From fast balls to fast horses, a Tuttle baseball player found a passion for the rodeo after an accident nearly killed him.
Payton Benson grew up around horses, but he dreamed of playing baseball until that accident forced him to return to his roots, all inspired by a special girl named Macie.
“Played baseball all my life, as long as I can remember,” Benson said.
As a junior at Tuttle High School, he pictured the sport far into in his future until September 2011.
“Last thing I can remember of that night was sitting on the railroad tracks talking,” he said.
His truck slipped out of control on a country road, sending him to the hospital and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
“They told me and I didn't believe it,” he remembers. “I thought baseball; I’m not going to be able to do it anymore.”
So he turned to something familiar, horses.
“The day I got out of the hospital, I came out here and got on a 20 year old gelding we had and rode just in a plain saddle,” he said.
Wanting more speed, he saved up some money to buy a cutting horse.
“I went in there and that horse walked out of the stall and just stuck its head in my lap and I thought I gotta buy it.”
Macie, the horse, and Benson made an instant connection.
“It's like a good dog, it won't leave your side, listens,” Benson said.
Benson had a special saddle made to help stabilize him while he rides. He also relies on a lift and a few friends to help him mount.
“At first, I was a little shaky and a little scared but I just worked hard at it, just like baseball, it's that same mentality and just went for it,” he said.
While told he'll never walk again, Benson made significant improvements through therapy. Now 21, he continues riding and practices roping every chance he gets, always with his girl by his side.
“I've been offered good money for her and I won't sell her, that connection I have with her, can't do it,” he said. “She made me realize there's more to life than just baseball.”
Benson hopes to compete in the United States Team Roping Championships this summer.