RIDING HIGH: MAGIC HORSE PROGRAM HELPS INJURED TEEN BRITTANY SABER HEAL IN TIME FOR GRADUATION

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By Marisa Kezirian

June 10, 2009 (Lakeside)—Once again at The Magic Horse Therapeutic Riding Center in Lakeside, the power of the healing horses and their ability to make life-enhancing differences for disabled people and their families proves successful, as rider Brittany Saber makes huge progress with her strength of mind and determination.

Less than a year after a devastating car accident in which a drunk driver slammed into Brittany’s car on Interstate-15, the 18-year-old was able to graduate with her senior class at Mt. Carmel High School in Rancho Penasquitos. The accident left her on life support for six months. She was not expected to recover, as she had broken both femurs and suffered from traumatic brain injury.

“We were told several times that she probably wouldn’t make it, and we needed to accept that she would never talk, walk, or be functional,” Saber’s mother Alyesha Saber told NBC News. Brittany Saber spent six months in a coma and another six months involved in physical therapy, yet she was able to fulfill her graduation requirements and make the steps up to the podium to receive her diploma. She now wants to become an ICU nurse as a tribute to those remarkable individuals that helped her toward her own recovery.

Truly, Brittany's story is amazing, and her survival is considered a miracle, as doctors believed she would not make it. Every Saturday Brittany dedicates her time to recovery at the Riding Center, where she works with a horse named Fire. He challenges Brittany into working hard as she learns and develops more advanced riding skills. Fire is patient and cooperative, and very compatible with Brittany. Heather Rideout, Chris Rideout, Connie Noble, and Larry Pawl are the volunteers who have also helped Brittany progress while she has been working with Fire.

“It’s a truly motivating experience for Brittany as she has developed an emotional relationship with the horse” said Robin Pawl, owner and operator of the Riding Center. “The riding helps Brittany’s motor skills as there are lots of buckles which require her fingers to work and move. The riding also challenges Brittany’s body, and requires her weak side to stay in balance, so it helps both her coordination and core strength. Throughout her ride, Brittany experiences a constant motion where her hands, legs, and muscles all work simultaneously as she leads her horse. As a result of her progress Brittany now rides off lead, and guides the horse herself. She has made remarkable progress in her riding and has learned higher level skills.”

As a result of extensive medical expenses, Brittany's family is $6.5 million in debt. If you would like to help, there are several options:

Share this information with someone else

Become a volunteer

Sponsor Brittany's riding lessons – ($30/lesson, $300/10 lessons)

To sponsor Brittany make checks out to "The Magic Horse,” write "Brittany" in the memo area, and send them to: The Magic Horse Therapeutic Riding Center,13642 Vicinio del Este Place,Lakeside, CA 92040.

For more information, call (619)672-6935.

Marisa Kezirian is a student at San Diego State University and an intern with East County Magazine.