Jamie ‘Dodge” Manning is a man who is not afraid to take a bull by the horns.
After a car accident in March 2014 left him with burns to 40 per cent of his body, took away a leg and part of his hand, the former rodeo rider still has a “No one can tell me I can’t do that” attitude.
Dodge passed through Cobar last week on his 600km horse ride from Tilpa to Dubbo to raise money and awareness for Limbs for Life.
Two and a half years ago Dodge was hospitalised for four months after he was badly burned in a car accident near his Dubbo home.
He was pulled from the burning vehicle by a passer by, Cobar man Tom Mitchell, and former Cobar couple Brock Lawrence and Katie Abbott. (The three recently received bravery medals for their efforts to help save Dodge.)
As a result of his injuries and burns, Dodge then had his left leg amputated above the knee and all of the digits of this left hand removed.
Dodge said Limbs for Life, a not-for-profit charity had helped him in his recovery.
“It’s run by amputees. They provide information for wound care, new products that are on the market, and little tips and hints to help you get by. They also offer a peer support network,” Dodge explained.
He said they helped to connect him with other people who had similar injuries.
“They try and match people with similar circumstances and they come out and find out what their needs are and help them through.
“There’s a lot of help that can come out of hospitals once you’re there, but when you leave it’s very hard to get help on your own,” he said.
“The leg I’ve got is $100,000; $170,000 by the time we did the trial and go through all the sockets to get the right one. It’s probably got to be replaced every five years. If you haven’t got insurance, it’s a lot to come up with it.”
He said Limbs for Life can also help people psychologically who are trying to adjust to their new circumstances.
To show his appreciation and give something back to Limbs for Life, Dodge decided to organise a ride to raise money and awareness.
Dodge said the idea of being out in the countryside and riding for a couple of weeks was also very appealing.
He said for the past two years he and his wife Karen had been carting their three kids, Jedd 15, Bray 12 and Lori 7, in and out of hospitals in Sydney for his operations and treatments.
Dodge said it also gave them the opportunity to spend time with their beloved horses.
Although he grew up as a “townie” in Scone, Dodge got his first taste of riding a steer as a teenager.
“I thought this is fun. I got that addiction, and from there I just never looked back.”
He started riding rodeo circuits and turned professional, even competing in the USA.
For a while Dodge was based in Texas and California riding and later taught others to ride in Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
He holds the Guinness Book of Records record for longest mechanical bull ride of 2mins 4secs.
“I was riding at the Sydney Show and they asked me to have a go at it. A mechanical bull is so much different to the real thing,” he said.
Dodge said he chose to start the ride at Tilpa because “it’s beautiful country and has beautiful people”.
He said rain had forced them to change their original riding route (they were going on to Louth and then Bourke) and came directly from Tilpa and through Cobar last week before heading on to Bourke.
Dodge said they had received a fantastic welcome in Cobar by David “Crockett” Brown and the Cobar community.
On average he (and most days his wife Karen or one of the kids) have been riding around 30kms or six hours in the saddle.
“I’ve been going through a bit of pain.
“But what does keep me going is thinking about the people we are doing it for, the other amputees that need help.
“I wanted to show people just because you’re limited doesn’t mean you can’t do something.
“You can still go and achieve whatever you want to achieve.”