Ponies Leo, Harry and Larry bring joy to elderly care homes

Three little Shetland ponies are moving staff and residents in Sheffield care homes to tears with the impact they are having on vulnerable adults.

Leo, Harry and Larry belong to Smile at Lightwood stables, based at Mansion House farm, Sheffield and they are often brought along to take part in different therapy sessions.

The ponies are proven to help reduce stress and anxiety, encourage communication between fellow patients, guests and care home staff, and help vulnerable adults who find it hard to communicate.

The staff adapt therapy sessions to the individuals’ or care homes’ needs – the stables has the ability to bring the ponies to the individual, or they can visit them at the stables, which is wheelchair accessible.

Lynn Jeffery, accredited member of the National Council of Psychotherapists, is also one of Smile at Lightwood’s employees. She is experienced in providing Equine assisted coaching, designed to help individuals to build healthy relationships at home or at work, counselling and psychotherapy.

She said: “I am enjoying the benefits Smile at Lightwood ponies brings to our clients.”

Throughout her time working for the stables, Lynn has built up many memories but one in particular stood out to her.

“Once we visited a lady who never left her room or spoke to staff, but when we left the room with the ponies she followed us and sat with the others in the care home. She was sat reminiscing and the staff were in tears,” she shared.

Lynn added that similar situations happen often when they bring the ponies to visit care homes, proving that horses can be therapy to humans in time of need.

Natasha Wilson, who works at an Age UK well being centre, where the ponies visit regularly, said: “What an incredible organisation! Seeing the impact Larry and Leo had on our members with dementia has moved myself and my team deeply.

“It has been a joy to see our members engage with the ponies and sharing those moments with their family has given us so much job satisfaction.”

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