• Published 21st Aug 2021
  • 774 Views, 99 Comments

Letting Go Of The Reins - applebatofalltrades

Applejack's rodeo career takes a turn. She must learn to adapt to her new life and the challenges that come with it.

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For She's A Jolly Good Fellow

Applejack took a deep breath as she opened her eyes, squinting and grimacing as she was stirred from her slumber. Something that she couldn’t quite understand made her wipe the palm of her hand on her face. Beads of sweat gathered on her brow, and she realized why her body had subconsciously made her clear them away. She inhaled heavily and sat herself up with a barely suppressed grunt.

Her vision was blurred by what might have been sweat as she used her other hand to clumsily reach to her side until she felt wood against her fingers. It was somewhere there. Applejack glanced to the side, using the soft nighttime light to guide her. It was barely enough, but the way the moonlight reflected off the snow and entered between the gaps in the blinds was just enough.

Finally, she managed to find what she was looking for. Her saviour, the one that she could have used the last time she found herself waking up like this. With trembling hands—probably shaky from being stirred awake by such an unpleasant feeling, probably also muscles too overused from their earlier work—Applejack fumbled open the lid to the bottle.

No choice, she managed to tell herself. To justify it. You gotta sleep, and you can’t sleep like this.

One every four hours, as needed. It’d been more than four hours, right? She glanced at the clock next to her, but she couldn’t quite make out the time. It was a only green blur of light. Applejack bit her lip and shook her head. Of course it’d been more than four hours. She’d been asleep, and she felt as though a lot more than four hours had passed.

Just one. It’s fine.

She dropped a single, white little pill into her hand and closed the bottle. She tried to put it back properly, but the feeling of her hand knocking something over followed by the sound of rolling and then a louder thud told her she’d failed. Whatever. That was a problem for later. After she’d slept the night. Putting that to the side, she popped the palm of her hand to her mouth and tried to feel around for her water bottle. Finally, her eyes adjusted to the light after a few moments, only to bring more bad news. Whatever it was that she’d knocked down earlier? It was her water bottle.

Applejack nearly wanted to ask the universe what else could possibly go wrong, but she refrained. It was just a mistake. It didn’t matter. She could just dry swallow it, and go back to sleep. She needed to sleep, and she needed the pain to stop.


Applejack stared bleary-eyed at Rain, doing her best to pay attention to his instructions.

She sat between the bars with her legs strapped to the mobility aid. She wasn’t sure why she still even had to work on the bars. She wouldn’t be able to walk again, so what was the point? To strengthen her legs? Strengthen them for what? She doubted they could even get stronger.

All she ever did was hold herself up until she couldn’t anymore. Maybe she would shuffle forward a few inches using her arms, but that was the extent of what she could do. So what was the point?

Rain asked if she wanted to keep doing it, that it wasn’t mandatory if she didn’t want to. He said he recommended it, though, if only to strengthen her arms and at least do something for her legs by stretching them out. Plus, she would have to get out of her chair from time to time to transfer, and parallel bars helped with training the right muscles and movement. She agreed, for some goddamn reason that was beyond her now.

He was saying something about ‘bursts’ and ‘muscles’ and ‘failure’, but nothing he said really stuck. Applejack furrowed her eyebrows, but by the time she finally snapped back to attention, he was done explaining. “You got it?”

Applejack licked her lips. “Uh, maybe?”

Rain frowned. “Were you paying attention?”

“No,” Applejack admitted with a frustrated sigh. “I just, I don’t really see the point anymore.”

“Don’t see the point in what?”

She gestured around her. “All this. I’ve pretty much done everythin’ you want me to do. I can wheelie well enough, at least enough to practice on my own, and I can get up and down ramps. Curbs are a bit hard, but like you said, it’s all just a matter of experience.” She huffed and pointed at the bars directly. “I don’t see the use in me doin’ more parallel bars, neither. It’s just causin’ me a whole lot of grief.”

