Nikeela Abrams

Nikeela Black, among the best female jockeys in Idaho, was paralyzed from the ribs down in a racing accident Sept. 2 in Blackfoot, Idaho. Following spinal surgery she has spent several weeks recovering and adjusting to life in a wheelchair at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, seen here Oct. 17.

Forty-five days after the accident, Nikeela Black sat in her room at Craig Hospital cataloging all she could remember, writes Idaho Press reporter Riley Bunch. She recalls telling the three other riders to keep their horses in their lanes right before her fourth race of the day, two wins already under her belt.

Then came the accident, when her horse fell during a race at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot on Sept. 2. Arguably the best female horse jockey in Idaho, Nikeela Black, also known by her married name Nikeela Abrams, was paralyzed from the ribs down.

After 11-½ hours of surgery for her extensive injuries, Black is now at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., where she spends every day, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., in a series of therapy sessions designed to strengthen her to be as independent as possible while navigating the world in a wheelchair. She hasn’t missed one session in her five weeks at Craig. “It gets easier each week,” she said. You can read Bunch’s gripping story on Nikeela Black’s journey along the road to recovery online here at (subscription required), or pick up Sunday’s Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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