Local News

September 22, 2013

‘What I love to do’

Smith can’t stay away from horses despite serious injury

For the second time in his life Nick Smith found himself hanging upside down, unable to move, scared and unsure of what was about to happen.

The first time was several years ago, just two days after turning 21 in 2004. It was a freak farming accident where Smith was twisted up in an auger after his jacket and left arm got caught.

Doctors told him not only would he never walk again, but he’d never ride a horse again either. He couldn’t move his left arm and his legs, and he barely had any grip left in his hands. His balance was off. He was labeled a C-7 quadriplegic. The injury to his spine left his body unable to regulate temperature, meaning he can’t even sweat.

So how would he be able to control a horse? He couldn’t use his legs or feet to help him steady himself in the stirrups, could barely put his hands around the reins to guide the horse. The movement in his left arm returned about two years after the accident, but the grip was still a problem.

It took three years, but Smith found a way to ride a horse again. He designed a saddle that straps him onto the horse and supports his back, and found someone to make it. He relies on other people to hoist him onto the horse, strap him in and stand nearby in case there are any problems, then take him down again when he’s done with his ride.

Smith had already proven doctors wrong, that yes, he would ride again.

Now here he was nine years later, this year, hanging upside down helplessly for the second time — this time from the stomach of a horse.

Smith had insisted on entering competitions again and was at a training for cutting when it happened. In cutting competitions the rider and horse hold their ground to block a cow from rejoining its herd. It takes a lot of quick movements and turns, precision and the ability to maneuver swiftly.

Most of his family members weren’t keen on the idea of seeing him tackle cutting so his 25-year-old brother, Dylan Langford, went with him to the training facility — somewhere in Georgia or Tennessee. Details are hazy.

“It’s nerve-racking,” Langford said. “I never know if I’ve got him fixed in tight enough. When I put him on or Matthew (Smith, 19, also a brother) puts him on, we pray nothing happens.”

Langford said everything went well for most of the training session, but Smith’s saddle rotated about 10 minutes before the session was to end.

Though Smith was scared, which he expressed in colorful terms, it didn’t stop him from climbing on a horse again.

“When I’m on a horse is when I have my confidence,” Smith explained. “It’s the closest thing to feeling like I’m walking again.”

In a wheelchair, Smith is confined by terrain. He struggles on rocks, mud and hills. There is an abundance of those things around the stables where Nick Smith Quarter Horses, his business of the last four years, is located in southern Murray County.

“Riding is freedom,” he said. “In a wheelchair, I’m limited by my terrain ... but on a horse, it’s not a problem. They are my legs.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Bugs and Kisses 1 mlh.jpg Local stores expect tax holiday to create lots of sales

    Local retailers say Georgia’s sales tax holiday weekends mean big business for them, and they are gearing up to capitalize on this year’s tax-free shopping on Friday and Saturday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Esme file mw 2.jpg Still fighting

    Ten-year-old Esme Miller was celebrated earlier this year for the way she’s handled a bout with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historical photos of Murray County needed

    Maybe you have a photograph of a well-known preacher from the 1940s. Or maybe you have a photograph taken of a church choir from the 1920s.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DOT wants your input on transportation needs

    As state and national leaders consider alternatives for funding future transportation needs, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to know what Georgians would like in their 21st century transportation system and how they recommend paying for it.

    July 30, 2014

  • Jail for Justice Tour event here tonight

    The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will host an event in partnership with the Georgia Dreamers Alliance, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA), Whitfield NAACP and the Whitfield County Democratic Party at Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center tonight from 5 to 9.

    July 30, 2014

  • Two charged with tampering with evidence in drug investigation

    Two people have been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the synthetic marijuana bust in February involving a Dalton business owner.

    July 30, 2014

  • Beaulieu to close operations for one week for inventory

    Floorcovering giant Beaulieu of America will conduct a physical inventory of its buildings and facilities next week, with only salaried employees reporting for work.

    July 30, 2014

  • Green spot closing 1 mlh.jpg A part of the family

    Larry Green can’t remember the exact date. But he says it was about 54 years ago when his father Marvin took him to see the new store he and his brother Herman had commissioned Red Jennings to build at 309 W. Emery St. in Dalton.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • New high school?

    The only means for “staying small” and preserving “The Dalton Way” in Dalton Public Schools may be through expansion, Superintendent Jim Hawkins said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bond denied for man arrested in synthetic marijuana bust

    A Dalton business owner charged in a synthetic marijuana bust was denied bond Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014