Pony Glam had a chance to chat with 15 year old, Lily Rhodes. Lily hails from Oklahoma and has been riding for as long as she can remember. Currently she rides her Haflinger, Prince Pippen aka Prince, who she competes with in Dressage. Lily affectionately calls Prince, "the love of her life". I first noticed Lily and Prince on Instagram where Lily has been very outspoken of her love for all things sparkly, especially my main product Hoof Hi-Lites! I happened to click on her username and I was personally very inspired by her page, her large following and her overwhelming positivity in light of a situation that I (someone twice her age) would not have handled with such grace. I thought Chloe's friends would benefit from Lily's light as much as I did, so I asked her if she would be part of Chloe's Chatter!
PG: Hi Lily! Thank you so much for chatting with Pony Glam today. Let's just get the pink unicorn out of the room… You are an avid, young equestrian that has one arm due to a freak, non-horse related accident roughly a year ago. Many people would have shut down after such a loss, but instead you were literally back in the saddle as soon as you could be. Even more, you have always been so positive. Can you tell us what that was like?
LR: Not easy, I'll tell you that! For a while, I was quite scared. After being through something like that, your body almost shuts down. I'm not quite sure how to explain it. All I knew is that I couldn't get hurt again. Those nervous feelings all changed when I was able to see Pippen again. I went up to him, and he just sniffed what remained of my right arm. Then he stepped back, and gave me the most heartbreaking look. It was like he knew. He felt my pain. When I was able to get back on, he treated me like a child. He was so careful with me. If it wasn't for my wonderful pony, I don't know if I would have been able to get back on a horse. I just have to stay positive, I can't help it. I came so close to bleeding to death, but I didn't. That is something to be positive about.
PG: I see pictures of you riding, even jumping, and looking fantastic. I imagine it took a lot of practice and strong will to be able to come back like that. Even learning how to put on the saddle with one arm must have been very tough. Have you ever had moments where you just thought "it is too hard" or that you wanted to give up? How did you work through these?
LR: In all honesty, I have had moments, even days like that. I remember one ride, breaking down and crying into Pippen's neck. I just wasn't strong enough to control him. Pippin is very heavy on the bit, and I just couldn't handle it anymore. What kept me going was simply the fact I was alive. The fact that the vehicle had landed where it did, instead of killing me instantly. The fact that I had a wonderfully supportive family that did everything in their power to make me feel better. The fact that I own a horse, that I know loves me. That is what keeps me going when times get tough.
PG: Your Instagram page is filled with equestrian admirers that look to you for inspiration. Many comment that you gave them the courage and the encouragement to keep riding. What would you like your followers to know? What is your advice for riders and non-riders alike?
LR: Yes, I receive tons of encouragement daily, and it is honestly incredible. I just want my followers to know that I am so incredibly thankful for every single one of them. All of the sweet comments and DM's I receive make me so happy. My advice to riders and non-riders alike, would be to never give up. No matter how dark things seem now, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Things will always get better, it may just take time.
PG: You have recently posted some images of a prosthetic arm and hand. Can you tell us about that?
LR: Oh yes, I am so excited to be receiving it! Just being able to try it on was such a cool experience. It has a fully functional hand and wrist. I move individual fingers, rotate my wrist, and change my grip all by moving the muscles in my nub. It is quite interesting!
PG: Besides the obvious, how has your accident changed your outlook on life?
LR: My accident taught me to appreciate things we take for granted. Never did I imagine I would loose my dominant arm and hand. Now I appreciate what my body can do much more.
PG: What is next for you and Prince Pippen? Do you have any big goals for 2016?
LR: I have very big goals for 2016. The first being not to lose anymore limbs! We are actually currently looking for a new horse to begin my para dressage journey with. We are keeping Pippen, it can just be very difficult to ride him because of how heavy he is. I plan on doing many dressage shows this season, including a very big show on the one year anniversary of my accident. I am really looking forward to this year.
Thank you, Lily, for answering my questions. You are an inspiration to us all! We will cheer you on in 2016 and I am proud that Pony Glam Hoof Hi-Lites will be along for the ride! xoxo