(ABC4 News – Spanish Fork, UT) The professional rodeo rider in front of me humbly said; “Miracles happen…Miracles happen.”
Life experiences shape who we are. Braxten Nielsen is grateful he grew up on a farm in Roosevelt, Utah. He told me; “It’s taught me to work hard. It’s taught me to be resilient and responsible. I’m grateful for that opportunity in a small town like that.”
Braxten has compete as bareback rider in over 150 rodeos. I asked him what it was like the first time he got on a bucking bronco. “I made my 8 second ride. Right then and there I said, that’s what I want to do. This is what I want to become is a bareback rider” he said.
Rodeo is a humbling sport. Braxten described it this way; “I think rodeo has been one of the most mentally tough sports I’ve honestly done.”
Let’s face it, it’s a dangerous sport as well. Unfortunately, Braxten described this first-hand; “The circumstance was a little different this time. The horse sat down in the chute. Rared over and it broke my back. My T12 and my L1, paralyzing me from the waist down. Very humbling experience.”
The accident has left it’s mark. Braxten has 5 fused vertebra, 2 rods, 8 screws, numbness in his right leg and can’t feel his left foot…but as he puts it, miracles happen.
The amazing thing is that the interview was in a riding barn in Spanish Fork…and Braxten was standing in front of me. The doctors gave him a 5% chance to ever walk again. He told me; “It’s definitely different, but I’m walking. I’ll take every little inch and I’m okay with it.”
Braxten Nielsen’s inspiring journey redefines the expression ‘Getting Back on the Horse’. Less than 2 years since his accident, he is now competing in calf roping.
He was sporting a pretty nice buckle. These buckles are basically the trophies of the rodeo sport. He told me about this specific buckle, with a big grin. “It’s pretty sentimental. this one in particular, I won after my accident. It’s a team roping buckle. It kinda took the heartbreak off bareback riding.”
The road to recovery has given Braxten the motivation to share his story and help others. What is his message? He told me; “I truly believe that hard work will never cheat you. Attitude is everything. It will take you places you never though were possible.”
These stories deserve to be told. These are Utah Caring Stories. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.
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