A horse named ‘Halo' saves owner's life

News photo by Emily Thiel

One Birdsboro woman knows you should always get back up on the horse that threw you. In Kathie Benson’s case, that fall from her horse lead to saving her life.

Benson began riding horses 13 years ago when she and her husband, Charlie, followed their daughter’s lead in becoming interested in the equestrian lifestyle. When the Bensons moved to Birdsboro, they started leasing a horse for their daughter, Charlene, now 25 years old, to ride.

“I figured if we were going to own a horse, I should learn how to ride,” Kathie Benson said. Benson prefers the English-style of riding, which is differentiated by the type of saddle.

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In February of this year, the Bensons got Halo, a 10-year-old thoroughbred horse, who is stabled at Fox Creek Farm.

Benson was riding Halo on a summer day in August when the horse bucked and threw Benson to the ground.

Due to the fall, Benson was bruised internally and made an appointment with her primary physician to seek medical care.

Not having gone for checkups on a regular basis, the doctor encouraged Benson to go for additional appointments and she followed through. To her shock, a small lump was found and she was diagnosed with having breast cancer.

On Dec. 3, she underwent surgery to have the lump removed.

“It saved my life, gave me the idea to go [to the doctor],” Benson said. She was worried that not seeing the doctor jeopardized her health. Benson is now in good health and not at risk for the cancer to come back at this point, but must still follow up with radiation.

When asked if this changed her mind about visiting the doctor on an annual basis, she quickly responded “Absolutely!” The lump would not have been found through self-examinations. “It would never been found if I didn’t go for testing,” she told The Southern Berks News.

The couple said they did not know what to do when she was first diagnosed. “Information was coming from everywhere - you don’t know what you should do,” the Bensons said. They worked with a nurse navigator to assist with the process and bring some ease to the patient.

“[Kathie] has now promised me she is going to go to the doctor on a regular basis,” Charlie Benson said. By sharing her story, Kathie’s goal is to spread the word to stress the importance of annual examinations.

Since the fall, Benson now wears a flack jacket in addition to the standard riding helmet, just in case Halo wants to send another message.

The relationship between the Benson’s and their horse is very special to them, even more so after Halo led to saving Kathie’s life.

“Bonding with them (the horses) is like bonding with another human being,” Charlie said.

As a Christmas gift, Charlie made a plaque with Halo’s name for her stall and painted it pink to represent breast cancer awareness.

As for Halo, Charlie said “she hasn’t bucked since.”

About the Author

Emily Thiel

Emily Thiel is the editor of The Southern Berks News and is the Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Emily joined Berks-Mont in March 2013. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2011 with a degree in English with a concentration in Cultural and Media Studies. Emily is a native of Allentown, Pa. Reach the author at ethiel@berksmontnews.com or follow Emily on Twitter: @sthrnberksnews.