THEY'RE her passion, her work, her love and last week a horse nearly took Emma Thompson's life.
On Friday afternoon, the 18-year-old was riding a stallion when something spooked the horse - possibly a bush hitting its tail - and the animal reared up violently.
Emma stayed on the horse, but it fell and rolled on her before kicking her in the face.
Waking up in a hospital bed with no recollection not only of the accident, but the past six months of her life was a frightening experience for the Warwick woman.
"I don't remember what happened - I just remember waking up and feeling sore and sorry for myself," she said.
Initial fears of bleeding on the brain and internal bleeding were soon dismissed, but is unclear how long it will take for Emma's full memory to return - if at all.
"Things are starting to come back, but I hate going to sleep because I've been getting it in my dreams and it is exhausting," she said.
Despite it all, she is grateful to be alive and thankful she was wearing the helmet she says saved her life.
Emma - who plans to take up campdrafting and barrel racing in the near future - said she now wanted others to heed the dangers of riding and to wear protective gear.
The teenager admits she, like many others in the horse community, did not always wear a helmet when riding horses she was comfortable with - but all that has now changed.
"I was used to getting the quiet horses and going for gentle rides, but it doesn't matter how quiet a horse is or how many times you have ridden it, there could always be something to spook it," she said.
"And that one time a freak thing happens is when you will wish you had worn the helmet.
"I honestly believe I would not be here today if I wasn't wearing a helmet."
Emma wants teenagers to shy away from the perception that wearing a helmet undermines your abilities on a horse.
"I really just want to put it out there for young people that it doesn't matter how old you are, you should always wear protective gear," she said.
"All of this gear isn't cheap, but at the end of the day, can you really put a price on your life?
"If you're not prepared to buy the gear, you're not prepared to play the sport."
Despite wanting to ride, Emma is under instructions to stay off horses for six weeks, as another fall could mean permanent brain damage.
"I'm ready to get back on a horse - I would get back on right now if I was allowed to," she said.
Emma said she was extremely grateful to the staff of both the Warwick and Toowoomba Hospitals and RACQ Care Flight for taking such good care of her.
She also wants to extend her gratitude to David and Nancy Taylor and Terry Catip for their quick responses and care when she fell and Phil and Sharron Barker from Warwick Saddlery Supplies for the helmet that saved her life.
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