Small but mighty miniature horses offer therapy and hope
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Small but mighty miniature horses offer therapy and hope

August 12, 2019


>>Sreenivasan: FROM DOGS AND RABBITS, TO GUINEA PIGS AND EVEN BIRDS, PET THERAPY ANIMALS COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES. NICK BLUMBERG, FROM OUR PARTNER STATION WTTW IN CHICAGO, HAS THIS REPORT ON A PINT-SIZED EQUINE THERAPEUTIC MISSION THAT IS BRINGING HAPPINESS TO THOSE IN NEED.>>Reporter: THESE ARE AMERICAN MINIATURE HORSES.>>THEY’RE NON INTIMIDATING, THEY’RE TINY, THEY’RE MAGICAL LOOKING.>>Reporter: AND THEY’RE THE… AHEM… MAIN ATTRACTION OF THE NONPROFIT MANE IN HEAVEN. THAT’S M-A-N-E.>>WE TAKE OUR ADORABLE LITTLE MINIATURE THERAPY HORSES TO HOSPITALS, REHAB CENTERS, NURSING HOMES. OUR GOAL AND OUR MISSION IS TO JUST BRING A LITTLE BIT OF HAPPINESS AND COMFORT AND JOY TO THOSE IN NEED.>>Reporter: FOUNDED IN 2012, MANE IN HEAVEN IS AN ALL- VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION BASED AT A PRIVATE FARM IN BARRINGTON.>>WE WORK WITH THE HORSES FOUR DAYS A WEEK. WE DO TRAINING AND VISITS, SO IF WE’RE NOT ON A VISIT, WE’RE TRAINING HERE. THEY HAVE TO LEARN THEIR COMMANDS. THEY HAVE TO BE USED TO PEOPLE HUGGING THEM AND PETTING THEM. LEARNING ELEVATORS, LEARNING DIFFERENT FLOOR SURFACES.>>Reporter: AND, VOLUNTEERS HAVE TO LEARN ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. NO, THEY HAVEN’T BEEN SHRUNKEN DOWN. THEY’RE NOT PONIES. AND YES, THEY’RE FULL GROWN.>>WE JOKE THAT THEY MIGHT GET WIDER, BUT THEY WON’T GET ANY TALLER.>>Reporter: ANOTHER COMMON QUESTION: WHY ARE THEY WEARING SHOES?>>FIRST OF ALL, THEY DO PREVENT THEM SLIPPING ON THE FLOOR. ALSO GOOD FOR INFECTION CONTROL. PLUS THEY JUST LOOK PRETTY DARN CUTE. SO THAT’S THE OTHER REASON WHY.>>Reporter: THESE THREE LITTLE GUYS GET TO ENJOY A RELAXING DAY OUT IN THEIR PADDOCK, BUT TINKERBELL AND HOPE ARE GETTING LOADED UP INTO THEIR BUS, A MINI BUS, OF COURSE, AND WE’RE HEADED TO A SHRINERS HOSPITAL FOR A VISIT.>>I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW FULFILLING IT IS WHEN YOU WALK INTO A HOSPITAL ROOM OR WALK INTO A SCHOOL AND SEE THESE GREAT BIG SMILES, PEOPLE’S EYES GET WIDE, AND THE LAUGHTER.>>Reporter: BUT THEY’RE NOT JUST ENTERTAINMENT. SOMETIMES, THE HORSES PROVIDE MOTIVATION FOR YOUNG PATIENTS WHO ARE SCARED TO GET THEIR BLOOD DRAWN OR WHO ARE WORKING TO IMPROVE THEIR WALKING.>>WE’LL PUT ANOTHER LEAD ON THE HORSE AND THE KIDS CAN HELP US WALK AND LEARN COMMANDS, LIKE WALK AND WHOA. IT’S REALLY POWERFUL TO SEE THESE KIDS ENGAGE WITH THESE LITTLE GUYS AND SEE THAT THEY’RE CONNECTING AND THE HORSES ARE LISTENING WHEN THEY’RE ASKING FOR THEM TO DO SOMETHING.>>Reporter: WHILE MANE IN HEAVEN ASKS FOR DONATIONS, IT DOESN’T CHARGE FOR ITS VISITS. IT’S MADE ABOUT 60 VISITS SO FAR THIS YEAR. THOUGH THE MINIS SHARE A THERAPEUTIC MISSION, THEY ALL HAVE DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES.>>TINKERBELL IS SUPER CURIOUS. SPIRIT IS VERY SPIRITFUL. HOPE IS VERY SWEET AND GENTLE. BUT IN GENERAL THEY’RE ALL VERY CALM, VERY COMFORTING, AND THEY’RE VERY INTUITIVE.>>Reporter: THEY MAKE VISITS ALL OVER THE CHICAGO AREA, SO KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR THEM, BUT LOOK DOWN.>>WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING IN MY POCKET!

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