Before his spinal injury, one of Smith’s favorite activities was breaking a horse, which is a process of teaching it how to be ridden and follow commands. When a horse comes to his stable, many times he needs someone else to begin the process for him.
“It’s aggravating at times,” Smith said. “I can’t break a horse anymore, but under my guidance, someone else does it for me. I’m strapped to a horse so I can’t take a chance on a horse that’s not seasoned.”
Sometimes it takes eight months before Smith feels comfortable enough climbing on a horse. The horse has to be gentle.
“If you’re looking for a horse, aren’t you going to be more comfortable with getting a horse from a guy who’s paralyzed and strapped to it?” Smith asked. “The biggest thing that separates me from other (trainers) is that I have to put my horse through extra steps because I’m paralyzed.”
Returning to riding for Smith meant a lot of “flopping around” as he adjusted to not being able to hold his body up well.
“The more I ride the better my balance gets,” he said. “I take pride in it. This is what I love to do, and the doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. The day you stop striving is the day you start going downhill.”