Miniature therapy horses visit patients at area medical facility - KCTV5

Miniature therapy horses visit patients at area medical facility

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Sweet Pea and Pippin therapy horses Sweet Pea and Pippin therapy horses

If their names don’t make you smile, their actions certainly will. Pippin, a male miniature horse, and Sweet Pea, a female miniature horse, brought their therapy skills into Truman Medical Centers’ New Frontiers mental health facility on Monday.

There, clients with Alzheimer’s, PTSD, and mental health illnesses received the horses’ special gift of therapy.

“She was just the sweetest thing I ever saw,” is how one patient reacted. “It made me feel special.”

Sweet Pea and Pippin may only be three feet tall, but they pack a lot of healing into their tiny frames.

“There was a 106-year-old man who had never reached out. He stuck his arm out to pet Sweet Pea to pet her for the first time in two years,” said Sharon White-Lewis of Pet Partners, the organization that trains the horses.

White-Lewis said miniature horses are used for therapy because they mirror the emotions of people and they aren’t too pushy.

Pet Partners is a national not-for-profit group that trains both volunteers and animals to visit hospitals, nursing homes, veterans’ centers and centers for victims of abuse.

"There was a little boy who has deformities and couldn’t stand. He held onto the side of her and stood. His dad cried. It was so neat," White-Lewis recalled.

Workers say many of TMC’s clients struggle with socialization, but not today.

“Today, you could tell they were smiling, laughing, and having a good time. It takes a lot for them to get to that point,” Ron Tankel, a TMC recreational therapist, said.

This was the first time Pet Partners brought the horses to TMC. Both the hospital and the group hope it becomes a regular occurrence.

For more information on Pet Partners, click here.

For more information on TMC’s New Frontiers, click here

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