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Mini Horses Bring Smiles to Nursing Center Residents

IMAGE: Dr. Dana Bridges Westerman plays with Milo, a miniature horse. (© KarenDucey.com)
July 30, 2014
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Tiny horses don’t get out on adventures too much. But neither do many residents of nursing homes. Bring the two together and you get smiles all around.

On a recent sunny afternoon, Dr. Dana Bridges Westerman and her staff in Monroe, Wash., brought three miniature horses to visit with residents of the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Wash.

“You wouldn’t believe the talk all week,” said activity director Erik Barnett. “It’s always a hit and such a blessing for these folks.” The horses came to visit as part of Western Week at the center.

“It just makes you smile,” said Rebecca Kerr, who grew up on a farm in Gig Harbor, Wash., and always wanted a horse of her own. “I love animals.” she said.

Donna Markley, administrator of the center, said, “The residents just love it. They cry when they get here.”

The three miniature horses, all rescues – Milo, Tiny Bubbles and Lady Bug – were gentle with the residents and seemed to enjoy all the attention. Westerman has been bringing the horses to schools and nursing homes since she was in vet school. “Tiny Bubbles started the whole thing,” she explained, when she brought the horse to a school for show and tell. Now at 17 years,

Ever since then, Westerman brings them around to others, saying she can’t imagine what it would be like to live without horses. Her favorite trip was bringing two horses to see her 94-year-old grandmother.

In a classic case of who rescued whom, Westerman jokes, “Who’s the therapy really for? … It’s for me!”

When not taking the horses out for visits, Westerman runs her veterinary service, Professional Equine Therapeutic in Monroe and volunteers her time at World Vets.

 

IMAGE: Miniature horses visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington (© KarenDucey.com)

Miniature horses visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. Veterinarian Dana Bridges Westerman (right) with dwarf miniature horse Tiny Bubbles, arranges the therapy visit every year. James Driscoll, left, handles Milo, a dwarf miniature horse.

IMAGE: Brooke Ferguson (left) reaches out to pet dwarf miniature horse, Tiny Bubbles, visit with Rebecca Kerr at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. (© KarenDucey.com)

Rebecca Kerr (right) reaches out to pet dwarf miniature horse, Tiny Bubbles, during her visit at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. Brooke Ferguson (left) assists Veterinarian Dana Bridges Westerman of Professional Equine Therapeutic who arranges the therapy visit every year.

IMAGE: Georgia Lemere pets Tiny Bubbles, a dwarf miniature horse, at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington (© KarenDucey.com)

Georgia Lemere pets Tiny Bubbles, a dwarf miniature horse, during her visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. Veterinarian Dana Bridges Westerman of Professional Equine Therapeutic arranges the therapy visit every year.

IMAGE: Activity director Sue Aust (left) pets Tiny Bubbles, a dwarf miniature horse, while he visits with Nancy Caminiski (right) and others at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington.(© KarenDucey.com)

Activity director Sue Aust (left) pets Tiny Bubbles, a dwarf miniature horse, while he visits with Nancy Caminiski (right) and others at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington.

IMAGE: Miniature horses from Professional Equine Therapeutic visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. (©karenducey.com)

Miniature horses from Professional Equine Therapeutic visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington.

Veterinarian Dana Bridges Westerman from Professional Equine Therapeutic and dwarf miniature horse, Tiny Bubbles.

Veterinarian Dana Bridges Westerman from Professional Equine Therapeutic and dwarf miniature horse, Tiny Bubbles.

IMAGE: James Driscoll, left, talks with Milo, a dwarf miniature horse, while they visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. (© KarenDucey.com)

James Driscoll, left, talks with Milo, a dwarf miniature horse, while they visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. “I’ve grown up with animals all my life, cats dogs, rabbits, even a snake.” said Renee Williams (center left), originally from Woodinville.

Georgia Lemere pets Tiny Bubbles, a dwarf miniature horse, during her visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. Veterinarian Dana Bridges Westerman (top right) of Professional Equine Therapeutic arranges the therapy visit every year.

Georgia Lemere pets Tiny Bubbles, a dwarf miniature horse, during her visit with residents at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington. Veterinarian Dana Bridges Westerman (top right) of Professional Equine Therapeutic arranges the therapy visit every year.

IMAGE: Paul Bruggeman chuckles when Lady Bug, a miniature horse from from Professional Equine Therapeutic, comes to say "Hello". (© KarenDucey.com)

Paul Bruggeman chuckles when Lady Bug, a miniature horse from from Professional Equine Therapeutic, comes to say “Hello” to him , Holly Dibble (right) and others at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline, Washington.

 

 

 

 

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