Anybody visit nursing homes with their Minis?

Discussion in 'Miniature Horse Forum' started by kimie28, Dec 8, 2006.

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  1. Dec 8, 2006 #1

    kimie28

    kimie28

    kimie28

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    I have a couple of minis that I think would be perfect to visit nursing homes with but do not know where to start. I live in Florida so I’m sure there are plenty of homes that would welcome us but was wondering if there is anybody in Florida doing this or can anybody offer to me suggestions?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Dec 8, 2006 #2

    Beccy

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    I have taken a horse to the group home where I work (for developmentally delayed adults) and will be again.

    Besides the obvious suggestions such as being sure the horse is very amicable with people and not being easily upset by strange situations, one thing I read a long time ago which is a GREAT suggestion, is to wrap the hooves well with vet wrap to make them non slip on slippery floors. It works very well (we used if for our preemie filly that was bottle raised and in the house the first few months) and you can use Christmas colours at this time of year! :bgrin
     
  3. Dec 8, 2006 #3

    PaintedPromiseRanch

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    we do this quite often with our mini horses and mini donkeys, the old folks are usually very receptive to the animals although if you go to a mental health facility like an alzheimer's unit, you need to understand that they are not always in control of what they say, we have had some people say nasty things but we just ignore it, it's not their fault. don't let it hurt your feelings! we did have one woman haul off and punch one unexpectedly, but we have done over 2 dozen visits and that was the only physical incident.

    one thing i make sure to do right at the beginning is tell the people "the rules" which are simple - 1, do not feed your fingers to the ponies. they reach for their faces and while the horses would never bite to hurt someone, i'm sorry if you stick your fingers in their mouths you risk getting bit. 2, watch your feet and watch their feet, because they will not, and even though they are little it still hurts a lot when they step on you. again they would never do it on purpose but will on accident. we always suggest that people tuck their feet under their chairs if sitting.

    as for getting started, i just looked in the phone book, and for me it was easier to write letters, but you could also call. speak with the activities director and offer your visits. we do ours as fundraising for our rescue, so we do not charge, but request that they make a donation under their budget. that way we don't leave anyone out (for instance charging $50 would leave out a facility with a $25 recreation budget...)

    if you start doing this you will get hooked quick. we have some wonderful stories... i asked one woman in an alzheimer's unit if she would like to pet the donkey, and her reply was "why would i want to touch a stinkin' donkey?!?" i just said ok and moved along, but 5 minutes later she was calling me over to ask "if a person wanted one of those donkeys, how much money would it take?"

    at another facility they had a reception area like a town square, and had brought all the residents out to see the animals. we asked the activities director if there was anyone that could not get out of bed as our mare Foxy will go right up to the bed and put her head in their lap... she said it's a mental facility so physically there isn't anyone that CAN'T come, but she did have one resident that always refused to participate in activities. she always knocks on his door and he always opens it, but when she invites him to come out and do whatever, he always yells "no, leave me alone" and slams the door in her face. well, i stayed in the lobby with the other two animals, and my husband and the activities director took Foxy down the hall and knocked on the man's door. he opened it, looked down and saw the little horse, opened the door wider, petted her and talked to her, and when he found out there were two more in the lobby, HE CAME OUT OF HIS ROOM AND ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE LOBBY TO SEE THEM. i will never forget the activities director, the tone of her voice when she said "you have NO IDEA what you have done here today!" it still brings tears to my eyes when i talk about it.

    and i will never forget the first time Foxy went in an elevator... we had been visiting outside on the patio with partial-care residents and again offered to the activities director to take Foxy to visit full-care residents who could not get out of bed to come out and see the animals. she said "we are a 2-story facility, will she go in the elevator?" i told her i had no idea, but we could sure go see... so we walked inside, up to the elevator door, it opened, and i stepped in and asked Foxy to follow me. she looked at the silver track the doors slide on and hesitated, but i asked her again and she stepped in, lifting her legs REALLY high over that silver track. the doors shut and i thought for a split second "oh my God here we go" as the elevator started to move, but actually it's not near as much movement as the horse trailer, so she was just fine. she has now been in an elevator about a dozen times and it's old hat, but she is still careful not to step ON those silver tracks... i knew even if she did react to it that she would settle quickly, she is just such a special little girl and very in tune with the people around her. in fact sometimes residents want to hold a lead rope and she is always the one i give them, last visit we were at one of the residents walked her around the whole campus for the whole visit, we watched him carefully as he was a little shaky and unstable walking, but she was almost tip-toeing she was so careful not to put any pressure on that lead rope that might overbalance the old man...

    anyway thanks for letting me ramble on, this is a pet subject of mine as you can tell! if you get going on this project be sure to share your special stories!!!
     
