Dog and horse help teen diagnosed with epilepsy compete in Houston Rodeo

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

HOUSTON - One 16-year-old competitive horseback rider thought she may have to give up her life's passion when she was diagnosed with epilepsy. However, life had other plans.

Two years ago, she met an animal that would be one of her best friends and one that would protect her and help her fulfill her dreams.

"I just love riding. I love the thrill of showing, and it's also just a stress reliever," said 16-year-old Madison Brown.

Brown has been riding ever since she was a little girl. 

"Basically since I was a baby," she said.

It is her passion, and she works on her skills every day.

However, four years ago, Brown was worried.

"I was diagnosed with epilepsy," she said.

Her condition gave her unpredictable seizures, forcing her to be homeschooled. She gave up sports and was worried she'd have to give up riding, too.

"I wouldn't want to go out, in fear that I would have a seizure," Brown said.
But that's when life handed her a lemon -- a sweet one -- a sweet labradoodle named Zeke.

"We got him when he was 9 months old, and we started training with a professional for seizure alert and response," Brown said.

Zeke can sense when a seizure is coming, and when he does, he lets Brown know.

"He'll paw me, and that tells me, 'Hey, you're about to have a seizure.' So then I just get into the safest place I know," Brown said.

When Brown was also diagnosed with a heart condition, Zeke also learned to warn her about her heart rate. He spins, Brown said. He even goes under her legs while she is lying down or sitting to help her slow her heart rate down, according to Brown.

One time, Brown said, he was spinning frantically, and she knew what to do.

"Sure enough, (my heart rate was) in the 200s, and I don't know if I would have passed out if he didn't alert me to it," Brown said.

Zeke checks on her constantly and can give 20-minute alerts.

"It's amazing what he does," Brown said.

Her other best friend, her quarterhorse, Warrior, also helps her calm down.

"He's always there for me," Brown said. "When I'm down, I love on him. Without both of these (animals), I don't know what I'd do."

These animals give her life, Brown said.

"They're both my everything, honestly," Brown said.

The animals make it possible for Brown to do what she loves riding. Brown competed in the Houston Rodeo's Youth Horse Show.

"I always say you can put the ability in disability," Brown said.

She says the two are her best friends.

"They work together. It's all teamwork," Brown said.

Shortly after, Zeke nipped Warrior in the nose.

"They love each other," Brown laughed.

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