Therapy Ponies Are Helping Hospital Patients Recover

Therapy pets can come in all shapes and sizes, like this group of mini ponies, who are helping patients recover in one upstate New York hospital.

Two therapy ponies are helping patients recover at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York, and residents of the 8th floor of the facility are reportedly thrilled to have them there.

"It's nice," said patient Markeel Hilson in an interview with WIVB 4. "It's the most entertainment you have coming to the hospital."

For Hilson, his stay at ECMC will make for his first experience meeting a pony, which he finds to be a nice distraction from the struggles and frustrations associated with being a patient undergoing rehab services for injuries sustained from gunshot wounds.

"I was a little nervous getting close, but it's nice petting them and knowing they're not going to bite me. They're friendly ponies," he added.

The power of pet therapy is no secret and has provided countless individuals with the emotional, mental, and sometimes physical support they need during times of stress or trauma. A variety of animals are used as therapeutic providers, and the therapy ponies - who have undergone hundreds of hours of training to become certified - are no different.

"It can help with stress and anxiety," said Jeannine Sauriol, regional marketing director for Centers Health Care, a rehabilitation and therapy provider serving the Northeast. "It gives [patients] a way to relax and something different than the usual therapy pets."

Miniature ponies Quintin and Lilly will continue to make their rounds on their scheduled visits, making hospital patients days a little bit brighter with every pet and nuzzle.

For more unconventional therapy pets providing healing services to those in need, check out Gracie and Peanut, two therapy cows who help children heal.

Miniature horses, Shetland ponies, and little horses, in general, are wonderful therapy ponies as they're less intimidating given their smaller size. There are so many therapeutic benefits for an assisted-living facility and even a nursing home.

These tiny horses make wonderful therapy partners!

Have you ever worked with a therapy animal? Let us know in the comments section below!

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