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!”