Therapy Shetland pony helps stroke patients feel better
22 January 2020
A therapeutic pony named Secret visited the Stroke Unit at Southend University Hospital on Monday 20 January.
A therapeutic pony named Secret visited the Stroke Unit at
Southend University Hospital on Monday 20 January.
The four year old Bay Shetland pony, which stands 10 hands tall,
that's almost 3.5 feet high, was accompanied by her owner, Nikki
Birch, from The Ramblers Riding Club in Leigh-on-Sea. The pair were
the 'mane' attraction on Benfleet and Paglesham wards, spending
time on the wards with patients who are recovering from a
One of the first patients that welcomed Secret was Nasreen
Janjua, from Westcliff. She practically leapt from her chair to be
near the pony and gave him a lovely fuss. She said: "I never
imagined we'd have a pony on the ward, this is such a lovely
surprise! It's brought back a lot of happy memories from when I was
growing up. It's magical!"
Trevor Bradly, from Benfleet, was another patient who got to
give Secret some welcome fuss. His daughter, Charlotte Robinson,
from Surrey, couldn't quite believe what she was seeing. She said:
"I've just finished a 16 hour night shift, so thought I was seeing
things at first, but this visit has just raised everyone's spirits.
I've not seen dad smile like this for a few days. Such a brilliant
And although it's a fun visit, there was also a serious side to
it as well. Ward Manager, Karis Reeve, explained: "Wonderful visits
like this help break up the routine for patients. Due to having a
stroke, lots of our patients have sensory deficits, so that means
they may have lost the use of one of their arms, legs or even one
side of their face. But this encourages them to try and touch or
smile. Even if they can't, you can certainly see the smile in their
The plan now is that Secret, Nikki and Natalie Shepherd and
Rebecca Harris, also from The Ramblers Riding Club, will be paying
regular visits to other parts of the hospital on a monthly
Notes to editors
Therapeutic animals regularly visit patients in Southend
Hospital as such visits can have positive effects on patients'
recovery. A full infection control and risk assessment is
undertaken before therapy animals visit the wards.
l-rSecret; Nasreen Janjua, from Westcliff; Ward Manager, Karis
Reeve and Secret's owner Nikki Birch.