Jennifer Green: From Back Surgery to Congress NYATT Finalist
Preparing for a major show like the Congress is never a task to be taken lightly. Long, sleepless hours go into making sure everything is as ready as possible. It’s hard enough when a rider is 100% healthy all year. However, the road is even longer when you are recovering from major back surgery like Youth exhibitor Jennifer Green of Hampton, Georgia. This morning, Jennifer and EZ Rockin Career added a finalist placing in the NYATT Hunter Under Saddle at the Congress, an achievement she doesn’t take lightly.
Jennifer suffered from scoliosis which left her in a back brace for a year and a half which had to be worn for 23 out of 24 hours in the day. According to Jennifer, while this should have straightened out her spine by the time she was done growing around age 15, she began having terrible pain in her back and knees when she was 17.
“It was just miserable pain,” she explains. ”My spine had gone from a 28 degree curve to a 58 degree curve, and it was severe enough that it was moving my organs around.”
Jennifer’s doctor told her that surgery was really the only option to fix the curvature of her spine and ease the chronic pain she lived in.
“I knew I was going to have to have surgery eventually, it was just a matter of doing it now or waiting until I was older. It was a 12 hour surgery that would include inserting 12 rods, 14 screws, and 5 plates.”
While the thought of surgery made her pretty nervous, she decided it would be better to have it done while she was young and could heal faster. After her surgery on February 22nd, she was in the ICU for five days and orthopedic care for four days for a total of nine days in the hospital.
“Recovery was really hard,” Jennifer says. “I started physical therapy right after my surgery, and had to learn how to do basic things all over again. I did physical therapy twice a week for eight weeks.”
She didn’t let that stop her from being around horses. While she couldn’t drive, she had someone take her to the barn to see her horse regularly.
“It was really hard the first show after my surgery I wasn’t able to go to. My trainers Glenn Wells and Sheala Kelley (of Glenn Wells Quarter Horses) have really been a huge help for my recovery and getting back in the saddle. Even now, Glenn still won’t let me tack up my horse.”
The first time she was able to even sit on a horse after her surgery was at the Pro Am Circuit in April. Jennifer was determined that she could rehab enough to be back in the saddle to make the Georgia Quarter Horse Association Congress NYATT team. Her first time back in the show ring was at the Big A in July where she and her horse made her comeback as the Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle Circuit Champion. When she wasn’t showing, she was helping GQHYA advisor, Michelle Scott, with anything she could in order to catch up and earn enough volunteer hours that the team required to be eligible.
Through a lot of hard work and determination, Jennifer was not only able to qualify for the NYATT team, but walked out of the Coliseum as a finalist in the Hunter Under Saddle.
“Everything really came together, and I had such a good ride,” she says. ”I’ve had so much help and support from everyone, especially Glenn and Sheala. It was a long road to get here.”
When asked what her upcoming plans are for the remainder of 2016 and 2017, she says she plans to continuing showing and wrap up 2016 at the Gold Coast Circuit in December.
“Next year is my final year as a Youth, and I want it to be a successful and fun year. After that, we’ll see what happens. I’d love for my mom to show my horse.”
Whatever happens, with her passion and dedication, we’re sure that Jennifer’s final year will be a great one. After overcoming something a major surgery, everything else will seem like a breeze.