Deby O'Gorman
Deby O'Gorman 19 pledges

I will never forget being 4 years-old and getting my first pony and a horse by 6. I have loved horses since I knew what they were. They are my essence; my life.

In the recent past, I’ve worn a helmet most of the time, but not always; despite being hurt many times–broken bones, concussions and just plain bruised. But I’ll tell you, I’ve never been so hurt as I was this past June when I “wasn’t” wearing a helmet, and I’ll never ride again without one. Not wearing a helmet has changed by life irreversibly.

This story really begins when I started longing to ride on the fabulous Reno Rodeo Flag Team. It seems like I’ve always wanted to be on the flag team. So this was going to be the year. This was going to be the year I made my longtime dream come true. So . . . I started practicing on my little (900lb.) Rocky Mountain mare–Pepsi. She’s a doll. A really sweet horse that is so eager and willing to please. I’ve had her since she was 9 months old. And we worked really hard, hoping to make the team. Finally, we made it! I was so excited–it was a dream come true.

On June 10, while practicing for the rodeo, I was involved in a horrific horse accident with Pepsi. This would be the day that would change my life forever–a day that, because of my injury, I can’t even remember. On that day, I’ve been told that Pepsi tripped in the thick dirt and fell on top of me, slamming me to the ground and instantly knocking me out. I was in a coma for more than 15 hours and in the hospital for almost three weeks. A second visit to the hospital lasted another week. As a result of this accident, I sustained painful broken ribs and a painful broken collarbone, as well as a brain bleed. But, the worst injury of all . . . I sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (“TBI”). I understand now that this is quite common in horse accidents. But I was really clueless that the damage from such an injury would be so extensive.

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