Aug 28, 2018

The Road to AEC: An Incredible Gift

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Rebecca and Stella. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Hunt.

When Rebecca Hunt stumbled upon a CANTER Kentucky Facebook post in 2015 for a 3-year-old Thoroughbred mare, she wasn’t at all looking for another horse. One look at the mare’s jog video, however, and Rebecca knew she had to have her. “I told them I would be there to pick her up the next day . . . BEST decision I have ever made,” she recalled.

Snowflake Lane (Dunkirk x Correoso), or “Stella” as she is known in the barn, began her eventing career the following spring. She spent the 2016 competing with Rebecca at the Beginner Novice level and moved up to Novice at her first outing in 2017. The pair never finished outside the top ten that year, taking home the Novice Championship title in the Area IV Championships and closing out the season by moving up to Training level. They took home the blue ribbon in their first attempt at the level, and have gone four for four so far in 2018.

“Stella is by far the sweetest horse I have ever been around and tries her heart out for me,” said Rebecca. “There's no such thing as having a bad ride on this girl. In the dressage ring, you would never guess she is a Thoroughbred, and on one incredible occasion we scored an 18.5, my personal best by far!”

With the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) taking place a 9-hour straight shot west on Interstate 70 in Parker, Colorado, Rebecca and Stella set their sights on competing at the AEC. A lifelong eventer, Rebecca had never had the opportunity to compete at the AEC, but given her winning streak with Stella, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the trip. But, just as the stars seemed to be aligning for Rebecca, her world was turned upside down.

On the morning of July 3rd, Rebecca and her husband Tim, who works as an electrician, were enjoying a cup of coffee together before he headed to work for the day with their son, Wil. While at work, Tim was up on a ladder and Wil left the room for just a moment. When he returned, he found his father on the ground, unresponsive and bleeding from the head. Tim’s coworker, Brett Euritt, had just pulled up to the job site and immediately began performing CPR until the EMS arrived. By the time they got there, Tim was in ventricular fibrillation, clinically dead, and had to be defibrillated four times before he regained a pulse. Tim was then rushed to Research Medical Center in Kansas City.

Rebecca and Tim. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Hunt.

Two days later, Tim was finally responsive enough to squeeze Rebecca’s hand. “I have never in my life felt such a surge of relief, it was truly overwhelming,” recalled Rebecca. “He was coming back to us!” After that, Tim began to recover at an unexpected rate with Rebecca by his side every step of the way. “He woke up very quickly and went on to being the worst patient EVER,” Rebecca said. “We were told he had the record for the most IVs ripped out in the ICU. He was planning his escape at every moment! I believe it was that fight that helped him heal so quickly. We spent five days in the ICU and 12 days total in the hospital, which he has no memory of.”

With Rebecca focusing on Tim’s recovery, the AEC seemed completely out of the question. Rebecca’s barnmates, Lacey Messick, Cynthia Wiseman, and Katie Sisk, and her trainer, Julie Wolfert, were heartbroken to see all of Rebecca’s hard work and dedication go to waste and knew they needed to do something. So, they hatched a plan to get Rebecca to the AEC. “We knew Becca needed this show more than anything with the chaos of the past few months,” said Messick. “She needed some ‘normal’.”

Rebecca, Cynthia, Lacey, and Katie at the IEA Horse Trials. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Hunt.

When Messick, Wiseman, Sisk, and Wolfert told Rebecca that she would be taking an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 AEC, complete with free lessons and coaching for the weekend, she could hardly believe her ears. “Talk about instant tears!” she said. “This is what we had been prepping for all season, and I couldn't believe what they were offering. My immediate answer was no, I just wasn't going to be able to leave Tim, but as he kept improving, I accepted their incredible gift.”

“Becca is the best person I know,” shared Messick. “She is kind and real and a darn good horsewoman. I’m so happy Tim is on the mend and Becca can still make her 2018 goal of going to the National Championships.”

Tim has been making leaps and bounds in his recovery since the accident, and both Rebecca and Tim’s doctors are blown away by his progress. While the doctors still have no idea what caused Tim to fall, and probably never will, the outlook for his recovery is very bright and Rebecca could not be more grateful.

“I truly feel like it was divine intervention the way it all played out to get Tim the help that he needed so desperately,” she commented. “If it weren’t for the bravery and quick action of our son Wil, Brett Euritt, and the entire crew at Prairie Township Fire Department, we would be in a very different situation. It's because of each and every one of them that our family is still complete and my dream of growing old with this man is still alive.”

“It's crazy how life can look so dark and scary, and just a short month later look so bright again. I have put all my faith in God's hands and he has brought us where we are today. We are beyond blessed!”

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