For a moment, Rain seemed disappointed, but he shook that off and nodded. “Well, like I said, you don’t have to do it. It’s just to build your strength, but you’re already strong. Do you want to stop with the bars, then?”

Applejack glanced down at her legs. They were held stiff by the plastic braces meant to keep her legs straight underneath her to mimic standing, even when she couldn’t actually stand. “I don’t know, I just… I feel a little frustrated.”

Rain sighed and nodded. “Look, I get it. You’re making progress, but it doesn’t really feel like it, right? It feels like it’s all been a waste of time. I understand.”

“Sure, but I don’t think you really get it,” Applejack argued, though she wasn’t upset at him. “Helpin’ people do these things ain’t the same as doin’ ‘em.”

He grinned and crossed his arms. “I wouldn’t be sure.”

“Whaddya mean?”

“I’m going to tell you a story.” Rain leaned against one of the bars. “Before I became a physical therapist, I was on track to be a professional football player. I played for the University of Bitsburgh, and I was a pretty good prospect. Was looking to be a first-round pick and was projected to be one of the best running backs in the draft. I heard the Fillydelphia Eagles were scouting me, and I think they were even thinking of drafting me.”

Rain’s smile twitched a little. “But then me and some of my fraternity brothers who also played ball did a damn stupid thing. We went out for a joyride after our big win against our rival school. I didn’t notice at the time because I was too caught up in the moment, but my buddy behind the wheel had far too many drinks in him.” He sighed and shook his head. “We went off the side of the road into a ditch, and next thing I knew, I woke up in a hospital in a halo brace and I couldn’t move my legs. I broke my back, it was my T8. But I was lucky. Doctor told me I’d never be able to play at the same level again, but that in time, I could walk again. Maybe even run.

“I was thrown into a life I didn’t want. All I wanted was to play football, and then after one stupid decision, I was forced into a wheelchair. I didn’t think it was worth it. What else could I do with my life? The physiotherapist who took charge of me, her name was Song Wind, was amazing. She was encouraging and patient, even when I got frustrated and angry. Eventually, after a long time, I was able to walk again. I couldn’t have done it without her, and that’s when I realized that this?” He gestured around him with a happy smile. “This is what I wanted to do. I couldn’t play football anymore, at least not like before, but I wanted to help others. I wanted to be like Song Wind, so I went back to school and I did everything I could and wound up here.”

Applejack wasn’t sure how to react. She didn’t know that about Rain before, but it explained why he seemed so comfortable in a wheelchair, even for someone whose job was to work with people in wheelchairs. She opted to frown. “Wow, I… I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

Rain shrugged. “It’s okay, I don’t mind talking about it anymore. I just wanted to show you that you shouldn’t give up even when things are tough.”

It must have been different knowing he could at some point walk again, but still, she understood his point. It must have been hard, though. It wasn’t even his fault. “What… what about your friends?”

That seemed to make him frown a bit. “The one behind the wheel… he didn’t make it. They said he died on impact. I always hoped it was a painless death. As for my other friends, they were mostly okay. One of them ended up in a wheelchair like me, but he never fully recovered. He still needs mobility aids to walk but he can get around, and the other one ended up okay.”

Oh shit, why’d she have to ask? Applejack mentally kicked herself. “Sorry for askin’, I–I shoulda known.” She frowned. Of course someone would have died. It was bound to happen in an accident like that. It always did. Why’d she have to go and ask?

“I’m the one who brought it up, right?” Rain gave her a smile. “My point is, I understand what you’re feeling. And I can’t make you do it if you don’t want to, but in the long run, it’s just going to benefit you. If it’s because you’re not feeling it today, then that’s okay, but I don’t think you should give up on it entirely. You’ve only got two weeks left.”

“But it’s still my decision, right?” Applejack asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Well, yeah,” Rain responded, “I’m not trying to force you. I’m trying to get you to see it from my point of view.”

