They stand at just 27ins tall – but they make a big impression wherever they go.
Miniature Shetland ponies Winston and Flicker paid a visit to Lynn of Lorne care home at Benderloch near Oban yesterday, bringing big smiles to the faces of the residents.
The private residential home, which cares for people who are frail or have dementia, was visited by Therapy Ponies Scotland.
Husband and wife John and Elaine Sangster run the small west-Lothian based business, where they have a total of 15 ponies.
Leading the Shetlands into the Lynn of Lorne lounge, Mrs Sangster said: “They are used to this. They are lovely and are ideal for this kind of work. They love attention. Sometimes people who don’t normally engage or speak will come alive when we put a pony in front of them. They become quite animated. The caring staff can be quite in awe of how the ponies make these people feel.
“If anything, they make people smile, and really, is there any better therapy? If they can make people smile and make them happy I think they have done their job.”
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The ponies spent time with each resident, approaching people and allowing themselves to be stroked.
They are highly trained to be comfortable with noisy atmospheres, buzzers and alarms going off. They never bite or kick.
Donald Henderson, 76, a resident, said: “It is very nice to see them. They have made my day. Look at their wee shoes.”
Mrs Sangster added: “The demand is very high. We also visit hospitals and hospices. At first hospitals weren’t sure but once they got to know us they were quite happy. The ponies are immaculate. They wear little boots, to stop them slipping and for hygiene reasons. It’s no different to a person walking onto a ward.”
Georgie Taylor, home manager, said: “We saw this on the Care About Physical Activity website and thought it was a fantastic idea.
Amazing visit this morning with Wilson and Flicker to Livingston Care Home. The residents just adored the boys and it was nice to be back. Some great conversations today and some super photos.
“We have recently completed an overhaul and we are trying lots of new things.
“This is definitely something that we will be doing again because the residents love it.
“It has brought back memories for a lot of people today. We had one woman who was recalling her time in the army.
“Because of where we are, a lot of our residents have lived on crofts, so it is lovely for them.”