Nov 24, 2017
There’s a saying among horse people: “It’s not a matter of if you will fall, but when you will fall.” And the old adage of, “When it happens, you’ve got to get right back on that horse.” But this perspective — even though it’s based on sound logic, handed down by riders throughout the ages — takes on an entirely new meaning when their fall, and subsequent injuries, rob a person of their memories, prior life, and even basic life functions such as walking and talking.
In the case of Sallie Stewart, “getting back up on that horse” after her fall meant getting back on the very horse that almost killed her. Sallie’s Andalusian stallion, Escogido XXV, lost his footing and fell while she was riding him. Sallie hit the ground first, then Esco landed on her head, causing facial fractures and a traumatic brain injury that dramatically changed her life.
It took an incredible act of courage to fight her way back — persevering through her severe injury and difficult rehab — to recreate her life in a new way and to define her new "normal." Before the accident, Sallie was a successful real estate broker and dressage rider and had been leading a happy life with her husband, children, and four horses. After Esco fell on her, she lost her memory, her balance, and her ability to perform the most basic of tasks. She couldn’t hold a job or shake the overwhelming fear that replaced the confidence she once felt. While her husband and sons taught her to walk, talk, dress, and feed herself, her dressage coach, Mike Osinski, calmed the traumatized horse and challenged Sallie to conquer her fears.
As Sallie progressed in her lessons with Mike Osinksi and conquered her fears, she recovered her memories and developed a new sense of self. She discovered that her deepest healing took place on the back of the very horse that had fallen on her: Escogido XXV.
Topic of Discussion:
[2:31] Elise Chand welcomes Sallie Stewart to the podcast and asks how she and Escogido are doing now.
[4:20] How Esco is handling the stall rest.
[5:40] Changing who she was to ride Esco after the accident.
[9:10] The difference between father and son; Esco and Marengo, and what the horses mean to Sallie.
[11:26] Growing and learning with Esco.
[13:31] Sallie’s journey of overcoming her injury and garnering the courage to re-engage with horses and the very horse that badly injured her, Esco.
[16:58] The damage to Sallie’s memory after the accident and the encouragement she received from her sons.
[18:37] The lack of therapy and treatment Sallie received after her accident.
[21:07] The amazing relationships in Sallie’s life that helped lead her down the road to recovery.
[22:46] How this experience has affected the way Sallie’s sons and husband feel about horses.
[24:13] The safe haven horses provide for Sallie and the particularly strong, deep connection she shares with Esco.
[26:10] Sallie’s husband’s experience riding Esco.
[27:14] “Rolling with the punches,” and more about Sallie’s husband and their relationship.
[31:27] The profound impact Mike Osinski has had on Sallie’s life, family, and book.
[35:58] Sallie’s TBI and finally being referred to a neurologist, two years after her accident.
[37:01] The ending of Sallie’s 17-year career and realizing the level of damage from her TBI.
[42:49] Where Sallie gets her inner strength, determination, and refusal to give up.
[44:35] Mike Osinski’s intuitiveness with horses and how he’s helped Sallie reconnect with Esco.
[47:35] Sallie’s first ride with Esco after her accident, compared to the ride where she scored the 68, and what those rides meant to her.
[50:16] The importance of the perspective gained and the journey along the way of earning that 68 score.
[53:50] What horses meant to Sallie before her injury vs. what they mean to her now.
[55:08] The profound impact horses have had throughout Sallie’s life and Sallie’s “new normal.”
[58:04] The crucial point to Sallie’s recovery: getting back on the horse that injured her.
[1:01:54] Where to find Sallie and her book, Escogido XXV: The Chosen, online.
[1:02:58] Sallie’s parting words.
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