Two weeks ago today, my coach Amy Barrington suffered a serious traumatic brain injury as the result of a riding accident. Please read and, if you can, help.
Top photo: From the Amy Barrington Recovery Page on Facebook
Every day for the past two weeks, I’ve sat down and stared at a blank white screen, trying to to think of something to write about my coach Amy Barrington. And every day I’ve felt like all the words have been sucked out of my body. As a writer, you’re always searching out the narrative in things. You piece together bits of information until they start resembling something meaningful–everything happens for a reason. But in the wake of Amy’s accident, I’ve not been able to find that thread. I just don’t understand. How could such a terrible thing happen to such an undeserving person?
Amy is one of the most careful eventers I know. She always wears a helmet. She takes her time developing both horses and riders. She would never give you the green light to move up a level a day before you were ready. In the five years I have ridden with her, never once has she pointed me toward a question she wasn’t 100% confident my horse and I could answer. I talked to Amy on the phone a couple days before her accident and the last thing I said to her was “Good luck,” with regard to Southern Pines H.T., which she was heading to over the weekend. But Amy doesn’t rely on luck–she relies on being prepared.
Photo by KC Betzel
Unfortunately, there are things in life we can’t prepare for. Sometimes we get blindsided. Everything we know can change, faster than the blink of an eye. Accidents happen, and we may never get an explanation of why or what it’s all supposed to mean. The best any of us can do is throw ourselves wholeheartedly into making the best of whatever hand we’ve been dealt.
These are the facts: Amy is tough. Both physically and mentally, she’s strong. She’s got the biggest course of her life in front of her, but Amy WILL get the job done, because that is what Amy does. After a week of touch-and-go progress, Amy took a huge step forward on Tuesday, opening her eyes for the first time since the accident. Her husband Greg, who has been so wonderful about keeping everyone informed, reported in his daily update, “She saw me, Ben and many of her best friends. She expressed emotion. It is evident that all the prayers, energy, karma and whatever it is that the animals send out, is bringing her back to us.”
One of Amy’s students, Jill Decker, brought a pair of rubber reins to the hospital, hoping their familiarity would elicit a response: “The left hand purposefully latched onto them and you could certainly see the fingers grappling to find the correct hold. As I positioned the rein under her thumb and between her pinkie and ring finger, she held it!”
The groundswell of support that has lifted Amy up these past two weeks is nothing short of incredible. From keeping the barn up and running to raising over $30,000 toward Amy’s medical expenses (you can make a tax-deductible donation here), it is clear that the eventing community takes care of its own. For updates on the latest fundraising efforts and ways you can contribute, “like” the Amy Barrington Recovery Page on Facebook here. The page itself is a phenomenon, a sprawling get-well card full of positive energy and prayers and personal accounts of how Amy has touched so many lives. Truly, it is a reflection of Amy’s own generous spirit.
Michele Mallonee shared this photo of “Ride for Amy” bracelets on Facebook with the note, “Ponies and Friends…ALL IN! GO AMY!!!!”
Yesterday, Amy was transported to the Sheperd Center in Atlanta, where she’ll receive the best care possible from brain injury specialists. She’s got a long, hard journey ahead of her, but we’ll be with her every step of the way.
We need you back, coach. I need you back. Grab mane and kick. We’re all waiting for you on the other side.