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Miniature horse brings huge joy to dementia wards

19 December 2017

Health Care

Dogs and even cats have been known to deliver smiles and therapy to patients at Southend Hospital but, for the very first time, the hospital has welcomed a miniature horse.

Standing just 28 inches (or seven hands high) Applause, a tiny white American miniature horse aged14,trotted to Windsor and Princess Anne wards at the Trust.

Claire Buckell, Clinical Development Nurse, said: "Even on your worst day your pets can make you smile. Staff on Windsor ward were so excited to meet Applause and introduce him to our patients. In the past doggy therapy has proved very positive so when the opportunity came up to have a miniature horse we jumped at it. Any change to the daily routine for people who are unwell can really make a difference and Applause had such a fantastic positive impact."

Elderly patients from both wards took the opportunity to meet and stroke Applause as he greeted them in day rooms and by their beds on side wards. Thrilled to meet the equine visitor it evoked memories of miniature horses at the fair for one, whilst another was overcome with emotion at how lovely this unique experience had been.

Amanda Poulton, Applause's owner from Alamanda Therapy Animals, a non-funded charity staffed by volunteers who also have their own health issues and are based in Basildon, said: "Applause is such an inquisitive mini horse who just loves to meet all sorts of people.  He has been there and seen most things having visited so many people over the last 11 years that he has been doing Animal Assisted Therapy.

"He can be very mischievous at home but put him next to a two year old child with a brain tumour or at a fundraiser with fire engine sirens going off, and he knows his job. Patient but nosy, he never fails to make people smile. He has been trained to walk next to wheelchairs so that even the most disabled person can interact with him and he even goes up stairs or in a lift." 

No stranger to the limelight Applause has also appeared in Prima magazine and alongside that other white haired star, Phillip Schofield on This Morning.