When Jordyn Nethken, a 15-year-old competitive barrel racer from Prairieville, La., suffered a near-fatal head injury last May, she had no idea she would win a World Championship one year later. The accident occurred on May 4, 2006. Jordyn was practicing for the Josey Jr. World with her father and her friends in Marshall City Arena. After trying a new bit on Jordyn’s horse, the bridle broke free and began slipping off the horses head. With no control, the horse took off outside the arena with the startled rider trying her best to regain control. Jordyn’s father found her unconscious face down on the asphalt.
“There is not a day that passes that I don’t question the decisions I made. And now knowing that if I would have required my daughter to wear her Troxel helmet, which she already owned for riding events in 4 H, she would not have had to suffer as much as she did,” Jordyn’s father, Steve Nethken says.
Jordyn underwent emergency neurosurgery, suffering from a lateral fracture on the right side of her skull and an internal cranium bleed. A large portion of her right skull bone was removed to allow her brain to swell without causing further damage. After eight days in the critical care, Jordyn was released with a portion of her skull still missing until the replacement of her skull bone could be conducted. The ICU nurses and surgeons were astonished with the speed of her recovery; they referred to Jordyn as a miracle child.
After undergoing three additional surgeries from complications with her bone graphing, Jordyn was ultimately released in June 2007, and cleared to start riding again. Determined to get back on her horse and compete, Jordyn had less than a month to prepare for the NBHA Youth World Championship. She made a profound comeback and took the NBHA World Champion title in the third division, for teenagers ages 13-18 on July 28, 2007.
“Like most parents, I knew of the dangers associated with riding horses but always told myself, ‘It’s never going to happen to my daughter,’” Nethken says.
In addition to her friends and family, this incident has also inspired many people in Jordyn’s affiliated riding associations to wear helmets in practice and show. While Jordyn was hospitalized, legendary barrel racing instructor Martha Josey gave Jordyn a personal visit. Both Jordyn and Martha hope to communicate the imperative message to riders that it is essential and intelligent to choose to wear a helmet while training and competing.
“Troxel commends Jordyn, an outstanding teen leader whose dedicated efforts have furthered helmet use” said Troxel’s CEO Shay Joaquin. “She is truly a miracle.”