Page last updated at 05:55 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 06:55 UK

Horse therapy aids boy's mobility


Dyfan Wynne has a rare genetic condition called disorder chromosome 8 deletion

The parents of a four-year-old with a rare genetic disorder say he is being helped by horse riding.

Dyfan Wynne, from Wrexham, is the only known child in Britain with the condition called 'Chromosome 8 deletion'.

It has left him with poor eyesight, learning difficulties and the need for heart operations.

But hippotherapy, physiotherapy on horseback, has helped him learn to walk and increased his self-confidence.

The youngster progressed so well with the hippotherapy sessions that he is now in the 'vaulting' classes - effectively gymnastic movements on horseback.

Dyfan's mother Helen said the treatment for her son has changed his life.

Dyfan Wynne
Dyfan was unable to walk before starting the hippotherapy treatment

"When Dyfan was born we were given the prognosis that he wouldn't really walk or talk," she explained.

"When he was two-and-a-half, he still hadn't walked and the social worker suggested that he try this new therapy that was called hippotherapy.

"We had never heard of it, but we thought we'd give it a go and jumped at the chance."

"He's been amazing, within six months of doing that he was walking.

"It's given him confidence, he absolutely loves horses now."

Tessa Chew is the manager of Clwyd Special Riding Centre for the Disabled, where Dyfan has his lessons.

Despite the apparent contradiction in putting someone with mobility difficulties on the back of a horse, she explained how the therapy really benefits individuals like Dyfan.

"The physiotherapist uses the movement of the horse, putting the rider in different positions on the horse, aiming to create new movement patterns in the rider which are much more normal," she said.

Helen Wynne

He's got the confidence to try things - running and jumping

Helen Wynne, Dyfan's mother

"When he finished his hippotherapy treatment it was decided that he would move onto vaulting.

"The main thing that vaulting could target for him is improving his balance and coordination and that was going to be the best way to work at his walking.

"He's just gone from strength to strength."

Dyfan's condition is so rare that there are only five people in the world known to have it.

His parents said they have had to become experts themselves, as the medical profession knows so little about it.


However, with the help of hippotherapy and the vaulting, they believe Dyfan now has a much better quality of life.

"It's just given him full mobility, when he had nothing before. He's got co-ordination. He's got the confidence to try things - running and jumping," said mother, Helen.

"He does competitions, he's got lots of rosettes that he's very proud off.

"Hopefully he'll do riding - even dressage, it doesn't stop here, it can continue to whatever he wants to do."

His father Dean, added: "I didn't think he'd be able to do it at all to be honest with you. I thought 'he can't even walk - how is he going to be able to ride a horse?'. He really proved us wrong there.

"When he turns round on the horse and waves at you and shouts 'Daddy - I'm doing it - I'm doing it', it just pulls at your heart."

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