▶️Prineville girl begins road to recovery after scary horseback riding accident


A 10-year-old girl is back in Prineville after needing to be life flighted to Portland after a scary horseback riding accident.

Reese Cooley is now on the road to recovery.

It was a parent’s worst nightmare.

Reese was bucked off a horse while the family was herding cattle in the Ochoco National Forest.

She was found unresponsive.

They were an hour from the nearest hospital and had no cell service.

RELATED: ▶️ Crews respond to fire reported near Prineville Friday afternoon

RELATED: ▶️ Kicking off the Crook County Fair

“We rolled her over, and she wasn’t breathing,” said the mother of Reese, Steffany Cooley. “We knew things were bad.”

Just past Big Summit Prairie, nine horseback riders, including Reese, were moving cattle along the highway before Reese’s horse bucked her off, and she fell face-first into the pavement.

“We got her airways cleared out, and she started to take some breaths, and we got her into the pickup, and then as we were driving into town, we are in the forest, so every bump you are hitting she is screaming in lots of pain,” said Steffany.

Without cell service, they could only keep trying to call 911 until they finally reached a point where they could make that call.

An ambulance met them, picked up Reese, and took her to the St. Charles Prineville hospital.

“She was trying to get the straps off of her and pulling IVs out, it was stressful, but we knew at that point, they had life flight on the way, and we would be going to Portland,” said Steffany.

The traumatic experience and injuries left Reese with very little memories of what happened that day.

“I can’t remember him bucking me off, but I remember riding that day until he started bucking, and I remember when I went in the helicopter,” said Reese Cooley.

Reese had several broken bones in her face, neck, and skull, and after arriving at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, they learned she had a broken back.

“She would have good times and bad times, and we were in the pediatric ICU for two days because they were watching her legs,” Steffany said. “She had bleeding on her spinal cord from the breaks, so they were watching her to make sure she didn’t have numbness or tinglingly.”

A little after a week in the hospital, Reese was sent home.

Waiting for her were friends and family, but also a mailbox full of letters, posters, and get-well care packages.

“The kids had posters for her and a little welcome home thing, and that really made her feel good,” Steffany said.

Reese says she spends her time playing the guitar, playing games with friends, and doing anything to keep her busy during a long road to recovery.

She returns to Portland for a checkup at the end of the month. So far, the recovery has been good, though the road ahead is unknown, the spirits are high, and the support is strong.

“I think she is one tough cookie, and she will get back on (the horse) someday,” said Steffany.

If you are interested in helping or supporting Reese in this recovery process, the family encourages sending letters or care packages to their home:

8621 N Ryegrass Way

Prineville, OR



Top Local Stories