Residents at a Sanctuary Care home in Wantage were delighted to receive a visit from a miniature pony.
Tickle the Pony from the Phoenix Children’s Foundation trotted into Wantage Nursing Home, which provides nursing care and dementia care, where residents had the opportunity to pet, groom, stroke and lead her.
Tickle, a 5-year-old miniature skewbald mare, is the smallest pony from the Foundation but according to the charity “has the biggest character”.
Resident Winsome Davery, 79, said: “I enjoyed meeting Tickle very much – it was lovely to stroke her and have the opportunity to walk around with her, very special.”
William Brown, 88, added: “It was very nice to meet such a tiny pony, she was lovely. I really hope she visits again soon.”
The Phoenix Children’s Foundation raises funds primarily to provide disabled and ill children with vital equipment and therapeutic activities. The charity has a number of miniature ponies which they use as petting ponies for children in hospices and special needs centres. In addition to their work with children, the charity also visits nursing and care homes to provide animal-assisted therapy to older people.
Animal-assisted therapy is believed to be extremely therapeutic, particularly those who live with dementia or have a serious illness. Having interaction with calm, friendly animals can have a soothing effect, increase confidence and social participation and encourage movement and co-ordination.
The home’s activities leader, Liliana Fludra, said: “Tickle the pony was lovely, so gentle and full of character. She walked through all the corridors and even visited residents in their bedrooms, they were absolutely delighted. One resident’s husband used to work at stables and as soon as she saw Tickle her eyes lit up, she loved seeing her and I really think it brought back memories for her.”