A fracture of the cervical vertebrae– a diagnosis people became familiar with through Friday Night Lights’ Jason Street, Bones’ Jack Hodges, or Arrows’ Felicity Smoak.
While each of those characters suffered permanent paralysis that landed them in a wheelchair, National Reining Horse Association Futurity & Adequan ® North American Affiliate Championships competitor Amanda Antifaev just took a few months off of riding her horses and bounced right back.
“I was at the top of the stack on the trailer, and I picked up a hay bale that was kind of heavy, so I yanked on it, and the string broke, and I fell off backward,” Antifaev said, recalling how her 2016 accident occurred. “I fell backward about 15 feet down and broke all the bones in my hand and broke my neck too.”
Antifaev went on to spend five nights in the hospital and another three at home in a halo-style neck brace. An NRHA Professional hailing from Alberta, Canada, Antifaev has been training horses since 1997 and has nearly $300,000 in lifetime earnings.
Being immobilized meant that Antifaev wasn’t able to ride her horses, so she sent her futurity horse for that year to NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider Duane Latimer for training while she recovered. By the time the NRHA Futurity rolled around that year, Antifaev was ready to ride– but she hadn’t ridden the horse since sending it off.
Being as dedicated to her horses and the sport of reining as she is, Antifaev didn’t let that stop her. She headed to the NRHA Futurity and catch-rode her own horse, ultimately making the semi-finals.
At the 2023 NRHA Futurity, Antifaev is back, with the same horse. The horse, Special Made Whiskey, is a stallion by NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Gunners Special Nite out of Starlight Acres and is owned by Gordon Robinson. Antifaev showed him in the Adequan® NAAC class, where she earned an impressive score of 215.5.
Going forward, Antifaev plans to try to stay away from any other injuries, and said, “I’ve got a couple of really nice futurity horses for next year. So that’s kind of my big goal, and I want to try and come to show a little bit more in the states.”