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  4. Dec 8, 2006 #4

    lilhorseladie

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    My goldie goes at least once a week! We go room to room and have over 15 facilities we visit during the year. I have worked with five foals and finally got one who likes the work and I don't have to watch her every second. I got boots, I think they are called litle lily or something from ebay, they have a rubber bottom and are shaped like a bell for dogs. they zip up the front and then velcro around the hoof. I found them after trying I don't know how many kinds and they work perfect. I think the boots serve several purposes. My horses never potty with them on, I don't leave them on when we are outside or traveling. I think it is like a sign to them. I also think if they would step on someone or kick that it would pad the impact. Plus they don't slide on linoleum.

    I carry a plastic bag in my pocket, just in case, but I am pretty in tune to Goldie's body language and can hit a door if I need to.

    Goldie has made close to 150 nursing home visits since she was born in March 2006. She has only had one accident. Most places don't seem to worry about it too much. I like to see mine go before we enter the home and they usually do on the trip there.

    Have fun with them. I have some pictures on my web page of our visits.
     
  5. Dec 8, 2006 #5

    lovinarabs

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    Please keep the info coming. This is something I really want to do with our mini as our nursing home is always looking for people to come in and visit. My grandmother lives there and so many of them seem just so sad and lonely. They do have a courtyard outside too, they might just prefer that we bring them outside. What things does a person starting need to know as far as training the mini? Our MaryAnn is just the sweetest little thing. She has the right tempermant, but how do you desensitize them to the crowd and such. Does a person need to get one of those bags for under the tail?
     
  6. Dec 8, 2006 #6

    horsefeather

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    Yes, please keep the info comming. I also would like to take a mini to the nursing home but don't know exactly how to 'train' my little girl for it.

    Pam
     
  7. Dec 8, 2006 #7

    dannigirl

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    I try to take mine to a local petsmart to get them used to the slicker floors. If properly trimmed, mine have had no problem with the floors unless their feet were wet. Also, petsmart has floor color changes which I find is my biggest problem with getting them from going from one room to another. They think that color change will swollow them up. They need to learn to trust you in that regard.

    good luck and have fun

    Angie
     
  8. Dec 8, 2006 #8

    foalfan

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    We are just starting visits with our girl.

    To get Whoopie ready for her first visit, we had her get use to her Build A Bear shoes while grazing in the yard. Next we brought her in the house with her shoes on for short period, walked her around, and done with the lesson. After a few short visits in the house we started adding new things that she may run across while on a visit, lights turning on and off, TV volume up high, loud voices from another room, having her weave around furniture, back up from tight spaces, chairs rolling across carpet and tile. We have one room with 2 steps, she took those with no problem.

    We found 2 things that caught her attention, she seemed to think that little horse in the mirror was pretty neat, but I think she was disappointed the other horse wouldn't talk back.

    She was confused on a glass door, she was in the house, she saw the grass that she wanted and took a step in that direction, she was surprised when she bumped her head on the glass. She stood there for a minute after bumping her head and started pawing, she didn't seem to appreciate that we were laughing at her.

    We give no treats while on a visit, but once we are done and her shoes are off, she gets treats and hugs. We take a bucket with a plastic bag and paper towels in case we need a quick clean up.

    Before starting her indoor training we have made a point to have Whoopie around large groups, she has been to a large noisy party, made a trip to see a group of kids at a summer camp, and many trips to local crowded events.

    We are looking forward to many more visits at senior centers and hopefully at the local Childrens Hospital.
     
  9. Dec 8, 2006 #9

    HobbsFarm

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    [SIZE=12pt]Wouldn't it be good to have at least one extra person with the group for POOP PATROL? If it were just me and my mini going to the nursing home, I wouldn't want to carry a bucket, paper towels, etc all while trying to talk to people who are wanting to pet him and ask questions. Or is the under tail bag just best so that you don't have to worry about it? If they poop in the trailer on the way there, chances are that it will be a poop-free visit inside? [/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]Is there any kind of animal assisted therapy certification required at nursing homes?[/SIZE]
     
  10. Dec 9, 2006 #10

    Lil' Horse Lover

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    I had a colt that I took to nursing homes, his name was Smokie. He started when he was four months old and went on until he was seven months old, sadly he died when he was just ten months old. I started training him when he was three months old and he was ready to start as soon as he was weaned at four months old. We got to visit all of the nursing homes in town, I was tremendously blessed! It was a lot of fun, and Smokie seemed to enjoy himself too. He was always VERY well behaved and we NEVER had any problems at all. You just have to make sure that they have the right temperment and love people. For his feet we couldn't find anything small enough (he was only four months old and was VERY TINY) so we used "Baby Booties", yes, soft baby shoes with rubber gripping on the bottom, actually they worked very well. As for the potty issue we purchased a "Bun Bag", and it was a lifesaver let me tell you! It worked like a dream!!!! We also went to little kid birthday parties and schools too. It was fun. We were also invited to walk around at our fair and bring him inside the main buildings and let people pet him. It was tons of fun!

