James Scott “Jim” Brady was born on August 29th, 1940 in the small city of Centralia, Illinois. After graduating in 1962 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brady began a career in public service that eventually led him to the White House. On January 20th, 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Brady as his Press Secretary. Appreciation of his dedicated service was made evident when the White House press briefing room was named in his honor.
After only 3 months in the White House, Brady’s fearless dedication to his country and President was tested. On March 30th, 1981, Brady was shot in the head by John Hinkley Jr during a failed assassination attempt on President Reagan. The wound that he sustained was so severe that the news media falsely reported he was dead. In fact, Brady did not succumb to his injury but he was left paralyzed and forced to use a wheel chair. Subsequently, Brady became a well-known advocate for stricter legislation regarding handgun control.
Brady endured intensive physical therapy after becoming paralyzed. To make his therapy more enjoyable, he decided to try therapeutic riding with his beloved horse, Bernie. In the following years, the therapeutic riding was so physically beneficial that Brady surprised his doctors with his rapid improvement and was actually able to walk without a cane! He proclaimed that the therapeutic riding helped him gain balance and muscle control more so than his conventional physical therapy. Melba Meakin, co-founder of Horses in California, met him in 1987 and recalls how important and holistic a form of exercise he considered riding to be–"Mr. Brady felt that riding Bernie gave him an emotional lift and a sense of independence."
In 1987, James S. Brady gave Horses in California permission to use his name in a program helping disabled Bay Area youngsters to gain strength, courage and self-esteem through the care and riding of horses. His legacy continues to grow with each student that is helped by the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program.