The month of March recognizes both Women’s History and Brain Injury Awareness and we have a special story that connects both of these topics to Main Stay. This amazing story is shared by Brittany Giannoni, one of Main Stay’s riding instructors. Many of our readers probably know Brittany and the many talents she brings to Main Stay both inside and outside of the arena, but you may not know what inspired her to become a therapeutic riding instructor. You can read her story below:
“I was riding in a horse show in 2010, when the horse I was riding had a bad crash over a jump. Even though I was wearing a helmet, the accident left me with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). After weeks in the hospital and months of intensive therapies, I was finally able to return to living my full life, including my passion riding horses!
My first memories are weeks after the accident. I was at an inpatient rehabilitation program. I did not understand what had happened to me, where I was at, or if this were even my “real life” or just a really “bad dream” that I would wake up from. These are the scariest memories of my life. I could not understand the deficits I experienced. I just remember people were telling me I was acting differently. Commonly, abilities like self-control and decision making are affected by brain injuries. Although I was experiencing these, I did not understand and my world felt incredibly frustrating. Unless you have lived these experiences first-hand, it’s impossible to explain the terror. This experience gave me a huge amount of empathy for people in similar situations.
All I wanted to do was return to my life as it was prior to the accident. I worked at a stable where I was riding horses every day. I just wanted to ride again! During almost every therapy session, my various therapists had to listen to me telling them all about my desire to “just ride”. Riding was my most deep motivation to complete every activity and exercise that I was given. After a few months, I was able to ride again. Regaining the opportunity to ride brought unimaginable joy back into my life.
Although I was unable to receive therapeutic riding services during my recovery, I was miraculously fortunate to return to the sport I loved. A couple years later at college, I learned about Recreational Therapy and Therapeutic Riding. Knowing the incredible joy that riding has brought to my life, I was so excited to learn that I could help bring this experience to people who may not otherwise have the access or opportunity to ride horses! I feel so very lucky for the outcome of my injury. It has been an honor to bring the joy of horses to many others, including those with the same diagnosis as mine.”