It's been a rough 4 weeks. I honestly don't even know where to begin...
21 days ago, somebody so dear to me lost her life in a tragic horse accident. My trainer and 9 of "her girls" (including me) were at a big barrel race in west Texas on labor day weekend competing. I was already having a super rough week and a rough couple of runs. Our plan was to go up there, compete, and come home safely just like everybody else. Friday and Saturday pass by... Some good runs some bad runs. Sunday arrives. It was like any ordinary day. In the morning I woke up, fed my horse, then tacked up and prepared for my pole bending run. I knocked a pole and got disqualified from placing, walked my horse out, put him up, then went to a lake 20 minutes away to learn how to wakeboard. All morning I did NOT want to go learn... And still, at the lake getting my gear, I was throwing a fit not wanting to do it for no reason. Well, I did it. I was in the water for about 10 minutes learning how to stand when my mom called me in. It was 3:53pm. One of my friends was repeatedly calling my phone. Something happened on the race grounds. It was my trainer. Liz was frantically crying telling me that our beloved trainer was struck by a spooked horse and was trampled. At that time she was unresponsive and in critical condition. As soon as she said that, my heart went numb. I had no idea what to do. When you were done wakeboarding, you were supposed to return the gear to the office. That was not the case for me. I ripped everything off, dropped it right where I was standing, and demanded my mother to take me to the hospital. At this time the race grounds were waiting for life flight, but soon found out they could not land the helicopter without horses getting spooked, so they called in an ambulance. I stayed on the phone with Liz the whole time waiting for news. They finally got her to the hospital. At this time I was pacing up and down the sidewalk between the lake and the office crying my eyes out. My trainer's daughter walked outside to tell her girls that she flatlined and they are trying to revive her. I overheard and immediately collapsed to the ground screaming. My mom picked all of my gear up and rushed it back to the office so we could go to the hospital. As soon as she got inside to return everything, the phone went quiet. I asked what was going on. All of a sudden Liz comes back on the phone and could barely talk. "They couldn't save her Kayla... She's gone.". I collapsed again. This time in front of a dozen people. Screaming and crying... My mom helped me up and to the car as I still uncontrollably scream. It was 20 minutes to the hospital, but it felt like days... Every 30 seconds I would look up at the GPS to see how close we were. We finally arrive after what seemed like hours. All of the girls were outside sitting on the ground crying. I see Liz. I jump out of the car and we both run into each other's arms, crying our eyes out. Everything was changing so fast. I had no idea how to feel and honestly I believe my body went into shock. They set up a room for us girls to give our last goodbyes to the greatest person we knew. After several minutes of waiting, they called us back. It was pure silence with all of us walking back there, holding hands. We all walked into the room to see her laying there. Every single one of us immediately burst into tears, circle around her, and hold each other's hands tighter. We all prayed together and said goodbye. Everyone went back to the race grounds and everything was quiet. The directors of the barrel race asked the riders (including me) who haven't ran yet if they wanted to run, in honor of our trainer. We all said yes. I was all saddled up and waiting to run with 4 of the other girls. Walking back there and seeing where the accident happened was the hardest thing... All 5 of us sat together, waiting. 4 went ahead and ran and finally, it was my turn. I begin to cry.. Hard. This young lady walked up beside me and told me my trainer was so proud of me. They call my name... As I walked up to the gate I whispered, "I love you Jeanine..", and made the prettiest run I've ever ran in my life.
Typing that was the hardest thing... But I wanted you guys to know what happened and where I've been. It's been a very rough month, but I'm getting through it slowly. There will be a Memorial Barrel Race in honor of my trainer in October which I think is so amazing for a community to do this for us. It's so hard trying to see the positivity in this, but I know something good will come of this.
P.S. They are taking donations for funds for the barrel race. It's a long shot, but if you could please share this, or if you want to donate yourself, please comment below or send me a message. Thanks
If you want to watch my tribute run: