Therapy animals of all species have found their ways into hospitals, nursing homes and anywhere else the sick, lonely and ill need a bit of affection. Most of these animals have been dogs and cats.
But one nursing home recently welcomed in a Clydesdale horse into its hallways. The Village of East Harbor Senior Living Community recently hosted a visit by Renee — known as Neigh-Neigh — who recently met the nursing home’s elderly residents.
“It was pet therapy on steroids,” Carolyn Martin, administrator at East Harbor Senior Living Community, told TODAY.
Carolyn initially contacted Chamberlin Pony Rides in Michigan, who put her in touch with Maggie Provenzano, a contractor who brought in Neigh-Neigh. Maggie initially had doubts they could bring Neigh-Neigh inside, but Martin thought they could make it happen — with the help of someone following Neigh-Neigh with a bucket.
It was well worth the effort, though. Many of the residents at East Harbor can’t go outside because of mobility issues, but Neigh-Neigh was able to make friends with everyone.
She was initially scheduled for a hour-long visit, but stayed over two hours to meet everyone. Even residents who generally never left their rooms to ventured forth and meet her. She bonded with many of the residents, bringing many to tears and putting her head in their laps — a remarkable gesture of equine affection.
The encounters between horse and elderly residents was moving for those who got to witness it. “”Everybody was just so moved by the experience,” Carolyn told TODAY. “It was almost like she just knew.”