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AnimalsTop StoriesOAPs Overjoyed As Adorable Miniature Ponies Paraded Around Care Home

OAPs Overjoyed As Adorable Miniature Ponies Paraded Around Care Home

This is the moving scene when a pair of adorable miniature ponies are brought in to cheer up elderly residents in their care home.

Buttercup and Daisy, measuring just 2.5ft tall, instantly provoke a joyful reaction from the OAPs who have been tempted out of their rooms by the prospect of meeting them.

One resident Mary Cole, who used to breed dogs in her youth, can be seen cradling the muzzle of one of the ponies close to her own face.

The touching scenes were played out at the Magdalen Park Nursing Home in Hull, East Yorks., yesterday (Tues).

The owner of the ponies Helen Bellis, 44, said the introduction of ponies into a care home provides residents with a “breath of fresh air” and a “genuine sense of joy”.

Research shows contact and companionship with animals can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and provide an overall boost to well-being.

Horses in particular are being utilised more and more in a treatment known as equine therapy, which sees horses being used to help people with mental health problems.

The unorthodox form of therapy is said to help with a range of issues including anxiety, autism, poor behaviour, low self confidence, stress and trauma.

Helen, who runs a company called Furry Friends, said: “Seeing the interaction between Buttercup and Daisy and elderly residents at care homes is so powerful.

“Sometimes there are people who don’t normally leave their rooms at all but they come out just to see the ponies.

“Daisy can identify if someone is having end of life care and she will go up to them, lay her head on their bed and breathe on their hand.

“It’s incredibly special to see it happen.

“Seeing animals takes so many of these elderly people back to their childhood and brings memories flooding back.

“It really is a unique opportunity.”

She added: “The positive impact animals can have on vulnerable people is enormous.

“They are incredibly therapeutic for people who have physical and mental health issues.

“Daisy and Buttercup have the perfect temperament for this, they have the most incredibly calming personalities.

“It doesn’t matter how noisy or busy an environment is – they keep their cool.

“They’re very sensitive and tuned into people’s feelings.”

Helen recently set up Furry Friends with her sister Emma Stephenson, both of whom worked in social care for 25 years.

The siblings love animals and are huge proponents of the benefits animals can have for mental health.

Helen and Emma have dozens of animals on their books including pigs, goats, hedgehogs, ducks, lizards and a tortoise.

Buttercup is a rescue pony aged three and Daisy is nine-years-old.

Furry Friends visit care homes, as well as hospices, two or three times a week.

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