Neigh-bourly miniature horse brings smiles to elderly

A MINIATURE horse has brought smiles and laughter to elderly people at an activity and wellbeing centre.

Mr P (for “Mr Perfect”), a 15-year-old American Miniature Horse, visited the council-run Activities and Wellbeing Service at St Germain’s Grange, attached to the supported housing scheme for elderly people in Marske – to the delight of tenants, day visitors and staff alike.

The placid creature brought back special memories for tenant Vera Tate, 88, (pictured) who spent her working life on a North Yorkshire farm.

Said Vera: “I love horses. We had one who went with my husband Derek everywhere. One day Derek slipped and couldn’t move and that horse just stayed him for hours and hours until help came. We had a cat who followed the horse everywhere too, right behind him. I did everything on the farm, drove tractors, sawed wood, milked cows, made butter – you name it.”

Other visitors to the Activities and Wellbeing Service centre reminisced about much loved animals they had had in their lives as Mr P calmly walked from person to person to be petted.

Katy Smith, who brought Mr P from her KL Pony Therapy and Events centre at Northallerton, said Mr P was the first of her miniature horses and she now has 11. She and her miniature horses have travelled the country to visit not only centres for the elderly but children’s hospitals, universities, schools and much more. “It doesn’t make me a millionaire when it comes to money,” Katie laughed, “but it makes me feel very rich in so many other ways. We get smiles everywhere we go. It’s joyful.”

Sharon Welford, Support Co-ordinator at the Activity and Wellbeing Service, explained the residents and day centre visitors enjoyed a range of entertainment and activities from pet dogs to pantomimes, major outings to indoor quizzes. Sharon said that the tenants had talked about the miniature horse “non-stop” since the visit.

Cllr Lisa Belshaw, Cabinet Member for Adults, said: “I was thrilled to hear about the joy and fun the residents experienced when Mr P came to visit. The therapeutic benefits that connecting with animals should not be underestimated. I'd like to thank everyone who supports our elderly people at St Germain’s and across the borough. We are lucky to have such committed staff and volunteers working hard to ensure
people they support live as full and meaningful lives as possible.”

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