Injury to inspiration
As far as Smith and his family can tell, he’s the first quadriplegic to show in horse competitions. And, yes, he participates in cutting competitions. He is also a licensed auctioneer and horse trainer, and he sells horses.
“I have to prove I can still go out there and compete,” he said. “I want to break that barrier. Sometimes if something’s different you treat it differently, but I don’t want to be treated differently.”
Smith struggles financially to accomplish all he wishes to do. He has goals to share his story, to show people not to let anything hold them back. He’s been invited to speak and give demonstration rides, but cannot always afford the travel costs, even when the organization asking him to speak and show pays for part of them.
“If I had been able to even look on the Internet and find someone going through what I was, life wouldn’t have sucked so badly,” Smith said. “Seeing someone or hearing someone would have helped.”
For a long time, Smith struggled to come to terms with who he had become after the accident.
“When I got hurt, was I mad at God? Yeah,” he said. “I used to think why did this not happen to a serial killer or a rapist. A man who had been a paraplegic for 50 years came to me and said, ‘If that happened, what impact would it have?’ God’s not done with me yet. The relationship I have with him now is so much more personal. Without him, there’s no way I would make it.
“I have so many goals,” he said. “What better gift than to travel and see people, and hopefully inspire them, even regular people who are just down on life.”