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Army reservist who lost both legs learns to walk again, Here’s Her Sto­ry

A 23-year-old U.S. Army reservist has spo­ken of los­ing both of her legs when she was thrown off her horse in front of a mov­ing train.

Clarice Sykes, from Juru­pa Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia has had to learn to walk again on her new pros­thet­ic legs fol­low­ing the freak acci­dent in July.

Ms Sykes’s beloved horse Comanche became spooked by an oncom­ing train and ran out onto the tracks in front of it, dying instant­ly.

Brave: Clarice Sykes, 23, takes her first few steps on her new prosthetics, having lost both of her legs following the horse-riding accident in July
Brave: Clarice Sykes, 23, takes her first few steps on her new pros­thet­ics, hav­ing lost both of her legs fol­low­ing the horse-rid­ing acci­dent in July

The 23-year-old was thrown into the side of the mov­ing train, and was lat­er found with only her right leg still attached to her body.

Ms Sykes’ left leg was lat­er found near­by but could not be reat­tached, and she even­tu­al­ly suf­fered an infec­tion on her right leg and need­ed to have it ampu­tat­ed.

I start­ed rid­ing hors­es when I was just five years old and then nev­er stopped,’ Ms Sykes says.

I would ride my horse almost every day, and I had Comanche since Jan­u­ary 2018 — he was my own horse.

Friend lost: Ms Sykes' horse Comanche, pictured together before the accident, died instantly when he ran out in front of a moving train with the Army reservist on his back
Friend lost: Ms Sykes’ horse Comanche, pic­tured togeth­er before the acci­dent, died instant­ly when he ran out in front of a mov­ing train with the Army reservist on his back
Horrific: The 23-year-old was thrown into the side of the train, and was later found with only her right leg still attached to her body, but so severely damaged it later had to be amputated
Hor­rif­ic: The 23-year-old was thrown into the side of the train, and was lat­er found with only her right leg still attached to her body, but so severe­ly dam­aged it lat­er had to be ampu­tat­ed

While rid­ing my horse home on July 1 this year I was thrown into the side of a mov­ing train. Comanche took off scared and he ran towards the mov­ing train.

Comanche passed away instant­ly, and I was found about ten min­utes after it hap­pened, but my left leg was­n’t attached to my body — it was sev­ered above the knee. It was found near­by me instead.

I actu­al­ly don’t remem­ber any­thing from my acci­dent at all, but all I know is what the police on the scene were able to tell my par­ents.

I did­n’t real­ly have any bad reac­tions to the acci­dent when I woke up, but I do remem­ber ask­ing my mum why one leg was short­er than the oth­er.

Road back: Ms Sykes had to learn to walk again on her amputated legs before she could be fitted with her new prosthetic legs
Road back: Ms Sykes had to learn to walk again on her ampu­tat­ed legs before she could be fit­ted with her new pros­thet­ic legs

I also had a bro­ken nose, and my left eye was so swollen shut that the doc­tors did­n’t even know if I had an eye at first.

I then lost cir­cu­la­tion in my right leg and that had to be ampu­tat­ed two weeks after the acci­dent due to an infec­tion.

Over­all, my recov­ery was real­ly good because I did­n’t get any phan­tom pain at all. I’m one of the very few amputees who has­n’t had any phan­tom pains, so I got very lucky with that.

I do how­ev­er get very bad nerve pain in my right leg ran­dom­ly though.

I was in the hos­pi­tal for a month at first and then I went to rehab from there, where I stayed for two weeks.’

No fear: The horrific accident has not made Ms Sykes fear horses and is determined to get back in the saddle as soon as she can
No fear: The hor­rif­ic acci­dent has not made Ms Sykes fear hors­es and is deter­mined to get back in the sad­dle as soon as she can
Inspirational: Ms Sykes shares her journey to recovery in the hopes it will help others
Inspi­ra­tional: Ms Sykes shares her jour­ney to recov­ery in the hopes it will help oth­ers
Determined: Ms Sykes says she 'cannot wait' to ride a horse again and will be back doing what she loves in 2019, but promises to 'never take if for granted'
Deter­mined: Ms Sykes says she ‘can­not wait’ to ride a horse again and will be back doing what she loves in 2019, but promis­es to ‘nev­er take if for grant­ed’

Ms Sykes says she has faced a very dif­fi­cult jour­ney back to nor­mal­i­ty, hav­ing always val­ued her inde­pen­dence.

I feel like the hard­est part of all of this for me was los­ing my inde­pen­dence and not being able to work, dri­ve or ride hors­es,’ said Clarice.

Every­one I know, even my pros­thetist, say that I’ve recov­ered extreme­ly fast. I think because I’m in good spir­its and I always try to be as pos­i­tive as I can be, that real­ly helps me. I’ve always been dri­ven and moti­vat­ed to achieve what I want.

Phys­i­cal ther­a­py was always good and some­thing I looked for­ward to because I have always loved work­ing out. Before all of this, I used to pow­er­lift, and I could leg press 340kg.

I can’t wait to ride a horse again and I will actu­al­ly start again next year. I feel like I’ve had enough for this year though.

For any­one else, don’t take any­thing in life for grant­ed because one day you could have every­thing you could ever want or need, but the next it could all be gone at the blink of an eye.

Since my acci­dent, I no longer take any­thing for grant­ed any­more.’

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