Her nickname in the pediatric intensive care unit was "Little Cowgirl."
Nurses and physicians could tell Greer Cofield was a tough tomboy of a 5-year-old. Her legs sported the nicks and bruises of a girl who loved to play outside.
But as Greer battled for life on a ventilator, the right side of her skull and face crushed by a horse's hooves, no one was sure if she'd survive -- much less run and play again.
On Oct. 8, 2012, Greer had gone to horseback riding lessons at a farm not too far from her Cartersville, Ga., home. She and her mother, Shannon, ventured into the pasture, searching for Greer's favorite horse.
What happened next is remembered only in snippets: A different horse, charging and rearing.
A flash of light. And Greer, limp and face down in the grass.
"When I rolled her over, it looked like something from a horror movie," said Shannon Cofield. A huge cut stretched across her daughter's forehead, and her face was smashed inward. There was more and more blood.
Corey Davidson, who owns the farm, saw the commotion in the pasture and sprinted with his wife to Shannon and Greer's side. He ripped off his Carhartt jacket and pressed it to Greer's bleeding head, then kneeled in the dirt and prayed out loud. It was all he knew to do.
The ambulance had to be driven right into the pasture, where Richard Whatley and other Bartow County EMS paramedics worked to stabilize the girl.
"She would cry out in pain, but after a little while she slipped into unconsciousness," Whatley described.
A Life Force helicopter landed shortly after and the crew flew Greer to T.C. Children's Hospital at Erlanger.
Scans of Greer's skull showed a web of pulverized bone, with fractures at the base of the skull, her cheek and across her eye socket and forehead.
She was put in the hands of Dr. Larry Sargent, a reconstructive surgeon and founder of the Tennessee Craniofacial Center.
Over roughly a four-hour surgery, Sargent painstakingly pieced together Greer's face with plates, screws and special bone-mesh he designed.
"Dr. Sargent put our daughter back together like a puzzle and made her beautiful again," Shannon Cofield said. "Many people have asked if Dr. Sargent had seen a picture of Greer prior to her accident. To clear the record, the answer is no."
To read more about Greer and her story, visit http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/jun/06/back-in-the-saddle/?local