‘He inspires me every day’: eight-year-old diagnosed with bone cancer to ride at national championships

  • An eight-year-old boy who was diagnosed with bone cancer last year has qualified for the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) National Championships.

    Dylan Ward and Chanele Dandridge’s Welsh section A gelding Inki won their qualifier to earn their ticket to the championships, which are running at Hartpury this weekend (15-17 July). He had support from the team at Keysoe International – and a Paralympic legend.

    “Dylan shows tremendous courage, strength and resilience every day – having undertaken almost a year of draining chemotherapy treatments,” a spokesman for Keysoe International said. “The cancer has left him with lifelong disabilities affecting his left side.

    “We first met Dylan last September when he came along to our Keysoe Cuddle Therapy Centre to meet the Keysoe ponies, and we’ve been good friends ever since!”

    The spokesman said throughout his illness, Dylan has “pushed through” to be able to ride Inki, including in the RDA regional qualifiers.

    “Seeing how determined Dylan was to do well, we asked his mum Jessica how we could help,” the spokesman said.

    “We got in touch with Natalie Banks from Peak Performance Horses and set up some private sessions for Dylan at Keysoe International to help perfect Dylan’s already great technique in preparation for his RDA qualifiers.”

    As a surprise, the Keysoe team organised a meeting with multiple medal-winning para dressage rider Lee Pearson, who said: “Dylan’s bravery and commitment inspires me to try harder and enjoy every day.”

    Dylan’s mother Jessica added: “It was just so beautiful. When we arrived Dylan got to meet Sir Lee Pearson and even got to wear one of his Tokyo gold medals. I can’t thank everyone involved for making it so, so special for Dylan – absolutely amazing.”

    Dylan and Inki scored 77.05% to win their qualifier.

    Keysoe International CEO Sarah Stoute said: “Due to how impressed we were with Dylan’s determination, and his obvious love and care for his pony Inki, we were more than happy to invest in Dylan, to make sure he is as prepared as he could be for the RDA National Championships. Good luck, Dylan!”

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