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Horses helping humans: equine therapy helps child injured during Haitian earthquake

Horses helping humans: horse therapy helps child injured during Haitian earthquakePort-Au-Prince, Haiti --Judeley Hans Debel runs as fast as his prosthetic leg can take him when he arrives at a Haitian equestrian center. A riding session with his favorite horse is the highlight of his week.
 
“You’re the best horse, you’re the best horse,” the 9-year-old boy says soothingly to a tan polo pony named Tic Tac when he arrives at her stable.
 
Pretty soon, he’s sitting high and proud on Tic Tac’s back at the Port-au-Prince equestrian center that offers therapeutic riding to disabled youngsters. Advocates say it improves their balance, coordination and confidence, with the movements of the horse mimicking pelvic motions involved in human walking. The riding also provides muscle and nerve stimulation.
 
Judeley’s unemployed single mother, Nerlande Jean Philippe, says the free weekly sessions offer her son a welcome respite from a life of urban poverty. She struggles to support him and has to do her best maintaining his battered prosthetic leg as he grows because she can’t afford a new one.
 
“He’s a very determined, strong boy. But the horses give him even more strength and he just loves to come here,” she said at the Centre Equestre Chateaublond hidden behind a concrete wall along Port-au-Prince’s winding Route de Freres.
 
Judeley was one of an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 people to undergo amputations after the powerful earthquake that devastated Haiti’s capital seven years ago.
 
Just 2½ years old at the time, his tiny body was pinned under jagged rubble at his shattered concrete home and he was scarred by burning oil from the crushed stove. His mother spent hours frantically digging him out and then rushed him to a hospital where doctors amputated his right leg just below his crotch.