Horse adds heart to woman’s recovery

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Bev Klapperich has a firm hold of the reins and a new lease on life after a difficult diagnosis earlier this year.

On Jan. 3 Bev went into Kalispell Regional Medical Center where it was discovered she had a large, benign frontal brain tumor. She wouldn’t return home again for more almost four weeks.

The tumor was successfully removed Jan. 6 and over the next 18 days Bev went through an intense therapy program in the brain rehab unit to regain her memory and balance, and strengthen her speech and walking.

On the 10th day she recalls waking up and noticing her eyes had returned to their original blue after having turned gray during her post-op recovery. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She began to remember parts of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech; and she thought, “I’m back.”

After leaving the hospital she stayed at her daughter’s home for several days. Over the next 45 days family members cared for her in her own home while she continued therapy.

Bev began raising money this summer to help with her medical expenses by organizing rummage sales. People also began donating items to her fundraising efforts. She also advertised for healthy farm animals, feed and fencing to build a menagerie, some purchased and plenty donated.

“When I left my home in January I had two cats,” she laughed. “Now I have rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and a baby goat a friend gave me.”

For many years, Bev and her husband Barry had owned Spring Prairie Gardens in Whitefish. Barry was a horse trainer and farrier. He later worked as a horsepacker and led dude rides in Glacier Park. Although Bev grew up on a ranch in Iowa with 400-plus beef cows, she had never ridden a horse. After they married she began riding and training colts and, after they moved to Montana in 1981, they led horsepack trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness for a year.

After Barry died in 2002, Bev sold six of their horses and gave the last to a friend.

With all the other animals now sharing her homestead, she decided it would be a good time to bring horses back on the property and hopefully to help with her ongoing recovery. She began advertising for one. A woman responded, wishing to donate a quarter horse to Bev. The woman’s sister had raised her from birth and she was well-trained.

Serendipitously, it’s likely that Bev’s husband had at one time shod the horse she now owns. Princess Sophie, or “Sophie” as Bev calls her, is a beautiful 18- or 19-year-old paint mix sorrel. Although she hasn’t ridden her yet, she plans to one day. For now the two have established a gentle relationship involving copious brushing and frequent treats.

“I feel like God and my husband Barry gave me this horse,” Bev said.

Before her diagnosis Bev apprenticed with Raymond Mariscal Jr., owner of HealthFirst Clinical Massage Therapies in the KM Building in Kalispell. The two remain partners and Bev has moved her practice, HealthRelax Clinical Massage Therapies, to her home on Spring Prairie Road.

She’s also hoping to re-open Spring Prairie Gardens in 2018.

Even with all those irons in the fire, Bev also works part time for the Inter Lake as one of our skip drivers, delivering papers twice a week for those whose delivery was missed.

Although she still has some memory problems and confusion, she says she is doing very well and thanks her doctors and all her therapists.

“I had wonderful care and caregivers,” she said. “They saved my life.”

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