    The pics. below are of him at different occasions (it kinda goes from when he was older to younger):

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  11. Dec 9, 2006 #11

    Fullmoon

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    Mini Lover ~ Yes there is an animal assisted therapy certification that you can get if wanted. It also comes with insurance for you and the animal. You can get a certification through the Delta Society. They will set up a testing area and have several people on hand to make crowd noises, roll around in a wheel chair, argue in front of the animal, bump into them, pick up their feet, open mouth’s, just all kinds of things that you might encounter. You will also have to take a small (very easy) written test. Just look up Delta Society and read all about them.
     
  12. Dec 9, 2006 #12

    Mercysmom

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    [SIZE=12pt]Is there any kind of animal assisted therapy certification required at nursing homes?[/SIZE]

    The ones I go to do not require it but Mercy is Delta Society certified (renewal pending). Most hospitals DO require it (Delta for all species or Therapy Dogs for dogs), at least in my area. I recommend it for anyone considering visiting with their minis. Your animal has to be checked by your veterinarian, you have to pass a written open book test and you and your pet have to go through testing in front of an evaluator in a setting that will resemble things you may or may not encounter. On an Animal Planet show (not mine), I heard 10% of all applicants make it through the testing so I feel honored. It gives me confidence too as the evaluator has to make sure the Pet Partners team is ready for anything that can happen. If you are Delta Society certified you do not charge for your visits.

    In eleven years of service work we do not charge - if folks are insistent to make a donation, I have told them to donate to a favorite charity of their own choosing. Mercy's work is done voluntarily because she spreads a remarkable "magic" of kindness and love - my son has said if the magic has touched you, it is up to you spread it however you see fit. [​IMG]:

    Lots of good suggestions here but the best training I found is halter obstacle training. In a setting like a nursing home where you may be surrounded by wheelchairs and walkers, it is helpful when your horse can step up a little, move back, whoa or move over on a voice command. The odd obstacles to look at also help and if your horse has a melt down in the ring, it may help indicate whether he/she is up to the task. Mercy does not balk at the tiled linoleum that changes color (that can be a problem if you have elderly folks in your horse's way when he/she is trying to avoid "falling into the abyss") nor do mirrors bother her. One of my other minis, Freedom, will spook if there is additional hay in the barn when she comes in at night and she notices EVERYTHING and is visibly upset by it. She is not a good candidate! [​IMG]

    We do not allow Mercy to be fed by anyone as she is VERY food driven and will literally climb in my own lap for treats... she does take a "doggie bag" home to share with the other 5 members of our horse family.

    We then progressed to many outdoor events... Mercy has handled helicopters landing and taking off in close proximity to her, sirens, guns (in a parade), loud music, crowds, fire trucks, police cars, people yelling (in Delta Society testing - she yawned).

    The public as a rule does not seem to think that minis kick (I tell people - if they have teeth they can bite and if they have claws they can scratch and if they have hooves, they can kick) and we usually have kids and parents who stand right behind Mercy... :no: To discourage this, I point at the tail and tell people "That is where the poop comes out" and the expressions on folks' faces as they run is hilarious. Little kids are notorious for wearing flipflops and sandals when they are visiting us so we warn them that Mercy weighs 350 lbs and their toes are at risk so be aware. Halter obstacle training helps here... if Mercy looks like she is going to swing her butt around to reposition herself and take out half of a class in the process, I can ask her to step forward or over in the opposite direction to avoid doing so.

    You may also get the "horse hogs"... kids (and adults) who do not allow others in the crowd to take a turn. Luckily I have only run across one or two of these... usually kids by themselves whose parents are off at some other aspect of the festival...we have reported this to festival organizers as all children should be safe and attended by their caretakers. Potty breaks work well here, too. [​IMG]: I liked the sign that I saw at our trailer repair facility, "Unattended children will be given an expresso and a free puppy." I think a bag of candy and cookies, a double expresso and a free puppy would really be discouraging!

    We use Vetrap - would never take a chance having a horse slip and fall on linoleum. :no: That would be a good way to lose your horse's trust, or even worse, injure a resident or yourself. Duct tape works well, too. For long visits with lots of walking, reapply as necessary - horse hooves are sharp and will wear through the tape.

    Mercy and I have been at this for 11 years...and I can literally take her anywhere that she fits. Attendees at the MA Equine Affaire saw me (lost as usual - I am directionally challenged) and Mercy (ears up and very confident in her self-assured way) trying to find our booth so we entered right along with the crowds entering the Mallory Complex...no hassles, no poop, no problems! She thinks she is a human a lot of the time.

