My Miracle Horseback Adventure

The third time my life changed completely is something that I have briefly spoken of here on Alaska Chick’s Blog and on various different Social Media channels here are there.

I have held close the fact that surviving a horrible accident wasn’t what I considered my miracle.

My Miracle Horseback Adventure is what happened after surviving. That is what I would like to share with you here.

They said I would never ride a horse again.

Seriously? Yes.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

Anything else they could have said may have written my future, but that statement? That wasn’t something I could even conceive of.

Master Guide Terry Overly flew his Cessna 206 into Anchorage’s Merrill Field Airport, the largest small aircraft airport in the world, to pick me up after 67 days recovering from double gunshot wounds to both thighs and my right knee.

I could walk. Barely.

My Miracle Horseback Adventure

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My Miracle Horseback Adventure

We flew straight back into Chisana where at that time, little more than half of the last hunt remained in our Fall Big Game Hunting Season.

We arrived, I cried a little and went home to bed. The next day, Terry helped me get into the Super-cub, which was a little beyond my range of movement at that point, and we headed out to one of our moose camps.

It was still very early and when we landed and couple of the guides came out to meet the plane.

These were the first of my team I had seen since the vaguely remembered visits, from a few of the guides that fly into Anchorage to guide for Pioneer Outfitters in the Fall, while I was still in intensive care.

Yeah, it was a little of an emotional reunion for a few moments.

Walking back to the cook-cabin, which was the home-base for this camp, we joined the crew and guests for breakfast and updates.

As we chatted and listened, it was obvious everyone was in good spirits and the Alaska-Yukon Moose were moving well into the rut.

As we finished helping clean up breakfast and packing the day’s lunches, we walked out to see the riders off for the day’s hunt.

I slowly made my way out and off the porch to see one of our guides standing there holding a big horse named Woody, saddled with my saddle.

What?

Then, another guide walked up holding a horse with Terry’s big monster black saddle on it and it dawned on me, what they had done.

I looked around and the hunters were all standing there, quiet, next to their horses, watching me. All the guides and wranglers were there, standing inside the ring of horses, waiting, watching to see what I would do or say.

This was it. To put my foot in the stirrup wasn’t the hardest part, the hardest part was looking at that stirrup, hanging about bellybutton high. It might have been ten feet high, it looked so impossible.

Knowing, deep inside and throughout my self, that this was my future, the crossroads that all the events and choices I had made up until now had been leading to.

Woody was a big horse, even before I was so damaged. My stirrup seemed impossibly high.

As I reached up to gather his reigns in my hand, with a handful of his mane, Woody bowed his enormous head and just stood next to me, not moving any part of his body.

The pain wasn’t shocking, it had been present in every breath for so long at that point, it seemed it had always been part of me.

It was the lack of my own body’s response that was almost overwhelming.

Re-learning how to walk, I was taught to focus on lifting my feet and the seemingly simple movement forward to take a step. Shifting my weight to my toes was not a natural move. I would have to stand on the leg with the bullet so freshly imbedded into my knee, and raise up onto my toes of that foot, to be tall enough to put my other foot into the stirrup. The foot attached to the leg now missing half of the quadriceps that the bullet destroyed.

Looking up, with my hand on the reigns, standing next to Woody, I saw everyone holding so still, they seemed to be holding their breath. Waiting to see what I would do.

With tears in my eyes, I lifted once, twice, three times and there! I put my booted toe into the stirrup. No lift. The quad wasn’t strong enough.

Tightening my grip on his mane, I pulled, lifting only with my upper body strength, which was amazingly strong, thanks to rehab.

Then there was a hand behind me and Terry was there. Gently helping me lift and swing my leg over the saddle to sit.

The tears running down my face made no difference to the people gathered nearby. Smiles, pats, thumbs up and nods each place I looked.

I looked down to Terry standing next to me on the ground and he put his hand up to my leg and asked “Want to go hunting?” with a smile on his face.

We did.

Out of all the different Adventures I have been on and participated in, that one is my “Big” one.

The day I knew I would ride. Whatever else came or changed would come or change, but this, this was mine.

We would love for you to have an Adventure of a Lifetime with us and our horses. Maybe you will find your miracle here too.

If you want to know more about me, Alaska Chick, check out this page:

Amber-Lee Dibble

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4 Responses to “My Miracle Horseback Adventure”

  1. Ann Jane says:

    Sniff..wipe..wipe..that’s my Bff! Fearless! In all ways!

    `*~AJ

    • Alaska Chick says:

      Aww!
      I wasn’t much Fearless back at that point, but it was certainly the beginning.
      Thank you for always being here for me, Ann.

      As I was working last night, I came across this one in draft. It was a very long time ago, …but the whole of it, when I do more than brush over the details, is still hard.. I put it away after writing this piece out. I couldn’t post it after writing it. Somewhere in the mess of posts is what happened that day to change the world I lived in, but I haven’t come across it yet.

      When I saw this one, I thought of another friend and and the terrible helplessness she must have felt and knew it was time to share it.
      As for my “support system” ~ They are pretty wonderful. Much annoying most of the time, but strong as steal when the world shakes. I had returned home to a massive weight system bench so that I could continue with my rehab- they had it all put together, sitting in the middle of the Lodge! And there it stayed for 3 years! (The boys were relentless with their pushing.)

      The older ones of the Team took it upon themselves (please remember that I was much younger than most still at this time, so there was no arguing.) to work on my marksmanship and getting over the terrible “flinching” when a gun would fire.
      And yes- the first gun I had to shoot was an identical Ruger 44 to the one that destroyed my legs.

      • Ann Jane says:

        See “Be Fearless” isn’t really a new thing at all..I know you wrote and told me lots about that time..Scary..but Yes..you not only had a team then but Family! You’ve just carried the tradition ..if that’s what it can be called..on. To teach all of us and those who have followed you..and learned from what you’ve learned..be it from fat away..or right there in your “bubble” LOL That might be the Scary part. :)

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