You may have heard of dogs who act as therapy animals, visiting hospitals and bringing a little comfort to the sick and ailing. One Chicago hospital is taking the therapy animal to the next level by opening their doors to miniature horses. The small horses visit the pediatric unit at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center and are greeted by warm smiles from the young patients.
CTV News reports about the mini horses named Mystery and Lunar that happily trot the halls of the Chicago hospital in an effort to bring a little joy and peace to sick kids. The miniature horses are described as being about as small as a very big dog, less stout and more horse-like than the better known Shetland pony. Hospital director Robin Hart describes Mystery and Luna saying they, “are something that most people whether kids or adults have never seen before, and so that builds in a little more excitement and anticipation. They almost look like mythical animals, like they should have wings on.”
There are many animal-assisted therapy groups that provide services to hospitals that see firsthand the benefits these types of visits give their patients. Hart explains how having the mini horses visit the pediatric unit has had a positive effect on patients. She says, “We have long had animal-assisted therapy here at Rush and just seen the enormous benefits that animals can have on most children -- just the joy that they bring, the unconditional love.” And the patients at Rush agree. Emily Pietsch, a 17 year old epilepsy patient at the hospital says of her interaction with the horses, “They're so nice and they don't judge and they're so sweet.”
What do you think of this hospital’s program employing miniature horses as therapy animals?
Do you think more hospitals should consider partnering with therapy-animal groups for routine visits with patients?