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VERNAL — A Honeyville teen has a long road of recovery ahead after a saddle bronc accident Saturday.
The accident occurred around 10:15 p.m. at a high school rodeo at the Western Park Arena in Vernal, according to a Gold Cross Ambulance official. Briggs Madsen, 16, was competing in saddle bronc for the Bear River Rodeo Club when the horse reared over backwards in the chute, smashing him against the back gate, according to longtime family friend Clel Robinson.
Robinson, a Duchesne resident, was at the rodeo when the accident happened and said the horse "threw a pretty good fit."
"The horse was pretty violent there for a second," Robinson said. "I mean, it was pretty ugly. … He was hanging onto the gate and when we got him out, he couldn't feel his legs."
Madsen was transported by ambulance to an area hospital before being airlifted to Primary Children's Hospital in serious condition. Robinson said Madsen's injuries were non-life threatening, but he had several broken ribs and doctors had to perform surgery to fuse several vertebrae in his spine.
"Essentially, the doctor told Briggs that it's going to take a lot of work, and if he works, he's going to be walking and if he doesn't work, he's not going to walk," Robinson said.
Madsen began riding sheep and steers when he was about 4 years old and has been hooked on bull riding and saddle bronc riding ever since, Robinson said. As a 10-year-old, Madsen won the world championship in junior miniature bull riding in November 2010 and was featured in a New York Times article.
"I think the focus was that he just wanted to be a great cowboy," Robinson said. "And any event that he competed in, he did it at a high level."
While the accident will put a temporary halt on Madsen's bull riding, Robinson said he is willing to work to get back and continue competing.
"I think he's ready to go ahead and start working," he said. "But, he is still in quite a bit of pain."
A GoFundMe campaign* was set up to help the Madsen family with expenses incurred by the accident, and Robinson said the community has really rallied around them.
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