Surviving a Fatal Car Crash – What’s Next?? A Life Restored by Horses
Mine is the typical story of a middle class family that could not afford to buy their child a horse. But my parents did the next best thing by putting me into horse riding lessons at the age of 6. My earliest memory of being horse crazy is when I was 3 years old playing with my Breyer horses along with Jose and Jay cowboy and cowgirl action figures. I began riding lessons, learning dressage with my instructor Nancy Knapp who placed playing cards between my knees and demanded I post without stirrups. I was always the youngest in my dressage classes competing with grown-ups – I was expected to meet adult standards.
Two step-dads and three high schools later I had to give up dressage lessons and moved out of the house two months before graduating high school. I worked two jobs and continued high school graduating top 10 of my class.
Resuming horses in my life had to wait a couple years until I bought Mazda a Welsh/Arab cross that I kept in the backyard of the house I rented in SE Portland (unbeknownst to my landlord tee hee). I lived within the city limits so I obtained a livestock permit and had a lean-to built on the side of the garage for Mazda. Of course the neighbors complained so the local animal control officer would stop by every couple weeks to make an appearance while he enjoyed a beer at my kitchen table. Eventually my landlord found out about Mazda so I had to move him to the countryside where I spent evenings and weekends riding and hanging out.
That winter I started skiing at Mount Hood Meadows every Friday night. One fateful Friday night driving home from skiing I lost control of my car and crossed into oncoming traffic. A Suburban pulling a helicopter trailer hit my passenger side killing my boyfriend sending us off a cliff. When the paramedics arrived I had no signs of life and was pinned under the dashboard with the gear shift stuck in my ribs. An hour and a half later I awoke with the lights on in the cab and my boyfriend lying in the snow out the passenger side (in fatal car crashes bodies cannot be moved until the accident photographer arrives). I tried calling out to him, but I had no breath. I told myself not to panic, that I simply had the wind knocked out of me, but the paramedics heard my weak voice and clamored down the hillside. The Jaws of Life peeled back the cab as the rescue team pulled me through the rear window of my pick-up. I was placed on Life-Flight with a blood pressure reading of 70 systolic and zero nada no diastolic pressure.
At the hospital the doctors found that I had a collapsed lung, broken back, broken pelvis, and internal bleeding. Needless to say I was what is called “fluttering” between life and death. Though I was awake and conscious the entire time during the emergency room ordeal I was unable to receive any pain killers and EVERYTHING hurt!!! I remember choking on my own blood pointing to my mouth in a panic since I couldn’t breathe so a tube was stuffed down my nose that I had to swallow, it was horrific. A needle poked beneath my belly button into my stomach made me scream in pain as the concerned physician peering through a scope into my stomach where he found 2/3 of my body’s blood. I was rushed to surgery where I breathed deeply the sleeping gas hoping that I wouldn’t wake up knowing my boyfriend was dead because of me (my liver was lacerated in 3 places).
There is so much more to the story like my boyfriend’s parents suing me for millions, the people who hit my car sued me, I lost my business being forced into selling my shares for a $1 to my partner and ultimately my life was in ruins. I didn’t “live” for many years grieving and blaming myself for killing my beloved friend – I didn’t deserve to be loved is how I felt. After the accident I had to sell my horse Mazda since I was now disabled and unable to stand up straight for many months. With a broken pelvis I used a cane to walk, but had no car to drive to the grocery store and my business partner would not give me the keys to my motorcycle in fear I would kill myself. I was stranded, but friends and family made sure I had food and company from time to time. Eventually my physician released me to ride a bike so I had wheels for awhile until I finally got my motorcycle keys, but then the motorcycle was stolen just a month later – was anything going to ever get better?
Years went by as I started my life over determined to be independent, never relying on anyone since I found out the hard way people could be cruel and untrustworthy, at least that’s how I felt for many many years. I climbed the corporate ladder earning the title of Vice President at two Oregon corporations during my career. At the age of 26 I gave birth to my first son and four years later my second son. I had a need to bare those two boys that words cannot describe – it was like a ton of bricks lay on my back and chest until I finally gave in to the Universal pressure of having a child. I thought I was unfit to have children both physically and emotionally which is why I held off so long. I tell my boys “you have a purpose that is greater than my understanding”.
I bought my first house in Portland, Oregon and five years later it doubled in value so I moved to the country to live my dream hoping one day to have horses again while raising my sons in the expansive natural world. There in the countryside I met my beloved, my husband Ken. He is a gifted Luthier (www.NWLutes.com), artist and craftsman who devoted every day to realizing my dreams by putting up fences and building me a barn and subsequently a training arena. After seven years of living in the country I was finally able to bring horse’s home…..
Once I bought a couple horses and brought them home magic in my life began to manifest. At first I rode my horses the way I had been taught all those dressage years. I used bits and spurs, crops and whips, but I could never get that loving bonded connection with my horses duh…… I couldn’t figure out why my horses seemed distant and just wanted to go back to the barn rebuffing my affections. I rode with command and control as I was taught, but when it came time to just “be” with my horses they didn’t want anything to do with me. So I set out on a quest to find a better way. I heard about Bitless Bridles which gave a new meaning to the word “whoa”, “oh” I thought “I can ride bitless so long as I can stop my horse”, thinking that’s all I needed to do to make my horses happy with me. But that only frustrated my horses more since the crossing straps under the chin wouldn’t release when I released pressure on the reins. I had to bend down and stick my finger under my horse’s chin to loosen the straps while trying to get my horse to stop tossing her head. There had to be a better way!!
I kept searching and finally came across Frank Bell along with Sylvia Scott who was affiliated with Frank at that time. I bought Frank’s DVD “The Horse You Never Knew” and I was hooked, this was it for me. I was so inspired by Frank’s methods while Sylvia lent her unending advice and expertise that I became an Accredited Instructor of Frank Bell. Once I started applying these new found methods my horses responded in kind by relaxing, behaving and trusting me. I was no longer hurting them into submission, but now speaking their language, being gentle and treating them as a Sentient Being.
I expanded on Frank’s methods coming up with my Do No Harm approach, trademarked & produced my video series, Training the Whole Horse, while I traveled around the country as a clinician during horse expos demonstrating my newly invented Bitless All-In-One Halter Bridle. My quest is to bring awareness that you don’t need a bit to ride safely and that most problem horses are simply in pain. My preferred trail riding saddle is an English All-Purpose Wintec which allows me to duck and/or lay upon my horse as we run through the forests. I discovered over 100 miles of trails just across the street from my home (a treasure not known at the time I bought my home – that was MAGIC). I have endless stories of so many horses that have come through my barn for training, from tumors on an ovary, to bone infections from infected teeth with lots and lots of very happy endings. The greatest magic is the discovery that I am worthy of love. No hu-man did I believe, but when a horse showed me love I believed!!
PS – the physical consequences of my accident have given me Fibromyalgia, chronic pain & fatigue which influenced my horse training methods of gentleness, quick release, and short spurt training. I now offer the Equine Support Center for Fibromyalgia so if you or anyone you know is a Fibro sufferer and would like to spend time with magical horses call me at 888-406-7689 or email Missy@MissyWryn.com.
Let me know how I can be of assistance to you in any way
With love and verve