Big Christmas cheer with miniature therapy ponies


Staff and residents at Banstead-based maritime charity, The Royal Seafarers’ Society, have been getting into the festive spirit with a visit from therapy animals Dotty and Blossom.


The miniature ponies from Kingswood Shetland Ponies in Surrey, delivered an animal therapy session on 19 December. Blossom and Dotty toured seafaring residents of the charity’s care home Belvedere House, including its dementia wing, to give residents an opportunity to interact with the calming miniature ponies in the familiarity of a caring environment.


The two ponies are part of a team of therapy animals from Kingwood Shetland Ponies. Dotty is a two year old spotted miniature pony who was born blind in one eye. Blossom is nine years old and is especially good working with children. The two ponies measure nine hands each and spend their days eating hay and providing therapy sessions.


Royal Alfred’s elderly residents come from seafaring backgrounds and some arrive at the home with complex needs including late stage dementia. By providing activities such as this, the award-winning care team can offer residents a stimulating and comforting atmosphere in which to spend their days at the home.


The animal visit is an annual event for the home with visits from Mr Kipling the miniature donkey and Maurice the guinea pig from Pony Pals in previous years. Animal therapy is commonly used as an occupational therapy tool for people of all ages and has wide-ranging benefits, including reducing stress levels and providing social interaction.


Anne Kasey, Home Manager at the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, said: ‘We love to see how our residents enjoy the animal therapy sessions, Blossom and Dotty were a source of great happiness during their visit. It is really rewarding to see residents who are bed-ridden or with late stage illnesses interacting with the miniature ponies.  We hope our programme of activities continue to inspire and stimulate those who live with us’.


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