"Horses are very gentle and kind to the weak," Dr. Masanao Murai said. "A child suffering from cerebral palsy can sit on a horse and feel the animal's warmth. He can see farther. The horse's movement reaches the child's brain through the spine, so that a child who cannot walk feels he has one body with the horse, and is himself walking."

Murai keeps horses at his Warashibe Institutes for the Physically Handicapped in Osaka and Hokkaido. He is keen on importing Connemara ponies from Ireland, and hoping to breed from them in a long-term project to provide suitable mounts. Riding, however, is only one of the therapies for the disabled that he practices and promotes.

He came in a roundabout way to the work that he has been doing for many years. Belonging to a Shikoku family, he grew up in Korea before the war.