Applejack raised a finger to her lips as she thought, idly nibbling on the tip of her thumb. Part of her knew she should just do it, that it would only be beneficial, but the other half of her just wanted to call it a day and stay in bed. Or at least, she wanted to stay in bed until her family came.

That would have been so much easier. She always felt tired, anyway. Maybe it would be for the best.

“I think… maybe I should just go back to my room today,” she suggested slowly, still unsure about her decision. “We already did some other stuff anyway, and I’m feelin’ kinda drowsy. Don’t wanna overdo it, y’know?”

“Sure, I get that,” Rain told her. “Have you been feeling alright recently, by the way? Any pain or anything like that?”

Applejack shrugged as she leaned forward to unstrap the aids on her legs. “Not any more than usual, I guess.” She paused as she remembered her forced wake-up just that past night and winced. “Well, I mean, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night ‘cause of some pain or other. But I figure it’s only the pain meds wearin’ off.”

“Hmm.” Rain kneeled down to help Applejack with the other leg. “Are you taking them every day?”

“No, only when I need to,” Applejack told him, pausing from unstrapping since she couldn’t reach all the way to the bottom of her legs without feeling like she might topple over anyway. “Not every day, but I guess more often than I’d like. Just… I dunno, it’s been helpin’ a lot with the pain and everything.”

He nodded and helped her with the straps she couldn’t reach before taking them off altogether. Applejack maually lifted each of her legs back into the footrests properly. Rain, in the meantime, put the braces to the side. “Okay. Are they causing any kind of side-effects that aren’t typical? Maybe nausea, dizziness, confusion, tiredness, changes in your mood, or apathy? Anything like that?”

Applejack grinned awkwardly and cocked her head. “No, I don’t think so. Nothin’ out of the ordinary, at least. Ain’t this something that a nurse would typically ask?”

Rain rubbed his neck. “Yes, but I also have to make sure that nothing you’re taking may be interfering with our sessions.”

She shook her head. Rain really did worry too much, but that was his job. So at least he was good at his job. “Naw, I think it’s alright. Just everythin’ all kinda comin’ down on me at once. Been really feelin’ all that exercise, y’know?”

“Alright, I’m just making sure,” Rain told her with a thumbs up. “And if anything comes up, just talk to a nurse or anyone here, really. It doesn’t have to be related to your meds. There are a lot of other things that people going through a big injury may go through, and sometimes it’s good to talk about it. We can make it easier for you to find someone to help you through anything.”

He wasn’t being very subtle. Applejack had already been down that road before, though, so she just nodded. “Yeah, I know. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Good. With that being said, I think it’s safe to call today’s session to an end.” Rain walked over to a nearby desk and took a lollipop out of a mason jar, which made Applejack smile in amusement. “You get a treat today!”

He held out the yellow lollipop to Applejack, who took it with a grin. “Aw shucks, ya even got me a little candy,” she expressed in a teasing tone. She looked over the little no brand lollipop. It was probably lemon flavoured. She figured she’d give it to Apple Bloom.

“Of course, anything for my best behaved patient,” Rain told her, bowing as he did. Applejack couldn’t help but grin at his antics. He was a lot different than any doctor Applejack had ever met. He was a lot friendlier and joked around more. She liked that about him. It made him feel more like someone who cared about her rather than someone who had to care for her.

“Aw, the bar must be set pretty low if that turned out to be me,” Applejack responded. She crossed her arms and gave him a grin.

“No, I meant your sister.”

Applejack scoffed. “Apple Bloom? But she ain’t even your patient.”

Rain stuck out his tongue playfully. “And yet, she still beat you.”

“Aw, whatever,” Applejack muttered with a poorly hidden chuckle. He must have known Applejack wasn’t one for candy, at least not often, and would give it to Apple Bloom. He’d only met her a few times, but they hit it off pretty well. Apple Bloom had no bad things to say about Rain, and Applejack could definitely share that sentiment. “I’ll make sure to give it to her, then.”

