Horses in the living room? Ponies provide therapy for care home residents

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A MAJOR case of horsing around proved the ‘mane’ attraction for elderly folk at a nursing home.

Residents at Cedar Court, in Seaham, are used to all kinds of visitors coming and going.

Dartmoor pony Molly meeting Mary Childs and Ivy Maghar, right, at Cedar Court Care Home, Seaham.

Dartmoor pony Molly meeting Mary Childs and Ivy Maghar, right, at Cedar Court Care Home, Seaham.

But they could be forgiven for spilling their afternoon tea when in trotted two new four-legged friends.

Dartmoor pony Molly and American miniature Mr P wasted no time in making themselves firm favourites, when they visited the home for the afternoon.

The pair have a track record in providing therapy to the older generation, as well as those with special needs and autism.

Caroline Cook, activities co-ordinator at the home, arranged the visit from K&L Pony Therapy after hearing about the company at Beamish Museum.

“The residents’ eyes just lit up when the horses came in,” she said. “It really made their day.

“We’ve had other animals in here before, things like tortoises, rabbits and even centipedes, but nothing like this before.”

While Molly made her way around the living room, interacting with the residents, Mr P wasted no time in jumping into the lift and heading to the first-floor bedrooms to help those unable to make it downstairs.

Caroline, who has worked at the home for more than seven years, said: “We’re always trying to think of something a little bit different to do, something outside of the box.

“We’ve been to the theatre and even to the circus, so we thought we’d try this.

“People with dementia often find it difficult to express themselves and the horses can bring out something in them – it’s lovely to see.”

During the visit Katy Smith, from Pony Therapy, explained to residents where the animals had come from and what type they were.

She said: “Horses often bring back memories, particularly for the older generation, and it’s wonderful to see them smiling when we visit.

“Horses are not confrontational and are, by nature, very trusting so they are ideal for older people or those with autism or challenging behaviour.

“We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Cedar Court, and it makes us glad to know we brought a little bit of happiness into their afternoon.”