As Mayo Clinic explains, “pet therapy” includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders. Therapy animals are also often brought into nursing homes.
Southhaven Aged Care, in Padstow Heights, Australia, often uses pet therapy to help bring joy to the residents. It also starts conversations about the past, which helps spark memories and stories.
Dogs are common therapy animals, but it’s not every day that you see a therapy horse! On December 5, a 17-year-old horse named Bushman visited the nursing home and residents fell in love with him. Many of them loved reminiscing about horses they used to own and ride. A lot of those residents grew up on farms and loved seeing a horse again in real life. It lifted their spirits tremendously.
As Bushman roamed the halls of Southhaven, you could see every resident’s face light up. They all put out their hands to pet him while they wore a giant smile. If the residents were bed-ridden, Bushman would go into their room’s and stand by their beds so every single person could get a chance to spend time with him.
Peter Jessing, Southhaven manager, says the residents are still talking about Bushman’s visit, even weeks later. There has been such a positive feedback from the residents and their families.
Bushman is specially trained and is part of The Travelling Horse organization. He visits different retirement homes around New South Wales.
The video of Bushman visiting Southhaven was posted on their Facebook page where it has racked up over 3.7 million views and 81,000 shares. Watch it for yourself in the video below: