There are many things that can happen in life, both good and bad, but how we handle all life throws at us shapes who we are. When we step up on our horse for a practice run or performance, none of us want to think that something bad is going to happen. We are visualizing the perfect run and are focused on the task at hand. Even with our intense desire for everything we have worked for to go right every time…it just doesn’t! Life in general is full of a lot of variables but when we add horses, cattle, tack and questionable arena footing to the mix, we end up with several factors that are ultimately out of our control. It’s up to each of us to adapt and rise above any challenge that comes our way to make the best ride we can, given the circumstances. Sometimes this involves making a decision to better prepare and protect yourself and your horse from injury.
World Champion Barrel Racer Fallon Taylor did just that by adding a helmet to her gear after a terrible accident on a young horse that left her with a broken neck several years ago. Fallon sustained a four-place skull fracture, broke numerous facial bones and broke her C-2 vertebrae—the same injury that paralyzed late actor Christopher Reeve—from the accident. While she’s made a complete recovery, Fallon still suffers from migraines and short-term memory loss and has had to make adjustments to continue her riding career, including wearing a riding helmet. “After having my head shaved and four screws [inserted] into my skull, I quickly realized that I would look cooler in a helmet than I did leaving the hospital!” said Fallon. “The outpouring of support has been amazing! I constantly hear from fans that they were afraid to wear a helmet for fear of being judged by their peers and that I inspired them to change.”
Fallon made the decision to rise above and adapt after life threw her a big challenge. She later became a WPRCA World Champion Barrel Racer and turned this positive life event into her worldwide stage. She has taken what life threw at her, owned it and then turned it into her legacy. We all have the same power to create our own legacy and live up to our full potential. Just as Fallon continues to lead the way in breaking the stigma of wearing a helmet in professional rodeo, we all have the chance to do the same in our life. It doesn’t have to be a big change or ground breaking position, as long as it’s an adaption that will help to get you or your team to its next goal. As we all take in life’s ups and downs, remember it’s how we handle them that shapes us into the people and competitors we are every day in life.