    Mercy does not wear the "diapers" that driving horses wear... she has been very good about telling me when she has to go... but she has learned by giving her "alert" and I rush her out for a "potty break", she gets to eat on the trailer (where she poops) so she has faked me out a few times.

    Your horse's body language can tell you a lot - if your horse is stressed by a certain person (you can tell by tensing muscles, ear position, etc), politely excuse yourself and move on to another location or take a potty break. We did a series of summer camp visits on one afternoon - visiting 4 locations, traveling by backseat of my Jeep, nontheless. Mercy liked the first, second and fourth locations but the kids at the third location were rowdy, loud and obnoxious. The camp counselors were having trouble getting them to be quiet. Mercy had a different look in her eyes and her stance was different. I asked her if she liked the particular camp she was visiting, cueing her for the "yes" answer and Mercy shook her head "no" to my horror and to the delight of the kids there. However the kids were a little more polite and respectful after that!

    I always remember "SAFETY FIRST" and never consider your horse totally "bombproof" - when you let your guard down is when accidents can happen.

    Just my two cents on another subject that is very dear to me. [​IMG]:

    Denise

    Silversong Farm
     
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  13. Dec 9, 2006 #13

    Mercysmom

    Mercysmom

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    I PM'ed you - one useful suggestion for all interested is to shadow an experienced team in an actual setting to see how things really go.

    Denise

    Silversong Farm
     
  14. Dec 9, 2006 #14

    PaintedPromiseRanch

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    wow lots of great training advice Denise... even though we've been doing this awhile i'm going to try some of those things too!

    the only thing about Delta Pet Partners is, it's kinda expensive - at least i thought so. it cost me $130 for the training for me and the test for the horse... then they told me i had to get a vet health cert. which cost me $30, and then you have to pay Delta itself for your certificate and badge, and they "suggest" all sorts of other "equipment" that all costs too. so i stopped... haven't gotten my actual Delta cert. yet. hopefully the training doesn't "expire" LOL
     
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  15. Dec 9, 2006 #15

    Reble

    Reble

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    We where invited and now its is going on three years. We do our visiting outside.

    Picture of Sundance getting spooked proof and ready for his adventure:

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    Here he is working at his job:::

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    Here is Rowdy my new colt just arrived a month before his duty on the job.

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    An just a little addition doing her Job well:

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    I always believe this is the best job in the world putting smiles on Senior faces.

    They all seem to brighten up my Day.

    Sorry got carried away with pictures
     
  16. Dec 9, 2006 #16

    HobbsFarm

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    [SIZE=12pt]Do any of you let your horses ride in your truck, car or jeep instead of pulling a trailer? If so, do you have any suggestions on an easy way of getting them in and out if you aren't able to just pick them up and put them in? Peter Pan is so small (175 lbs.) and I can't see pulling our big horse trailer since he will fit fine in the backseat of my truck if I flip the seat up. Thanks! Shannon[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]PS. I love all the pictures of your minis making people smile! [​IMG]: [/SIZE]
     
  17. Dec 9, 2006 #17

    Lil' Horse Lover

    Lil' Horse Lover

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    When I was taking my little colt to nursing homes we transported him in the back of our suburban, he weighed about 100 pounds (maybe less) and we made a little ramp for him to get into and out of the trailer. We just tought him to walk slowely and carefully up it and down it. And he did great with that.

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  18. Dec 9, 2006 #18

    CyndiD

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    I have been taking my old fella, Zorion, to nursing homes for about 2 yrs. now and I am very fortunate he never really needed any training. He is quiet and gentle by nature, and that is what even gave me the idea to take him.

    I just bought a minivan for the sole purpose of going out with him more often next summer...I am not very good at hooking up a trailer and its so much easier to just load him in the van and "go".

    I really enjoy taking him, and the smiles I get are so worth the trouble!! [​IMG]:

    [​IMG]

    I also want to add that during this particular visit, the home was having a "fair" and we were there 4 hrs. and we went outside often for potty breaks..he NEVER has gone to the bathroom inside...and he seems to know to wait...

    I don`t have the photos online to add, but we made a lot of room visits that day...and the look on their faces when I asked if I could come in with my "horse"....it warms the heart!! [​IMG]:
     
  19. Dec 14, 2006 #19

    ~Karen~

    ~Karen~

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    I have just seen this thread, sorry for being a little behind, but I wanted to say that these stories are so touching! I really enjoyed reading, and seeing the pictures of smiles! What a blessing your little mini's are being in the lives of others! :538:

    ~Karen
     
  20. Mar 5, 2020 #20

    anacastanort

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    Hello! I have a question--> I have 2 minis that I'm training for therapy. I would like to take them to nursing home/hospitals.....we all know owning horses is not cheap! How much do you charge to make these visits?
    thank u!
    Ana
     

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