies on ambushing its prey.


14. Red Panda

This cute, small panda lives in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The red panda is rather small, only about the same size as most domestic cats. Its eating habits range from bamboo, to eggs, to insects, and several other small mammals. The red panda is primarily sedentary during the day and at night or in the morning does whatever hunting it needs to do.


15. Blobfish

This blobfish is, in a way, so ugly that it is cute (although reminds me of a certain Pokémon ) This fish lives in the deep waters of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The blobfish has a density only sightly above that of water. The fish primarily hunts by just floating along and letting creatures wander into its mouth, rather than expending any energy.


16. Leaf Deer

The leaf deer is usually found in dense forests in the northwest region of Putao. The adult leaf deer only stands at about 20 inches high and the males and females are nearly identical except for an inch long horn on the males. It is called a leaf deer because hunters could wrap the deer in a single large leaf.


17. Tiger

While tigers are a more common animal than many others on this list, it is still one of the coolest animals in the world. Tigers are the largest of all cats and once ranged from Russia, to Turkey, to parts of Asia — almost all over the world. These animals are fierce, powerful creatures, although they are on the endangered species list.


18. Narwhals

Narwhals are a species of whale that live in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The narwhal's diet changes depending on the time of year: in the spring the narwhal will eat cod, while in the winter the narwhal will eat flatfish. Narwhals can live up to 50 years and most frequently die of suffocation from being trapped under the ice.


19. Cheetah

Cheetahs, while more commonly heard of then some of the other animals on this list, are still incredibly cool. They often inhabit many parts of Africa and Iran. These amazing cats can reach up to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and use their tails to make quick and sudden turns. These amazing cats also have semi-retractable claws which helps with speed. The cheetah, however, doesn't have much besides speed to defend itself.


And finally....


20. Superb Bird of Paradise

This GIF demonstrates the mating dance used by male superb birds of paradise. Typically females reject about 20 mates before selecting one they want to mate with. They are often found in New Guinea although it is unsure just how many of these birds there are. As far as scientists know, the population has remained stable.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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A Walk Through The Woods That Eased My Pain

After a week of constant pain, a walk through pine flatwoods helped me feel alive and at peace.

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A week of constant pain left me exhausted. All I wanted to do was lie in bed. I didn't want to go anywhere, but my husband wanted to work from the park, so we went. After sitting on the bench for a while, uncomfortable and aching, I remembered sometimes when you're in pain it helps to walk it off, so I decided to take the trail through the woods.

The woods at this park, like most parks in Florida, are made up of various tall pines and low-lying shrubs. It is called a pine flatwood. I walked the path slowly, not in a rush to get anywhere, just there to enjoy it. The pine left a sweet odor. Slash pines and longleaf pines towered above, their long straight trunks topped with long bright green needles that stood against the blue Florida sky.

My back still ached a little but felt much better, so I kept moving. The path weaved through the woods. Partially shaded by the trees. People passed me, but I didn't mind. They were busy exercising; I was busy enjoying. I loved the dense saw palmetto that lined the forest floor. Some woods are darker or mostly brown colored, especially on the floor that is often covered in fallen wood and leaves, but not these woods, these woods are vibrant shades of green, green that makes you feel alive. It made me feel more alive than I had in days.

Typically, when I take walks in the park, I spend time watching the birds, seeing which ones I can identify. This time on the trail there weren't many birds, so my attention was drawn to the pines, palmettos, and other plants instead. Often, these plants go unnoticed, serving as a backdrop to the more exciting parts of nature. But as I turned my attention to the trees, I noticed how stunning they were.

I looked up noticing how their branches spread in front of the sky. Then I looked at the endless palmettos, extending through the woods. The trees towered above me, yet they were a comfort, a shelter, that helped take my mind off the aching. The trees are still and peaceful, helping me to be still too. To stand confidently and breathe, and to also rest, clear my head, and know that it'll all be okay.

I walked through the trees for a while, not wanting to stop. It's important we all learn from trees. In their still, patience they know things that we fast-paced humans often forget in our busy lives. Life needs to be enjoyed, slowed down and still, our minds and our bodies. And when we do, it's healing. Walk slowly, take it in, notice the trees that we often forget to notice because they are still, but that doesn't mean they aren't the wisest of us all.

My aching was not cured, but as I returned from my walk, I felt at peace, rejuvenated, alive. Like the bright green towering pines, I stood proud and breathed in the fresh air.

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