How ‘pony therapy’ helps Sunderland dementia sufferers

KL Pony Therapy owner Katy Smith and employee Amelia Chapman with Blondie (left) and Poppy.
KL Pony Therapy owner Katy Smith and employee Amelia Chapman with Blondie (left) and Poppy.

Two tiny horses brought joy to dementia sufferers on Wearside at a canter.

Four-legged friends Blondie and Poppy visited the Princess of Wales Centre, run by the Alzheimer’s Society, in Hylton Road,Sunderland.

Day Centre Member Dot Davison

Day Centre Member Dot Davison

The American Miniature Horses brought a touch of the outdoors indoors at the centre, where people living with dementia come to socialise and take part in group activities.

Katy Smith, of KL Pony Therapy, which owns the horses, said the joyous reaction from centre users was typical.

“We take the horses into care centres and nursing homes and the reaction they get is always incredible,” she said.

“People who often find it difficult to engage because of their condition seem to come to life when they’re around them.

It’s incredible the way the presence of these two animals brought people out of their shells. They were a huge hit with day centre members and staff alike.

Wendy Hunter

“Blondie and Poppy are so well-behaved and placid and are happy to just stand there while people stroke them – I’m so proud of them.”

Wendy Hunter, Alzheimer’s Society Services Manager in Sunderland, said: “It’s incredible the way the presence of these two animals brought people out of their shells.

“They were a huge hit with day centre members and staff alike. It was wonderful to witness the way people reacted to them.”

KL Pony Therapy owner Katy Smith; Alzheimers Society Support Worker Jamie Howe and Day Centre member Irene Hancock

KL Pony Therapy owner Katy Smith; Alzheimers Society Support Worker Jamie Howe and Day Centre member Irene Hancock

Alzheimers Society Day Centre members George Chalk and Mary Parkin

Alzheimers Society Day Centre members George Chalk and Mary Parkin