Brayden has been riding horses her entire life. It’s something she learned to do as a little kid, and her passion has continued to grow over the years. Even with that passion, Brayden’s diagnosis of cystic fibrosis held her back due to concern that the dust associated with riding would be a problem for her lungs.
Then last April, something remarkable happened.
“When I had my lungs scoped, my doctor said horseback riding actually is helping to clear my lungs!” said Brayden. “Growing up, a lot of people would blame my horses when I would get sick or they would be afraid to let me do certain things and go outside, but now my doctor is encouraging me to keep riding.”
“We learned the jarring and percussion from riding actually breaks down what’s in her lungs and the dust in the air helps to build her immune system,” said Brayden’s mom, Hannah. “It’s amazing to know something she loves so much also is benefiting her physical health.”
One day, while Brayden was at the hospital for one of her treatments, her physician mentioned Make-A-Wish Arizona.
“I thought wishes were only for very sick kids, so we were surprised Brayden qualified,” said Hannah. “We started the process and soon enough, she was thinking about her wish.”
Brayden, who recently started barrel racing, competes at events across the state. Since she lives in northern Arizona, it has been a challenge moving her horse, Magic, from place to place.
“I would have to carpool or share other people’s trailers to take Magic anywhere,” said Brayden. “Riding is one of my favorite things to do, but traveling became such an inconvenience for everyone that it started to feel like more of a burden than something fun.”
Brayden’s wish – to have a horse trailer – was a way for her to take her riding to the next level.
“I’m starting to compete in races almost every weekend, so I wasn’t picky about what the trailer would look like. I was just so excited to have one of my own!” she said.
Brayden couldn’t wait for her wish to come true, and then on her 15th birthday, she was treated to a huge surprise.
“I wasn’t expecting anything and then I looked out my window and saw my trailer!” she said. “It was the best birthday gift - brand new and so beautiful!”
Brayden’s trailer, which is specific to barrel racing horses, has many updated features like padding and saddle hooks. There are also several window areas for Magic to look out and steel reinforced floors to prevent his legs from tiring out on long trips.
“It’s truly amazing,” said Hannah. “I’m a single mom, so I could never be able to do this for Brayden on my own. Her wish means so much to us and it has been such a wonderful experience for her.”
Since receiving her new trailer, Brayden has even noticed Magic is performing better in races.
“Horses are very claustrophobic, so riding in other people’s trailers for hours can make Magic on edge,” she said. “But this trailer makes him comfortable and relaxed, so he performs beautifully.”
And there are even more great things in store for Brayden. She recently moved up a division to a 2D barrel racer and this summer, she’s invited to the Women’s National Barrel Horse Association championship race in Las Vegas.
“I’m really excited! I feel like the luckiest kid, and I’ll be competing with some of the best barrel racers in the country!” she said. “And now I have a way to get there on my own.”
Right now, Brayden is doing well. She still visits Phoenix Children’s Hospital every three months for treatments, but she is happy she can continue riding, now with the support from her doctor.
“Brayden takes six medications and needs two breathing treatments each day for her cystic fibrosis, so she turns to riding because it helps her feel like a normal kid,” said Hannah. “It’s such a great outlet for her, and now that she has her trailer, it’s helped her become more independent. She’s the happiest I’ve seen her in a long time.”
“My wish is the most positive experience that’s ever happened to me!” said Brayden. “I will have this trailer forever and I couldn’t think of a better wish.”