Interacting with animals can really bring a smile to a person’s face, and spending time with miniature horses can be an especially enjoyable treat! Local organization Mane in Heaven recently brought ponies to Chicago Methodist Senior Services’ Hartwell Place and Covenant Home, and residents at both communities got to spend time with these fun-sized horses.
What is Mane in Heaven?
Mane in Heaven is a nonprofit from Barrington, IL that brings miniature horses to hospitals, retirement communities, schools and more to help people experience the benefits of animal therapy. According to Mane in Heaven, interacting with the ponies can improve physical, mental and emotional well-being. During their visits, people can pet, hug, walk and bond with the animals.
In May, Winnie and Hope joined CMSS residents at the Hartwell Place. The two ponies strutted in wearing therapy vests, handmade custom-leather boots, harnesses and nametags, and the residents cheered with delight when they saw the animals. Winnie and Hope spent time with groups of residents and also stopped by some individual rooms. That way, each resident was able to have a unique experience with the ponies.
What’s special about miniature horses?
Mane in Heaven has toured CMSS’ communities three times, and the visits always leave a profoundly positive impact on the residents’ physical and emotional well-being.
Some CMSS residents experience memory loss and may have trouble communicating, but being around the miniature horses allows them to connect in a different way. Horses can sense what mood a person is in, so a natural trust or bond can be formed just by spending time together.
For others, the miniature horses brought back memories of the time they spent with horses and other animals throughout their lives. One resident in a cowboy hat reminisced about the last time he rode a horse in 1958. Another talked about her grandfather’s horse that she played with as a child, sharing her memories of the horse right down to its specific breed.
Dogs, cats and bunnies often visit CMSS residents, but visits from Mane in Heaven’s miniature horses have been a fun and unique experience. CMSS hopes to continue its partnership with Mane in Heaven for years to come as we continue to explore the benefits of animal therapy. To stay informed about animal therapy programs at CMSS, you can follow our blog.