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LEHI, Utah (AP) -- Every day 6-year-old Dallin Hunsaker takes a 30-minute ride on Chick, a specially trained horse used to provide therapy for the boy, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Advocates of hippotherapy say the rhythm of the horse's walk is transferred to the patient's pelvis and helps normalize muscle tone, improves balance and may help the patient to walk.
The Hunsakers bought the horse, moved to their Lehi home about a year and a half ago and built a fence to keep the horse on their two-acre property.
But now they have been told they are violating zoning regulations.
In the process of trading land with the city so they could put in a straight fence line, the Hunsakers found out the land does not have animal rights. They say they were told it did when they bought the property.
The City Council recently voted 3-2 to deny the family's request for a zone change that would allow them to keep the horse.
"We're literally at a loss. We don't know where to go," said DaraLyn Hunsaker, the boy's mother.
The Planning Commission had unanimously recommended approval on the zone change about a month ago.
However, Councilman James Dixon said changing the zoning might set a precedent for any property owner with a large piece of land to ask for animal rights.
Some council members also said they were concerned about spot zoning -- zoning a small piece of property differently than the surrounding property.
A neighboring family opposed the zone change, saying it would lower their property value.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)