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Therapy pony is a ‘mane’ talking point for hospital patients

Therapy pony is a ‘mane’ talking point for hospital patients

Miniature pony Secret may be small in stature – standing just under a metre tall – but she is big on spreading love and helping boost patient recovery at Southend Hospital.

The eight-year-old miniature Shetland has just received a certificate of recognition for her work from the Southend Volunteer Awards for her dedication in helping bring joy and wellbeing to patients on their wards.

It’s a recognition made all the more special as it is normally only something given to people, but due to the number of votes, the miniature pony was given her own certificate.

Secret’s owner, Nikki Birch from Silverbirch Animal Therapy in Eastwood, said: “Secret loves trotting onto the wards and meeting new people. She just loves being stroked and fussed and you can see the huge smiles she brings to those she meets. Therapy animals like Secret can really help to improve people’s wellbeing and mental health.

“Our hospital visits are the highlight of the month as it brings so much happiness to so many people.”

Helen Cullen, Ward Manager of Balmoral Ward, said: “A lot of people laugh when they hear a miniature pony is coming in, but it makes a real difference to patients. Secret brightens the day of patients, relatives and staff, it’s therapeutic and reminds them of happy days with pets. There's sometime tears, but they are happy tears because of the memories it triggers. Many patients have said before they never thought they’d see a pony again.”

One patient who met Secret was Daniel, who said: “I didn't expect that, I really didn't. If I'd told my family I saw a horse on the ward today, they never would believe me!”

Secret’s visit, made possible by Mid and South Essex Hospitals Charity, is one of several animal therapy visits across the Trust.

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