Amy McCraken always had a deep love for horses and as a child saved any money she could to take riding lessons. But as a teenager, she spent most of her time as a competitive cyclist–leaving little time for horses. As an adult, McCraken formed her own business, ‘Evergreen Custom Media.’ It wasn’t until the age of 38 did she return to her passion for riding horses.
She began competing in 2005 as a jumper and quickly worked her way up the ranks. Showing up to six weeks a year and riding up to five times a week. Unfortunately, 2007 started off with being injured while riding. During the accident she landed on her feet, causing her right ankle, tibia, and fibula to break. Essentially shattering her leg.
For 7 years, McCraken recovered from 12 different surgeries in hopes of saving her leg. None of which worked. Through it all, with casts and all, she continued to ride and compete. The final surgery was completed in 2014, amputating her leg below the knee. Due to complications she held off on riding until the end of 2015.
McCraken competed for the first time in 3 years just this past week, taking home a second place finish. For the next two weeks she and her horse will compete, hoping to move back up to her previous level by the end of the season.
What is most inspiring about McCraken’s return is that she is competing without the aid of any prosthetic devices. Doctors told her it could take up to a year for a “riding prosthetic” to be made, but McCraken was having no part of that. Saying she “never felt fear” while riding after the accident without one. Making her feel like a more effective rider. But also fearing she wouldn’t have as much control of the prosthetic and it bothering her horse. Spoken like a true equestrian.
“Find a way! Don’t listen to the doctors who tell you that you should just be happy to walk. Find a way. Just start where you are, do something today, and then add a little more tomorrow. Keep going.”
The riding has been great physical therapy for McCraken, even helping build up muscle lost during surgeries. Uncommon with these types of injuries. She’s become a better rider with stronger balance, seat and thighs.
Not only did McCraken have to relearn how to ride, but her horse had to learn to take cues a different way. Trainers worked on picking up a trot and canter with a squeeze of the thighs instead of the heels. Her horses caught on quickly. McCraken is very grateful to the trainers and her horses for working so hard and is excited to continue her competing career.