On Tuesday (July 27), Barchester Longueville Court Care Home hosted the visit of Pickles and Oliver, two Shetland therapy ponies.
Six year-old Pickles and seven year-old Oliver were accompanied by handlers Foo and Sarah on the day and were invited to bring cheer to all of the residents but particularly Sarah Colliers (44).
Sarah has been at Longueville Court since April and is an experienced horse rider. Last year, however, she suffered a fall and was left with life changing injuries.
She is an avid animal lover and has ridden horses since she was a child. It was her dream to see a horse again to touch and smell another and experience the sensation again.
Once the home’s Head of Activities Michella Walker found this out, she was determined to make Sarah’s dreams come true and set about finding if there was anyone willing to bring their pony in to visit Sarah. She was overwhelmed by the response.
She said: “Once I found out Sarah’s passion for horses and her dream to see one again, I set about trying to find a way to make it happen.
“I put a post on the Horsepoo-Cambridgeshire Facebook page and was gobsmacked by the response. It was unbelievable, I got 62 messages from people willing to help out.
“When I first told Sarah, she actually cried. It was very overwhelming.”
In the end, Michella got in touch with Lindsey from The Pony Therapy Centre in Hitchin and arranged for Pickles and Oliver to come in and go room to room and into the gardens visiting the residents.
She added: “Sarah absolutely loved the afternoon. It was wonderful to see a massive smile on her face when she saw them. She knew so much about horses.”
Another resident who really benefited from the visit was Beryl. She has been struggling to figure out where she is recently and has often been crying. Once she found out about the possibility of seeing a horse though, she completely transformed.
She used to be a rider as well and when told about the visit, she was able to stop crying and hold an in-depth conversation with staff about her riding skills and how she first learnt at age 12. Staff described it as being as if she ‘went back in time.’
Residents and staff at Barchester Longueville Court very much enjoyed the day and hope to see the ponies again soon, insisting that carrots will be on hand for more kisses and cuddles.