What’s little, cute, likes hay and people with brain injuries? Miniature horses trained for rehabilitation therapy! Mini horse therapy is a fun, very popular treatment that residents at Pate’s Brinlee Creek ranch look forward to each month.
These tiny horses (from 29″ to about 38″) may be small, but their hearts are enormous. While miniature horses are the size of extremely small ponies, they have all the characteristics of horses. They are highly intelligent beings, friendly and interact very well with people. Some have even been trained as service animals.
Mini horses visit our rehabilitation ranch outside of McKinney each month for two hours. The patients love interacting with the horses and are very responsive to mini-horse therapy activities which include brushing and grooming the horse’s mane, applying hair clips, weight bearing on the horse’s body, leading the horses around an obstacle course, and of course, petting and nuzzling them. Patients are not the only ones who enjoy it – staff loves the mini horses too.
Depending on the patient’s needs at the time, they may be scheduled for mini horse therapy as part of their treatment. Therapeutic interaction with the horses can have benefits from stress reduction to increased socialization, and its gentle activities can assist patients with motor, cognitive and physical skills.
Everyone on the ranch loves these endearing mini horses. North Texas based Mini Encounters, a 501(c)3 non profit, provides visits with their horses Brave, Jade and Rappy to Pate patients as well as hospice centers, nursing homes, vets and other places in need of the magic of mini horses. When Mini Encounters brought their horses out for Pate’s annual holiday parade, dressed up in adorable holiday finery, they were a sensation with parade watchers who crowded around to pet them.
We are very grateful to our friends at Mini Encounters who selflessly provide their time and energy to people with brain injuries. Their important work brings joy to many people in need.
Mini horse therapy complements Pate’s additional horse based therapies of equine assisted psychotherapy and equine assisted physical therapy. These therapies are available in good weather to patients with specific deficits that will benefit from this treatment.