Smith admits he still has bad days, but he realizes how many people love and support him.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said.
Langford and Matthew Smith, who is quiet and preferred to stay on the fringes of the conversation, help their older brother around the stables. None are biological brothers, but it would be hard to know that witnessing the way they interact in that loving yet aggravating way siblings act toward one another.
Langford and Matthew Smith stay within earshot of Nick Smith, though at times they respond with “I’m not here right now” when he has another request. They make sure the horses are taken care of and make sure he has all he needs. They lift Smith, a 200-pound man, up on his horse, they make sure he’s secure, and then take him back down again when he’s through riding. They bring him his wheelchair, turn on a fan to help his body temperature cool back down after being out in the heat, and toss him a drink — prompting a little bantering about it not being cold.
Someone has to stay near Smith in case he passes out, which is what happens since he cannot regulate his body temperature through sweating. He says there are weeks during the worst heat of the summer when he passes out four or five times a week. His brothers help rouse him again.
Smith and his brothers argue, and he admits he is rather bossy at times.
So why do they do it?
“I love him,” Langford said. “I’ve looked up to him since I was little. Me and Matthew are his legs.”
Smith says he’s tried to get them to go “live their own lives.” He realizes they’re young.
“Dylan had to give up a lot of his life to help me,” he said. “Neither he nor Matthew had much of a teenage life. I told them go ... When you get paralyzed, you can’t say, ‘I don’t need anybody.’ I do need them.”