Leonie Moxham-Smith received a brain injury when she fell off her horse. She had owned and ridden horses all her life, and cannot recall any details of her accident. All she knows is, the horse she was riding was spooked and took off unexpectedly. When the horse swerved to miss a tree, Leonie fell off head first into that tree. In her hurry that morning Leonie had not put on her usual skull cap that she wore riding, and had on a felt hat instead.

Leonie was air lifted to Palmerston North Hospital, and had to spend time in an induced coma. She was then transferred to Hamilton so that she could be nearer family. Doctors told her family she would probably never walk or talk again, and would probably end up a vegetable.

“To my family’s credit they stuck by me, showing love and support. Without their many prayers and love, I would have been a lot worse off” says Leonie.

Leonie has since proven the doctors verdict wrong, and has far exceeded their original diagnosis.

The biggest hurdle Leonie had to face was coming to the realization that her husband and then young children weren’t around anymore. Her husband was not able to cope with all the ramifications, and left her. Her children were faced with the reality of not having a mother involved in their day to day life.

“I coped with this by telling myself it was all a bad dream” says Leonie.

Eventually Leonie realised she had to come to terms with it being actual reality.

“I was dealt with two big whammies at once. The breakdown of my marriage, and the fact that I now lived alone in Hamilton after suffering a severe head injury” says Leonie.

Leonie was unable to return to her job she had loved prior to her accident. The meds she had to take caused weight gain, and she has found it harder to shed the kilos – especially with not being able to ride and be around horses anymore.

THINK! has supported Leonie in a number of ways. It has provided a forum where people can get together and share their stories in an informal way, and support each other.

“I think we are truly blessed to have this facility. We have not been left to fend for ourselves under the Hamilton bridge, and the people I have met through this experience have been quite mind blowing!” says Leonie.

“I feel rather like the $6 million dollar woman, rebuilt from scratch and ready to take on the world!”