Aug 14, 2010 8:45 PM by Matt Stafford
In June Heather Buck, a horse rider from Black Forest won a World Championship racing her horse in the 2010 Youth Painted Horse Show in Ft. Worth, Texas.
The next month Buck suffered and injury that has kept her out of the saddle ever since. She went over the top of her horse, causing head injuries that her parents say are forcing her to learn to walk and talk again.
"This really is where Heather has grown up," says Nancy Buck, Heather's mother, as she looks across the arena.
Even without Heather, the competitions go on -- like on Saturday at the Black Forest Saddle Club.
"I got her horse ready and brought him here," says Nancy Buck, which she adds wasn't easy to do.
One of Heather's best friends, Valencia Ortega, is showing Heather's horse Cody in Saturday's competition. Nancy Buck likes to see Valencia and Cody perform, but she would like to be watching her daughter ride.
"It's very sad," Buck struggles to add.
However, it's more than just showing Heather's horse; Ortega, and another friend Nikki Sotelo, have been staying the night with Heather in the hospital. Her parents say the friends are giving Heather their time and much more, just so she doesn't feel alone.
"I can't imagine being anywhere else." Ortega says.
"There's no way we could ever thank them enough," explains Richard Buck, Heather's father.
One trip to the Black Forest Saddle Club shows Heather is far from alone.
"Not having her here is really hard on all of us," Sotelo explains.
Sotelo hasn't shown horses in years -- she was just coming for support, but decided to show just for Heather.
"I'm not here to place, if I place I place, this is just for her," Sotelo adds.
There's a lot of people doing things for her; giving donations, sending support and keeping her in their thoughts. Everyone wants to see Heather back to her usual form.
"She's stubborn, she's strong-willed and she will be back," Nancy explains.
Nancy Buck says that confidently, probably because of all the help and support she's seen Heather receive. She says it's that help from friends keeps Heather getting better every day, like helping take care of her horses.
After the first event of the day Nancy Buck and Ortega spoke about the performance. Ortega half-heartedly said she got fifth, which comes with a pink ribbon, but Nancy was very excited.
"Fifth!" Buck excitedly exclaimed. "Heather loves pink!"
They may have been competing in an individual sport, but on Saturday it was all for Heather.
At the beginning of the competition they took a moment to read a prayer for Heather and begin collecting donations. The Bucks say they expect medical expenses, but they have insurance. The donations are more for Heather's horses. Nancy Buck says her daughter has worked several jobs to pay the expenses for her horses, now her "extended" family is pitching in.
Competitions will continue Sunday at the Black Forest Saddle Club; they will still be accepting donations for the Buck's.