Follow-Up Friday: From Overcoming a Rodeo Injury to Running a Half-Marathon

By Jade Waddy

Four years ago, Tara Fox suffered a number of severe injuries while participating in a local rodeo series in her hometown.

Tara and her horse, Cross, had cleared the first barrel of their race and were halfway through the second barrel, when Cross began to head straight toward the alleyway instead of finishing the barrel pattern. The surprising turn caused Tara to lose her balance and she began sliding down the side of the saddle.

As the duo made their way into the alleyway, Tara dangled from the left side of her horse, still holding on to the reins. Seconds later, she fell off and landed on the cattle chute gate, crushing an important part of her fifth spinal vertebrae, the transverse process.

“I remember everyone telling me to straighten my legs and I couldn’t,” Tara said.

Tara’s injuries included lumbar and sacral fractures, a collapsed lung, broken right side ribs, a scapula fracture and multiple pelvis fractures.  Local emergency medical services (EMS) called for Memorial Hermann Life Flight® to transport Tara to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. Two weeks later she spent a week doing inpatient rehabilitation in the rehabilitation unit at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, a member of the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network affiliated with TIRR Memorial Hermann.

Tara remembers being unable to straighten her legs the day of her injury and the challenges she was told she could face on her road to recovery. Despite her setbacks, she remained determined to keep moving and give her all in her recovery. While in physical therapy, Tara’s team of therapists focused on upper and lower body strength exercises. She continued to do exercises learned in therapy once she was discharged home and nearly six months after her accident, she was able to ride again.  

“I competed in my first half marathon nearly three years after my injury and that was special because at one point I thought I wasn’t going to be able to run anymore after my injury,” Tara said. “My next goal is to run a full marathon.”

In December 2018, Tara graduated from Sam Houston State University with her degree in pre-veterinarian medicine.

“Since I’ve been back home, I’ve visited several rodeos with my family and I’m even considering entering a few rodeos again,” she said.

As Tara considers whether to hop back into the saddle, she’s focused on applying to veterinarian school and achieving her dreams of being a veterinarian and taking care of the horses and other animals she has always loved.

“I’m thankful for my entire treatment team for believing in me and pushing me during those inpatient and outpatient days and playing a critical role in my recovery,” Tara said.

Learn more about the specialized network of care that helped Tara recover at Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network.

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