Equines in Community Service, Animal Assisted Therapy
 
 

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Equines in Community Service, Animal Assisted Therapy

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  • Wee whinnies therapeutic minis
  • Animaux service

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    09-20-2011, 03:58 PM
  #1
Yearling
Smile Equines in Community Service, Animal Assisted Therapy

Hi,

Not sure where to start, some of you may have seen a similar thread in the Miniature Horse section of the Forum, it was requested that I start a Community Service thread here for those who may not frequent that part of the Forum.
I guess I will start by sharing my stories and photos with you. So here goes!

I have been wanting to use my miniatures for animal assisted therapy for quite awhile now, and things finally fell into place this past Summer!
So Wee Whinnies Therapeutic Minis came to be....
We made our very first visit to a Nursing Home, Lakeview Care Center, this past July, and were so excited about the warm reception we received. I was a bit more than surprised when I was informed that the Local Newspaper was there to take pictures and write an article on us! (I am a very shy person, and it sort of panicked me to be honest. )
I had to get over that, we were there for the residents and I was not going to let my nerves ruin the visit.

We took three of our miniatures, Domino, Me Jo, and our little black stallion Sammy.
I was so very, very proud of them! They were patient, affectionate and understanding. Seemed like as soon as they entered the courtyard filled with people, they put on their "work hats", and knew just how they were to behave.
Many of the residents at this home were vocally as well as physically disabled due to strokes, etc. If they were unable to reach out, our minis seemed to know this and would put their heads right up into their laps to be stroked.
I think my favorite memory of this day was a gentleman with severe paralysis, he was secured in his chair for safety, had no mobility, and appeared completely disconnected from his surroundings. Domino seemed to realize this, and started gently nuzzling his knees, (he was in shorts).
The mans face immediately lit up like a Christmas tree, and he giggled and giggled......
That was the best part of the visit, and that is why we do this.
I firmly believe that animals can reach out and make contact in a way that people are not always able to do.

Here are just a few photos from that day.

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    09-20-2011, 04:06 PM
  #2
Showing
I think that is amazing :) I'd have had to fight tears seeing their joy.

I don't do anything on such a grand scale but my daughter, Morgan (age 6) & I volunteer at our local food pantry once a month. We take in donations and help people shop and take their stuff to their cars. I was a very proud mommy when the director asked Morgan why she liked coming to help with mommy and she said "It makes my heart feel good."

Reminds me that our pears are almost ripe and the trees overflowing, will be taking a big fresh fruit donation soon! We took 15 bushels last fall and I think we may have as many or more this year.
     
    09-20-2011, 04:21 PM
  #3
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by MHFoundation Quarters    
I think that is amazing :) I'd have had to fight tears seeing their joy.

I don't do anything on such a grand scale but my daughter, Morgan (age 6) & I volunteer at our local food pantry once a month. We take in donations and help people shop and take their stuff to their cars. I was a very proud mommy when the director asked Morgan why she liked coming to help with mommy and she said "It makes my heart feel good."

Reminds me that our pears are almost ripe and the trees overflowing, will be taking a big fresh fruit donation soon! We took 15 bushels last fall and I think we may have as many or more this year.

Thank you.
I have to admit that it seems the hubby and I have both found ourselves crying after our visits, the ride home is never a dry one....but they are good tears, because like your wonderful little daughter says, "it makes your heart feel good"!


Every thing counts! Do not belittle what you and Morgan are doing either. You must know how much the people you help appreciate what you do.
So many folks do not have any friends or family to help them with tasks others might take for granite. It is a great thing you are doing.
The Food Bank must be so thrilled to get your beautiful fresh pears!!! That's awesome.


     
    09-20-2011, 04:32 PM
  #4
Yearling
Actually, this is the field I am studying, and I have worked for an equine therapist for 5 years now, just as a horse leader. She does physical therapy, I am going into emotional/mental type therapy.

Horses are amazing aren't they? Big or small they can sense when they are needed to help make someone's day. I have had numerous experiences witnessing such acts, but the one that jumps out is a therapy horse that I helped train. His name is Smokey and he is an arab cross. For a regular rider on a trail, smokey needs a firm but steady hand as he is very flighty and spooky, but for therapy, he is an absolute angel. He has had numerous children on him (being led around) and it is amazing to watch him. As I am leading him, I can always tell if the child is getting off balance. Of course the therapist puts him back in place, but smokey knows it is happening and gently nickers to me, like he is saying "hey, he needs some readjusting." At the same time he will slow down or stop, which is unheard of for him under normal circumstances. He walks slow to make sure the kid is okay, when normally he rushes and has a very quick walk.

Smokey is pretty head shy, but when those little kids get off of him, and walk over to him (usually on braces, since most of these kids have trouble walking) he just puts his nose on the floor, closes his eyes, and lets them pet him all over. It is amazing to watch the transformation this horse undergoes as he understands he is carrying precious cargo. It never gets old to watch
Allison Finch and egrogan like this.
     
    09-20-2011, 04:41 PM
  #5
Yearling
Our second visit was to a facility connected to our local hospital, Brendan House. They are home to a wide range of residents, from people there temporarily to rehab, to permanent residents.

It was another really wonderful experience!
It was a much more talkative group of people, and so many of them had horses, worked with horses, or just had a great love of horses, so there was a lot to visit about.

