Horses help us and can heal us, they are not a bother or nuisance. They are part of our culture and country!!! ~Declan
The horse whisperer - Equine visits boost the lives of dementia sufferers
RUPERT the horse may not be the most conventional visitor to an elderly people’s care home but he is always a welcome sight when he walks into the communal lounge.
Horse therapy is the latest weapon being used in the fight against dementia and loneliness.
Care home owner Neil Robson admits, however, he was initially horrified at the idea that a horse had been booked to visit residents.
Mr Robson, who owns Sambrook House residential care home in Newport, Shropshire, is so happy with the results, however, he intends to have Rupert visit regularly.
He said: “When I came back from leave and realised that half a ton of horse was about to walk around the home it seemed a mad idea as it could make a lot of mess and there was a real worry about it breaking things.
“However, he had an almost magical connection with the residents as he was led round, with one resident he bowed down to allow her to rest her forehead on his head, where they both remained for over five minutes, it was so special to watch.
“Both the resident and Rupert seemed completely calm. It was amazing how some residents could just completely relate to him and he seemed to understand them back.
“Without exception and even with the residents with dementia, the first horse visit was discussed for days on end and everyone enjoyed it.”
Animal therapy has long been acknowledged to have a positive effect on people, with autistic children, stressed students and the elderly all benefiting from the relaxation that animals can bring.
She said: “She was so happy around Rupert and calm and he really cheered her up. At the time I got Rupert my grandmother was living with my parents and so she saw Rupert every day.
“Then when it became better for her to be in a care home, I took Rupert to her, first outside and then into the home. Everyone loves him in the 40 or so homes we visit.”
Elderly residents at Bramley Court in Histon, Cambridgeshire, have had visits from therapy dogs in the past, but now residents enjoy visits from Bambi, a half-American spot miniature pony.
Pony therapy is also now a regular feature at Hillfield House in Burton, County Durham.
The residents at the home for elderly people with mental illness have fallen in love with Molly, a Dartmoor pony, and Mr P, a miniature pony.
And residents at Eighton Lodge care home in Low Fell, Gateshead, have been treated to a visit by Wish, a miniature American pony.