32: The Fall

32: The Fall

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

The Fall

One thing you can say for guardian angels: they guard. They give warning when danger approaches.

~Emily Hahn

My friend and I sat bareback on our horses in the middle of the arena, having just enjoyed a ride. The musky scent of the animals lingered in the breeze, which smelled delicious on a Friday evening after a long work week. We were chatting — the easy, relaxed, sometimes meaningless talk that two old friends can have.

“Do you want to try to meet up again this weekend to ride?” Melissa asked.

“That sounds good,” I said and prepared to dismount. Just then, both of our horses bolted forward at top speed. I was tossed forward on Star’s neck. I grabbed onto his mane and held tight. The two horses reached the end of the arena and made a sudden turn. I lost my balance, flew over Star’s shoulder, and slammed into the ground. I tried to stand up quickly to tell Melissa I was okay and to see how she was. But, strangely, I couldn’t stand.

I heard a man’s voice in my right ear. Get down and cover your head with your hands. I turned to see who was there, but instead saw the two horses galloping straight toward me. In their blind panic, I knew they wouldn’t see me. I simply did what I was instructed to do. I bent over my legs and covered the back of my head with my arms and hands, just like we practiced for tornadoes in grade school.

I could hear the thunder of hooves, and then felt them pound into my back. The air in my lungs was forcibly expelled like a bellows with each foot contact. I stayed that way until Melissa’s voice drifted over. She was talking to the horses, trying to calm them. I sat up and observed that she had caught both of them. My fingers touched my forehead and, much to my surprise, they felt warm and sticky. I looked at them in disbelief.

Melissa was suddenly beside me.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“My hip hurts, and I’m bleeding,” I said. “Are you okay?”

“I fell off right behind you,” Melissa said. “I’m fine. Let’s go in the house and get you cleaned up.”

Melissa helped me walk across the arena into John’s house. He was the owner of the barn and lived in an apartment attached to the stable. My hip hurt when I walked, and my back felt like it was on fire. John and Melissa helped me clean up my face.

“You’ll need stitches in your forehead,” John said.

He sat me in a chair in his kitchen. He called my husband to let him know that I should go to the ER. As we waited for my husband Ken to arrive, we talked about what happened. Neither Melissa nor I knew what had startled the horses so badly.

“John, if you hadn’t told me to get down and cover my head, I’m sure I wouldn’t be sitting here in your kitchen,” I said.

John and Melissa looked at me, puzzled, and Melissa corrected me. “It was just us in the arena, Amy. John was inside the whole time.”

“Then who told me that?” I asked. They both looked at me worriedly, thinking I must have really hit my head.

Ken arrived at that moment. He and John carried me to the car because I had stiffened up and wasn’t able to walk on my own. We were in the ER the entire night and didn’t get out until it was just turning light. The X-rays showed I had a fractured pelvis. The MRI revealed a hairline fracture in my cheekbone. There were several bruises, clear as tattoos of hooves on my back, and I got stitches to close the wound in my forehead. Amazingly, I did not have a concussion.

“It would have been a lot worse,” said the doctor, “if you hadn’t had the sense to duck and cover. Those hoof prints would have been on your head, and it could have caused permanent damage or even a fatal injury.”

I knew he was right. I had received guidance from someone outside the earthly plane.

“Thank you,” I whispered to my angel.

As soon as I was healed enough to be able to get out of the house on my own, I bought a riding helmet.

“This is so you won’t have to worry so much when I ride,” I told my guardian angel with a smile.

Now before every ride, I invite my angel to come along. I feel blessed to be able to still climb into the saddle. My scar and the stiffness in my hip remind me always of the help I received from above.

~Amy Rovtar Payne

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