“Good. And hey, tell her happy birthday for me.”

“You don’t wanna come say hi, at least?” Applejack asked, pocketing the lollipop in a way that made sure it wouldn’t accidentally poke her while she couldn’t notice.

Rain shook his head. “I can’t, I’ve got some paperwork to fill out.”

“Not even for a bit? I’m sure your paperwork can wait, and Bloom’d be right tickled to see ya,” she pointed out. “C’mon, just a bit. For your favourite patient?”

Rain tapped his chin in consideration, then slumped his shoulders in mock defeat. “Fine. I’ll do it for my favourite patient, Apple Bloom.”

Applejack reached forward to give him a firm punch on the leg, to which he reacted with a dramatic yell followed by an abrupt moment of silence, which sent them both into laughter.

“Okay, well they should be ‘round in, like, half an hour or so,” Applejack told him once she finally gathered herself. “So, I guess if you wanna stop by, then would be the perfect time. Plus, you can get some of your paperwork done ‘tween now and then.”

Rain voiced his agreement and after a quick goodbye, Applejack made her way back to her room. Her arms protested, but she pushed through until she got back.

The blinds were drawn in her room, cascading it in darkness. She found it rather relaxing, but she knew that Granny wouldn’t like her to be sitting in a dark room, so she turned on the lights on her way in so at least she wouldn’t have to remember to turn them on before her family got back.

It’d been almost two weeks since her family had come to visit, but it wasn’t due to a lack of trying. The unexpected snowfall just made it hard for them to find the time to come all the way out, but Apple Bloom had insisted they go visit Applejack for her birthday.

All in all, Applejack was glad she’d get to see them again. She could prove that she was doing so much better than the last time they saw each other, and then they could stop not-so-secretly worrying about her.

In the meantime, Applejack pulled up to her desk and opened her laptop. She realized she forgot to close her tabs as an auction site popped up on her screen. Applejack exited the page and sighed as she opened a new tab. Winter meant paying extra attention to the cattle, and that meant feeding them more and making sure they were warm. She wasn’t too sure if anyone had remembered to order the extra feed, but she figured it wouldn’t hurt to make sure they had it taken care of for at least a week or two until she got back.

Hell, she might as well make sure they have enough bedding, too. She placed all that as an order and made sure to text Big Mac the pickup information. The good thing was that their ranch was reputable and they were loyal to a select number of local shops, so they didn’t get hassled too much when placing orders. That was handy. It let Applejack contribute remotely as opposed to having to go to the shop itself to request items in bulk. She did enjoy doing the work herself, but she wasn’t sure how she would get around to doing it anymore. It had only come up a few times and she found out that she could drive with hand controls, but it would probably just be easier to do it from home.

What else could she do while she waited? She tapped her fingers on the desk and hummed a tune while she thought. The silence and stillness made her focus on how her body felt, and it felt sore and there was… something happening where it shouldn’t be. That strange phantom pain threatened to kick in, something she would never get used to. If her family was going to be coming soon, she should probably make sure she was feeling her best. It was what they expected from her. Applejack popped a pill. The effects would kick in soon.

She shook off the feeling she always got after taking one. It was a mix of embarrassment and disappointment, something she’d rather not feel. She needed something else to distract her.

“Oh! I know.” Applejack grinned as she opened FarmLife on her laptop, putting the plastic water bottle Rain gave her during their session back on the desk. The best part of whatever Apple Bloom did to her computer was that her game progress synced with the progress on her phone.

For the next while, Applejack spent her time meandering on the game, completing mindless tasks and waiting for timers to run out. She enjoyed the game, but she couldn’t justify spending actual money on it.

