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Paralyzed horse trainer helps wounded warriors
A man living physical limitations, working to help wounded warriors.
I want you to meet my new friend, this is Cowboy. He's being trained to work with wounded warriors here at the Safe Haven Rescue Center. Now I'm not very impressive as a rider, but wait until you see the real trainer."
Two days after his 21st birthday, Nick Smith's arms and legs were paralyzed in a farming accident. Doctors said he'd never ride again. They didn't know him very well.
"I've always had that, that specially when somebody told me I couldn't do something. I was stubborn. I've always been so stubborn. I may not be able to do it as good, but before I say I can't do, I'll darn sure try."
Without the use of his legs, Smith had to figure out other ways to control and communicate with his horse. When the owners of Safe Haven saw what he can do, they asked for his help training horses to work with wounded warriors.
"When I was in combat at 19, I'd already been wounded twice. And when I came home, the connection back to the family, back to the community, was not there," said Jim Bryan.
Bryan and Smith say riding can help veterans re-connect and start healing.
"When I'm on this horse, it's the closest thing to walking again you can ever imagine. I don't have to worry about rocks, sand, dirt, steps, stairs. I feel normal," said Nick.
Nick Smith travels from north Georgia to work with these horses, asking only for gas money. He says nine years ago, seeing someone who had overcome his challenges would have given him hope.
"The gift that God as blessed me with to be able to still do this, it's too much not to share," Nick said.
The owner here says just as important as the riding, is the interaction between the person and the horse for healing bodies and hearts.