When Briana, 14, was born, most people thought she would never be able to walk, talk, or breathe without the help of a ventilator. Today, Briana is thriving. Not only is she walking, talking, and weaned off the vent, but she is also riding—horses, that is.
We recently met up with Briana and her nurse, Amy, during the first week of horse camp at Sunrise Farms, a non-profit horse farm offering therapeutic riding to children with special needs.
A Love of Horses
Briana is home schooled during the year to keep her body free from infection. This is why horse camp is such a treat. She loves being around other kids almost as much as she loves being around animals.
Even though it was storming on the day of our visit—and all the horses had to be tied down in the stable—Briana was all smiles. She introduces us to her favorite horses at the farm, including Snuggy, a Shetland pony, and Ben, a beautiful Palomino who shares a striking resemblance to Mister Ed. Both Snuggy and Ben are rescue horses that were adopted by Briana’s family.
Briana enjoys showing us what she has learned at camp so far, including basic grooming and feeding skills, and most important, how to ride a horse.
An Independent Spirit
Amy has been working as Briana’s day nurse for the last three years. “Briana loves to read and play with hair. I often leave my shift with 4 to 5 braids in my hair,” Amy laughs as she tells the story. Amy and Briana also spend a lot of time playing outside, including whiffle ball and soccer.
To help Briana gain more of her independence, Amy works hard to help teach Briana life skills, like counting money, running bath water, and putting toothpaste on her toothbrush.
Briana’s mom, Nancy, joins her daughter at horse camp every day to make sure she is safe. Nancy admits that her daughter’s love of animals may have been inherited. Nancy too loves to ride—and was instrumental in arranging horse camp for Briana this summer.
At the end of our visit, Briana leans over to her mom and kisses her on the cheek. “I love you mommy,” Briana whispers. She is truly thankful for this life-changing experience.