She had sworn to herself that she wouldn’t play it anymore after it had all but consumed her free time in the hospital, but it was just so damn fun. Her little farm had grown into a large acreage of both crop and farm animals and it felt wrong to just give up the progress, even if it wasn’t real. Plus, something about the stupid little tasks felt like she had something to work for. It was just a silly game, but at least it was a fun way to pass time.

At some point, the sound of knocking at the door shook Applejack out of her FarmLife-induced tunnel vision. She looked over as the door opened to reveal Big Mac with a large paper bag in his grip. He held the door open as Apple Bloom ran in with a big smile and a pointy birthday hat on her head. Behind her, Granny and Apple Fritter followed, each of them sharing a look of amusement.

“Applejack!” Apple Bloom greeted excitedly as she ran up to her sister, who was in the process of backing out of the desk and facing her family. The redhead stopped short of Applejack and gave her a hug.

Applejack returned the hug eagerly, though she would never get used to having to slightly reach up to hug her little sister. “Hey, Bloom! Happy birthday!”

Apple Bloom smiled and stepped back to sit on Applejack’s bed. “Thanks! I made sure that we were able to come today ‘cause I wanted to spend time with ya.” She pointed at Fritter. “And I brought Fritter. She was itchin’ for a chance to come see ya, so I figured I’d talk Goldie into lettin’ her.”

“If by talk, you mean shoot puppy dog eyes and say it’s your birthday ‘til she gave in, then yeah,” Fritter put in with a chuckle. “It’s nice to see ya, cuz! You look real good. Just about ready to come back home, right?”

Applejack nodded, more than glad to see Apple Fritter after so long. It must have been very cold out judging by the way Fritter seemed all sorts of flushed and red-facd. “Soon enough, only two more weeks ‘til I’m done.” She almost wanted to say she was already ready to leave, but she knew that wasn’t exactly true. For all her advancements made in learning to use the wheelchair and build up her strength and independence when it came to moving, she was still getting used to the other things like putting on pants without a struggle, effectively getting in and out of the shower on her own, and other bathroom things. But mostly, she was learning really quickly.

“That’s, like, the best birthday gift I could ask for,” Apple Bloom earnestly said, bouncing on the edge of the bed. “Even if it’s two weeks late.”

Applejack sheepishly rubbed her neck. “Aw. And hey, speakin’ of birthday gifts, I couldn’t actually buy you anything, but I did get the chance to take some money out so…” She opened the little drawer next to the desk and took out an envelope that she’d prepared for Apple Bloom. In it was a card that Rain had offered to buy for her with a little message and a hundred-dollar bill. She looked over the pale yellow envelope and handed it to Apple Bloom. “Hope this is okay.”

Apple Bloom took the envelope and ripped it open in her excitement. She opened the card and went wide-eyed. “Wow! Are ya kiddin’? This is great!”

Granny tutted and snatched the bill. “Ya didn’t bring your wallet in your haste to get here, so I’ll hold onto this ‘fore ya lose it.”

“Okay,” Apple Bloom agreed, not at all seeming to disagree with the logic. Her eyes looked over the card as her smile grew even wider. “Aw, this is so sweet.” She glanced up to Applejack. “Thanks, AJ! I’m gonna keep this forever.”

She seriously doubted that, but Applejack appreciated the sentiment. “Just don’t spend the money on somethin’ foolish, alright?”

“Oh, I won’t. I’ll just buy a hundred bucks worth of FarmLife gems for you,” Apple Bloom teased, glancing over Applejack’s shoulder.

Applejack blushed and wheeled back around to shut her laptop. “I was just… checkin’ the game.”

“Yeah, checkin’ in on your giant farm, cuz?” Apple Fritter chimed in with a grin as she sat down next to Apple Bloom, leaving the other chair in the room for Granny while Big Mac leaned against the wall.

“There ain’t exactly a lot to do around here,” Applejack defended with a huff. “Anyway, enough about that. I can smell those burgers from here and I’m hungrier than a flea on a teddy bear.”