One of the ladies there told me she spent her whole life training race horses here in Montana. She only retired from it when she turned 80 years old!
Wow.

There were so many very special connections made, but I think the one that stands out in my mind is this little lady.

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She just fell in love with Domino that day! She would literally scoot herself around with the heels of her feet to get back over to where Domino was visiting with other residents.
He was so great, just let her pull his head to her and run her fingers all over his face and through his mane.....Fills my heart with joy, I am so proud of him, and so happy that I am able to share that special bond with others.

Here are a few more pics from that visit.

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    09-20-2011, 04:51 PM
  #6
Teen Forum Moderator
It's so fantastic to see others like you reaching out to the community through miniatures. As I believe I've mentioned, we also have a non profit therapy center for the disabled called HALTERS in. We're now up to 12 trained miniatures and 3 in training, and we do therapy rides on the shetlands/ponies, and nursing home/hospital/school visits to raise awareness and to spread the joys of our little equines.

It's amazing what a horse can pick up. We have also had minies who somehow just KNOW when someone is unable to reach out, and have reached out themselves. I couldn't be more proud.
     
    09-20-2011, 05:02 PM
  #7
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakotababii    
Actually, this is the field I am studying, and I have worked for an equine therapist for 5 years now, just as a horse leader. She does physical therapy, I am going into emotional/mental type therapy.

Horses are amazing aren't they? Big or small they can sense when they are needed to help make someone's day. I have had numerous experiences witnessing such acts, but the one that jumps out is a therapy horse that I helped train. His name is Smokey and he is an arab cross. For a regular rider on a trail, smokey needs a firm but steady hand as he is very flighty and spooky, but for therapy, he is an absolute angel. He has had numerous children on him (being led around) and it is amazing to watch him. As I am leading him, I can always tell if the child is getting off balance. Of course the therapist puts him back in place, but smokey knows it is happening and gently nickers to me, like he is saying "hey, he needs some readjusting." At the same time he will slow down or stop, which is unheard of for him under normal circumstances. He walks slow to make sure the kid is okay, when normally he rushes and has a very quick walk.

Smokey is pretty head shy, but when those little kids get off of him, and walk over to him (usually on braces, since most of these kids have trouble walking) he just puts his nose on the floor, closes his eyes, and lets them pet him all over. It is amazing to watch the transformation this horse undergoes as he understands he is carrying precious cargo. It never gets old to watch

Thanks for sharing that.
You are right, it never ceases to amaze me how perceptive horses are! They do know, and they do act accordingly. I know I might sound looney to some, but I truly believe that animals are Angels here on Earth, horses being extra special! LOL!
(I guess I should not generalize that comment, as not all horses are cut out for all things.)

I would also love to get involved with Equine Therapy on Horseback some day. There is an organization like that some where in our area, so who knows, maybe I can work into that with them as well. I do not have any formal education like you, so maybe that would be reaching too far....

     
    09-20-2011, 05:11 PM
  #8
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Endiku    
It's so fantastic to see others like you reaching out to the community through miniatures. As I believe I've mentioned, we also have a non profit therapy center for the disabled called HALTERS in. We're now up to 12 trained miniatures and 3 in training, and we do therapy rides on the shetlands/ponies, and nursing home/hospital/school visits to raise awareness and to spread the joys of our little equines.

It's amazing what a horse can pick up. We have also had minies who somehow just KNOW when someone is unable to reach out, and have reached out themselves. I couldn't be more proud.

Yes, that's right, we have talked about that, and I am so happy that you have a program as well!
Hopefully we can encourage others to start similar programs in their home towns too, wouldn't that be great!?!
They are so beneficial, not just for the residents, but for the horses and "handlers" as well.

     
    09-20-2011, 06:10 PM
  #9
Yearling
I hope some of you will take a peek at the website.
For any FaceBook fans, I also made a Wee Whinnies Therapeutic Minis page, still trying to figure all of that "social networking" out...
:roll:

I am registered with the State, and I am currently in the process of becoming a non-profit
so that any donations made will be tax deductible. Tons of paperwork, they sure do not make it an easy process!
We obviously do this because we love it, but it would be great if at some point we receive enough in donations to pay for the fuel it takes to make these visits. As we are all too aware, gas prices aren't on the decline....
     
    09-20-2011, 09:22 PM
  #10
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiritedLittleCopperSpots    
Thanks for sharing that.
You are right, it never ceases to amaze me how perceptive horses are! They do know, and they do act accordingly. I know I might sound looney to some, but I truly believe that animals are Angels here on Earth, horses being extra special! LOL!
(I guess I should not generalize that comment, as not all horses are cut out for all things.)

I would also love to get involved with Equine Therapy on Horseback some day. There is an organization like that some where in our area, so who knows, maybe I can work into that with them as well. I do not have any formal education like you, so maybe that would be reaching too far....

Well you may be surprised. Generally, a Social Worker or therapist trained in the therapy is the one that oversees the operation (that will be me eventually) BUT they usually have at least one or 2 horsey people to help out You wouldn't be directly doing "therapy" but still contributing, kind of like I do with the hippotherapist.

And no, you don't sound looney. They are angels here on earth, and I have had the blessing of running into quite a few of the equine version
     

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