Alison Leclerc The Carolinas Equestrian Photo by AMW PhotographyIn today’s world, all of us know that traumatic things can happen in an instant. But nothing brings that home like it happening to a friend or neighbor, especially while they’re doing some unremarkable thing you often do yourself.

Such is the case with Tryon-area trainer Alison Leclerc, who sustained serious injuries while riding in June. She is a lifetime rider who competes in hunter/humper classes, working with her own and clients’ horses. Alison was schooling an experienced show horse on the flat when the horse was apparently startled by something and unseated Alison. What could have been a “no big deal” fall was instead a freak accident that fractured several vertebrae in Alison’s neck.

Within minutes Alison was stabilized by emergency responders and taken by ambulance to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Emergency facility, about 20 minutes away. There she was operated on to stabilize her neck.

Soon after Alison’s surgery in Spartanburg, she was accepted as a patient at the renowned Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a private not-for-profit hospital specializing in treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord or brain injuries.

The Tryon horse community jumped in both physically and financially to support Alison. Clients and volunteers took over horse and barn duties, and many others made donations toward Alison’s care, including at a Benefit Dinner and Online Auction that raised about $20,000. And that didn’t come from just friends, peers and clients who know her for “always having a smile for everyone,” “a pleasant outlook and strong work ethic,” “an amazing commitment to the horses and their training,” and “a steady hard-working attitude that makes you want to be a better person.” Equestrian professionals, businesses and strangers from around the country also took part in the auction and made contributions toward Alison’s care. Liza Boyd of Camden, current World Champion Hunter Rider Pro Final Winner, donated a lesson package for the auction and when she heard how popular it was, donated two more.

A 90-second YouTube video will amaze you with the technology supporting Alison and the determination and spirit she shows while working toward recovery.

During Alison’s five months as a medical patient at Shepherd, and in their Day Program and “Beyond Therapy” Program, she has made good progress with her upper body, continuing to gain movement and dexterity in arms, hands and fingers. Her lower body is a bigger challenge. Alison remains partially paralyzed but continues to to work hard on recovery through swimming, and movement exercises with a powered exo-skeleton and treadmill that combine to preserve muscle memory and “re-teach” nerves how to fire and to generate movement.

Alison is a responsible professional who had medical insurance. But some things – including her ongoing physical therapy – aren’t covered by insurance. Knowing that her bills would continue to mount, some of Alison’s friends and the local non-profit group “Our Carolinas Foothills” teamed up to produce a 2019 calendar featuring the beautiful hand-painted ART OF THE HORSE statues that had been created by celebrated equine artists to decorate the Tryon area during and since the World Equestrian Games. These new ART OF THE HORSE calendars are now being sold with 100% of proceeds going to support Alison’s medical and therapy needs. The goal is to sell these beautiful calendars in the Carolinas and beyond, through horse communities and others.

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100% of all sales proceeds from ART OF THE HORSE Calendars will support Alison’s medical and therapy needs. Ordering info at end of article.

You can help a fellow rider by buying and sharing ART OF THE HORSE Calendars, at $20 each, as gifts for friends, family, clients and customers. Order them through the Our Carolinas Foothills website at www.ourcarolinafoothills.com. And spread the word that these calendars make great gifts, while helping give the gift of mobility back to a rider like us.