Big Mac held up the paper bag with a knowing smile.

Apple Bloom licked her lips in anticipation while Apple Fritter rolled her eyes. Big Mac dug into the bag and handed everyone their food. Apple Bloom and Granny got their usual burger and fries, while Fritter simply got some kind of chicken sandwich. Big Mac tossed Applejack two burgers and set aside two for himself.

Even though Apple Bloom seemed to take any excuse to have a hamburger which often meant that Applejack had to have one of her own, she was glad to have something other than the same meals she’d been having every day.

As she unwrapped her burger, eager to take the first bite of her food, the door opened once more. Everyone turned to look at the same time. In the doorway, frozen halfway in the room with a bag in hand, stood Thistle. He glanced at Applejack with a confused expression. Everyone then turned to look at her with similarly confused glances.

Applejack stared at them with her mouth wide open for a bite, then shut it abruptly. “Oh, shit.”

Author's Note:

Nother chapter! This one was kind of hard to write for some reason, but I got it done and to a place where I felt it was good enough.

We finally learn some of Rain’s backstory, and why he works the job he does (and why he’s so good at using the wheelchair). Moral of the story: Don’t drink and drive, y’all! We also find out that it’s Apple Bloom’s birthday, which for those of you who follow the blog, actually is today (November 18th) which is why I wanted to post today even though it’s a Friday and I usually do Saturday nights.

This chapter is a two-parter, so next week’s chapter is a continuation of this one, if the abrupt ending wasn’t making that obvious. I had to go and check that this story had the “Narcotics” tag, which it already did. I was sure it did, and I was pretty sure it had it since the beginning, but I had to make sure. If ever you feel that a tag is missing, especially any of the red tags, please let me know :)

Let me know your thoughts on the chapter down below if you’d like. I’m always up for discussing!

The Ty Pozzobon Foundation intends to break the stigma of mental health and wellbeing among Westerners and those who live its lifestyle.

Ty Pozzobon Foundation was established in February of 2017. Tanner Byrne and Chad Besplug were two of Ty’s closest friends and western lifestyle participants. They were instrumental in starting the Ty Pozzobon Foundation. Chad Besplug stated, “we want to break the stigma and start the conversation about mental health”. No one should have to battle this demon on their own. Bull riders would share advice on how to stay on top of a bull. Now they are sharing advice on how to stay on top of life.

The Amberley Snyder Freedom Foundation intends to give support and resources to youth and young adults living with disabilities to help them grow their confidence and independence.

The mission of Amberley Snyder Freedom Foundation is to provide youth and young adults with special needs and disabilities tools and services which will support their freedom, growth, happiness and independence. The ASFF will give youth or young adults the opportunity to utilize their strengths and continue to improve regardless of their personal challenges and situations. The focus of ASFF is to create and support environments of personal growth and unyielding progress.

Ty Pozzobon and Amberley Snyder are both big contributors to the rodeo community and beyond.

Pozzobon, unfortunately, took his own life at the young age of 25 despite being a top rodeo cowboy after many concussions. It was discovered that he suffered from CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a progressive and often fatal brain disease usually caused by repeated head trauma. He is the first case documented in a bull-rider. After his passing, his brain was donated to science in the hopes that it would help doctors learn more about this disease. [source]

Snyder was a rising star in the barrel racing scene. After a car crash rendered her unable to use her legs, she never gave up and worked hard, even getting back into the saddle only 4 months after the accident. When asked what her goals were for recovery she said it was simple. Walk. Ride. Rodeo. She retaught herself how to ride and how to barrel race and even made an appearance in The American in 2015 as the fan exemption. Snyder still appears in professional competition to this day despite having to quite literally buckle in and strap into her saddle. She is all sorts of inspirational, delivering many speeches and talks and showing support. She even has her own book titled Walk. Ride. Rodeo. and a Netflix movie of the same title. [source]