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Success Story: Deb P.


Deb focused on what she could do, not what she couldn’t do. We helped her invest in herself and her future.

I started at AFS almost 5 years when I was looking to improve my horseback riding. I was already riding several days per week but knew that if I was asking my horse to be fit and strong then I needed to do the same.  With improved fitness and strength came better riding and more confidence.

Over the years, going to the gym has become routine. Whether it is AFS or my other gym where I do my supplemental workouts, it is a non-negotiable in my week.  I’m not saying that I go skipping into the gym every time I go (okay, maybe I do) but I give it my all every time. I leave each workout energized and ready to take on the day.  I’m investing in myself and my future; what is more important and than that?!

Over the years I’ve had my share of injuries but nothing compared to what happened late last fall.

November 21st, 2015 started off like most Saturday mornings do: breakfast, gym and then off to the barn to ride. Everything was going great until my horse spooked and we had a parting of ways. My horse, Odie, veered to the left while I fell to the right, landing with almost all my weight on my outstretched right hand and arm.

At the ER the x-rays showed multiple fractures; my initial reaction was of great frustration. As I sat there, my frustration turned to resolve: instead of feeling sorry for myself, I thought, “What positives could I take from this situation? What can I learn from this?”  From my emergency room bed I called AFS and asked the front desk staff to let my practitioner (Sawyer) know that I had fractured my arm and that I’d need a lift for Monday morning without any upper body movements.

A trip to the Orthopedic surgeon a couple days later revealed a comminuted distal radius fracture (aka the force of impact splintered my bone into multiple fragments), an ulnar fracture and damage to my middle finger. Nine days after the fall I headed to the operating room where my radius was internally fixed with a plate and screws; two weeks post-op I was starting occupational therapy. Thirteen weeks and three days after falling I was cleared to resume all activities including riding and full body workouts (as pain allowed).  One year out from surgery I was able to accomplish my goal–lifting the weights I had been lifting a year prior–and doing my first pull-up! I’ve been back in the saddle riding since the day after I was cleared and I continue to ride and train my horses 4-5x/week.

My motivation: 

  • My passion for horseback riding and the desire to continually improve and excel at what I love doing!
  • The great and accomplished feeling I get with consistent exercise.
  • Ability I have to influence and inspire others. I give it my all every time because you never know who is watching and who you may be inspiring.
  • Investing in my health for years to come.

The Lessons I’ve Learned:

Accept the situation-no matter how many times you run through the incident in your mind you won’t change what happened. Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t do. I couldn’t do a single upper body exercise…but I could squat. My range of motion and squat form had never been great, so here was the PERFECT opportunity for me to work on it. I’ve come back with better form, deeper squats, and can even lift heavier than before the accident.

As I recovered from this injury I realized that I had a team of people that I needed to utilize (orthopedic surgeon, occupational therapist, massage therapist, AFS staff) through my recovery but in the end I was the one who would determine how well my recovery would go.  I had to make sure I followed orders, I had to do those exercises prescribed by occupational therapy, and I had to be determined but patient in my timing.

Don’t let expectations of your recovery define your recovery. I was told that I would most likely have a limited range of motion and activities would be restricted. Less than 1 year out I was restriction free with a full range of motion.

Keep up the good food prepping/planning habits! Even one handed I still food prepped every weekend, though some plans had to be altered as it just wasn’t possible to prepare some of the dishes with just one hand, but others were quite simple. Through good food planning & prep I maintained my weight over the entire recovery.

DON’T give up on yourself! You are capable of amazing feats and can encourage and inspire others even through difficult circumstances.

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