Woman reveals how she rebuilt her life after being crushed by a horse

A young woman is pushing for females to become tradies and take advantage of lucrative jobs after a horrific accident changed the way she views the world.

When Hacia Atherton was told she ‘would never walk again’ she felt her soul leave her body and says those four words were somehow more painful than her injuries.

The 34-year-old from was 29 when she was training for the equestrian championships and her 600kg, horse reared up, threw her off, then fell on her.

Hacia Atherton, 34, wants to help give women opportunities in male-dominated trades after having to conquer her own battles to learn to walk again

Hacia Atherton, 34, wants to help give women opportunities in male-dominated trades after having to conquer her own battles to learn to walk again

The young woman had to have a nine-hour surgery following the accident and has had 18 operations since

The young woman had to have a nine-hour surgery following the accident and has had 18 operations since

She was told she would never walk in a meaningful way again - here she is working hard to prove doctors wrong

She was told she would never walk in a meaningful way again – here she is working hard to prove doctors wrong

‘I remember falling to the ground and her falling on top of me, I pushed her off and crawled as fast as I could away from her so I wouldn’t be trampled when she found her feet,’ she told FEMAIL.

‘I couldn’t feel my legs and remember thinking ‘this is it, this is over’,’ she said.

‘Everything broke in that moment, pts terbaik sumatera not just my body, but the way I saw the world.’ 

Hacia was rushed into a nine-hour surgery where doctors worked to stabilise her, and found that she had a badly crushed pelvis, nerve damage and an injury to her spine an the muscles supporting it.

When she woke up she was told she would probably never walk again in a ‘meaningful’ way.

As an athlete in the equestrian world and somebody who saw her entire identity as being centred around getting physical she was floored. 

‘It was kind of like my soul was taken out of my body and I was just a bag bones skin muscle lying there with no purpose to do anything. I was alive but what made me live was gone.’ 

But now she has found a new identity – helping women access jobs in male-dominated trades so they can provide for themselves and their families.

Hacia was riding at a national level when she came off and her 600kg horse landed on her

Hacia was riding at a national level when she came off and her 600kg horse landed on her 

She thought her partner would leave her after the accident but they have since married

She thought her partner would leave her after the accident but they have since married

The young woman first ‘fell in love with trades’ before the accident when she worked in her family’s factory ‘as a welder’.

Despite loving the job the young woman was pre-occupied with her horse riding and the corporate job she had secured after studying business at university.

But the accident changed everything for Hacia, from her goals which became centred around learning to walk again, to her core identity. 

117 days after her horror fall the determined young woman stood up on her own for the very first time.

Five months later she was walking up to 900metres with a frame and in two years she could walk 5km on her own.

‘When I made those first successful steps I didn’t have that mindset of enjoyment. I was just pushing myself to ease everyone else’s pain,’ she said.

‘I felt like a machine, going through the motions to make everyone I loved happy.’

But somewhere on her journey back to mobility the young woman did find that joy. 

‘After that fits 5km I was in a different headspace. I was standing there with my partner and dogs just overflowing with gratitude and joy. I realised how much magic there is in the world,’ she said.

Before that life-changing moment she had been riddled with self doubt.

‘I would think ‘you used to be a high level athlete and now you can’t walk a kilometre without assistance and struggle with your bladder’.’

She has since learned to run and even completed a half marathon

She has since learned to run and even completed a half marathon

She has two computers in her body to help regulate pain and make her muscles strengthen, she will need both hips replaced in the future

She has two computers in her body to help regulate pain and make her muscles strengthen, she will need both hips replaced in the future

Hacia says she ‘wakes up to a wall of pain every day, it emanates through her pelvis, hip and right leg and also caused headaches.

But knowing she has other people to help, through her charity ‘Empowered Women in Trades’ helps her face the agony of starting a new day.

‘It has given me a reason to live,’ she said of the work.

Hacia’s goal is to help 750,000 women secure jobs in male-dominated trades by 2030, boosting female representation from 3% to 25%.

‘If I had my experience in the factory at 17 I would have done a welding apprenticeship instead of going to university. I love the job and I love the environment,’ she said.

‘At university I had two passions, researching about the skills shortage and about the financial hardship of women, but I didn’t put two and two together,’ she said.

She fell in love with welding at her family's factory and wishes she had discovered it as a teenager

She fell in love with welding at her family’s factory and wishes she had discovered it as a teenager

Trades are still male-dominated and Hacia acknowledges the women will need to be trailblazers but is offering to give them the mental tools to push through.

‘I learned so much about positive psychology in hospital and now know that women in trades don’t feel like there is that psychological safety in the industry.

‘So we are giving them the training and the support so that’s no longer a barrier,’ she said.

The charity offers a one week program where women can ‘get their hands on the tools’, spend time on a construction site and try a few different jobs to get the right fit.

They are then supported to find an apprenticeship with a company that supports women in trades and to find the right Tafe course.

Hacia says that her friends and family pushed her to walk again

Hacia says that her friends and family pushed her to walk again

‘There are some great businesses out there who would love to hire women but there aren’t any applying for the jobs,’ she said.

Most of the trade jobs she helps women get pay between $80,000 and $90,000 as a base salary, before overtime.

‘It is heartbreaking when women tell me that there are no job opportunities for them, especially where they can earn a decent living wage.

‘It reminds me of when I was in hospital thinking I no longer had opportunities, that walking wasn’t on the table for me,’ she said.

 ‘I become furious when I see women noticing lucrative job offers on the other side of the construction fence and believing that they aren’t opportunities for them,’ she said.

Hacia says she had briefly thought of creating a charity before the accident but it ‘would have looked a lot different’.

'It is heartbreaking when women tell me that there are no job opportunities for them, especially where they can earn a decent living wage.'

‘It is heartbreaking when women tell me that there are no job opportunities for them, especially where they can earn a decent living wage.’

She has had to do 18 surgeries since the accident

She has had to do 18 surgeries since the accident

‘I would have done it later in life and it would have been a school-based thing giving girls a chance to come to the family factory,’ she said.

The Atherton family manufacture medical and infection control equipment at their factory and are the manufactures in their field in Australia. 

They have 40 people working on their factory floor, but of the tradies none are women.

‘We can’t get women in to fill the jobs but we would love our workforce to be 50/

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