Tamie Smith: Kate Gillespie Needs Our Help

I love many things about the eventing community, but my favorite aspect might be the way we all reach out to help each other in times of need. Tamie Smith just told us she is trying to raise $15,000 to help Kate Gillespie, her barn manager, pay for surgery that will help alleviate the severe back pain she suffers on a daily basis after a serious riding accident. Please give what you can by clicking here. Go Kate!

Kate, Reno and Buddy

From Tamie:

Most of you know Kate Gillespie as the South African rider that took the West Coast by storm. She and her wonderful horse Reno would arrive at a horse show, and you knew you had better have done your homework.

I first noticed Kate at Galway Downs when she was leading after dressage in the 40s, and I thought, who is this chick!? She kept moving up the levels and eventually competed at the three-star level. She was short listed for the South African Eventing Team at the World Equestrian Games in 2010.

I got to know Kate and learned that she was one of the few genuine people that I could call my friend. She worked for the famous Steffen amd Shannon Peters for 14 years and managed their operation. I bet they would say Kate contributed very much to the success of their business and competitive success.

You see, most people think it takes a great rider and a special horse to be the best. That does help, but it’s everyone in the trenches that really makes it all possible.

I could describe to you Kate and her personality and anyone could pick her out of a big crowd. I don’t think there is another person who has a passion for animals and love for eventing more than her. She is the hardest worker I know and a very good teacher and — when she could — a great rider.

Kate had a bad accident when a horse flipped on her. It broke her back and crushed her head. You should see her helmet! And just like Kate, she never really let anyone fully realize how bad it was. She had back surgery immediately and started six months in rehab, but the pain never subsided.

Kate continued to try and work and pretend that everything was going to be just fine AND still, to this day, pretends that the pain isn’t that bad and that she just needs to keep pushing on.

People who know her know Kate is one of the toughest and strongest people you will ever meet. In fact, I believe if you looked up “strong like a bull” in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Kate’s face. All joking aside, the people who really know her know that her heart is bigger than Texas and that she’s a person with a soft, delicate heart.

We are very happy that Kate is a part of the Next Level Eventing team now. She manages the farm, teaches lessons and wrangles in the girls, making sure they are learning what it takes to be a true horseman. The girls have adopted her as their other mom and call her Lady Katherine. I’ve had a few people try to steal her from me because everyone can see the value in having her on their team.

From the time of Kate’s accident to this day, her quality of life has deteriorated. It’s like watching an animal in a trap suffering in agony. It breaks my heart that she is living life in extreme pain, on so many pain medications and epidural injections. You name it, she has had it done.

After a lot of research, Kate’s finance, Greg, found a doctor that can do a surgery to help fix Kate. Insurance only pays a portion of the cost, and that is when I intervened and said we would do a fundraiser. I posted a comment on my Facebook page, and the outpouring of support that we have already received is unbelievable.

So I’m reaching out for my friend to help her get through this tough time. She shouldn’t have to live in pain for the rest of her life because of a horse accident. The insurance pays everything but $15,000. We need to raise the money by Nov. 29, as her surgery is scheduled for Dec. 3.

Whatever your donation, large or small, every bit helps. Even $10! I will keep track of the contributions and keep you updated on Kate’s progress. We are all rooting for her to make a full recovery and to see her smiling face back on a horse again, even if it’s just trail riding and jumping cross rails.

Thank you to each of you who has already donated, and thank you for passing the word along! Click here to donate.

Go Eventing. Go Kate!


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