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The rest of
my story

Finding courage.

I’ve always said that there is no horse that I’m afraid to get on. It’s the consequences of how I get off that’s the problem.


Memorial Day 2013. We were hosting a clinic at our ranch in western Colorado. The activity was team penning. The instructor had borrowed my retired reining horse who is very talented, but also very hot and self-willed. Even though I explained those traits to the instructor when I agreed to let him ride this gelding, he wasn’t properly warmed up and was tacked with a heavy roping saddle and a bosal, which were totally foreign to my sensitive reining equine. The event of the day ended up being short a rider so I was asked to fill in – using my horse, whose name, by the way, is SPOOK. Spook was improperly prepared, and I knew it. Yet, not wanting to call out the instructor in front of the group or delay the clinic, I got on. Yes, I did that, regardless of the fact that I knew it was the wrong thing to do.


First go, chasing a steer, Spook bucked me off. I brushed off the dirt, checked for body damage, and got back on. Second go, OK. No problem. Third go, in my attempt to help with chaos caused by novice riders, Spook really came undone. Let’s just say I didn’t make 8 seconds. I don’t remember hitting the dirt or being stepped on. The next thing I knew, people were removing my earrings and boots, telling me not to move. I saw Spook’s face looking down at me as if saying,

“What the hell are you doing down there?”

wake up call

I was transported to our local hospital, where they told me my injuries were beyond their trauma level, so I was transferred to our regional trauma center. Diagnosis: Fractured scapula, fractured sacrum, compound femur break, 13 rib breaks, flail chest. Collapsed lung, surgery, and a 16-day hospital stay. Six months of PT followed. Since then, I have had 5 back surgeries and a femur rebreak to reset the rods and screws which were originally misaligned.


It wasn’t Spook’s fault. It wasn’t my fault. It was the consequence of my bad decision, for which I did have control, and a set of circumstances that were beyond my control. This was an expensive mistake, but a priceless learning opportunity.


So, as Paul Harvey said, what is the rest of the story? Christmas morning, I got back on. But to cope with the pain and increasing feelings of inadequacy, I began to drink more and more.


Your buck-off story may not be about a horse. And truly, neither is mine. This story is much like my personal experience with drinking. I was never afraid of drinking– especially drinking too much – until I was. The incident that really made me aware of this happened at a 2019 reining show. Since the show arena is busy during the day, in order to practice you have to ride at night. All night. So, what do you do before you ride at 2 am? You drink with your friends. Boy did I ever. Hey – everyone else was. I don’t remember how I got my horse tacked up that night but I do remember flying around that arena at 2 am totally bombed. And suddenly (realizing that I was improperly prepared and knew it, yet not wanting to do the “right thing” in the midst of my drinking buddies (sound familiar?!)) I said to myself, “Sandy, what in the hell are you doing to yourself (and your horse)?”


If you have found yourself asking that same question, it’s important to start paying attention and get curious about it! WHY are you doing this? What are your thoughts behind your feelings and actions, or are you just on auto pilot? Do you have conflicting thoughts? Do you feel as if you are not in charge or you are afraid of facing what’s behind your thoughts, feelings and behavior?


you decide

I wanted the madness to end. But I wanted to UNDERSTAND WHY I was mindlessly drinking. I wanted to be in control of my choices and find freedom and peace of mind, without experiencing shame and blame and the physical and mental consequences of drinking. I needed the courage to:

  • Recognize and accept reality

  • Find out why I was doing what I was doing

  • Understand the science behind how alcohol affects my brain and body

  • Discover how I could change my thoughts and beliefs and behavior

  • Ask for compassionate, non-judgmental and encouraging support


finding the courage


I found the courage to make the decision to get curious about where my life was and what I wanted it to become. It’s a journey that I wanted and was willing to take.

After my intoxicated-riding-wake-up-call, I knew I had to make a change and began investigating, seeking information and programs that could help me. It wasn’t easy for me – I felt shame, frustration, anger, FOMO, powerless,  and physically awful. Numbing both emotional and physical pain with alcohol was not helping – it was making things worse.


While participating in several take-a-break programs, I discovered Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind podcasts where she explained that alcohol is an addictive substance (which I thought I understood) and to control its use you cannot just use willpower. You have to address your subconscious mind. Knowing the science behind addictive substances and behaviors and one’s thoughts behind behaviors has made all the difference for me. I have dedicated myself to studying This Naked Mind’s methodology in their certified coaching program so that I can extend this open hand of knowledge to others who find themselves in the same place in life that I was.


As your coach, I can offer you this kind of support. I can help you identify and achieve your goals with a thought provoking, science-based approach.  We will start where you ARE and find an action plan to steer you forward toward the life you want.


Please contact me and schedule a free discovery call. I’d love to hear YOUR story. Take your first step toward achieving understanding, confidence, control of your choices, and freedom, all with personalized, confidential support.


You can decide if we are a good fit. It’s all within you. I can help you find it.

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