You’ve likely seen miniature horses at fairs or expos, but did you know they’re also involved with therapy? Oklahoma is home to a few mini horse farms that serve the state.
Located in Sapulpa, Peaceful Ponies Foundation provides healing therapy to people with the help of equines, specifically miniature ponies. These highly trained animals are dedicated to visiting those in need. Visits are therapeutic and are not only comforting to patients, but to caregivers, too.
Carol Hotubbee and her husband, Carl, operate this nonprofit organization. Peaceful Ponies has three mini ponies: Rosebud, Kiwi and Sally. Carol trains the ponies in the “real world,” such as Tulsa’s Riverwalk. Rosebud, she says, is “particularly accustomed to people; she’s very well known in several communities.”
Rosebud knows 90 words and 45 commands; she will give kisses to calm someone, and can circle, jump and smile on command.
“She knows how to pose for the camera,” says Carol.
The husband and wife duo have been in-state since 2016, but Carol started training and working with mini ponies years ago. 250-300 pounds of muscle, these animals have a low center of gravity, giving them extra power to kick. So, Carol looks for certain characteristics in a therapy mini pony … including calm demeanor, trainability and empathy.
How Minis Can Help
The ponies visit a variety of places, such as nursing and retirement homes. Clients who have received mini pony therapy include everyone from children on the autism spectrum to veterans with PTSD and victims of sex trafficking.
Peaceful Ponies serves clients of all ages. Just being with the mini pony helps each person be “in the present moment,” says Carol. “If we can lift up someone, we’ve done our job.”
Activities with a Mini
Visits to see the ponies at the farm itself are available by appointment. Clients can braid the mini’s manes or walk them along one of the trails, built by Carl.
“We can be a little oasis,” says Carol.
See more on the company’s website, peacefulponies.org, or call 918-248-0723.
T&M Stables and Mini’s on a Mission
Mindy Stewart and her husband Trayson own T&M Stables and Mini’s on a Mission. The 200-acre ranch located in Delaware, Okla., has been in Trayson’s family for five generations. Mindy, a life-long equestrian, provides animal-assisted therapy to promote emotional wellbeing.
“I’m an equine specialist life coach,” she says.
She explains that science proves that just petting an animal relieves stress, describing the action as “calming and therapeutic.”
Minis are under forty inches in height, and Mindy describes them as having a “sweet and calm personality with the right training or handling.” The American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) registries have two categories, A and B, with the B class minis being a bit larger.
At the top of the list for caring and keeping minis are: appropriate nutrition, hoof care and dental care, along with grooming and vaccinations.
“The minis need the same treatment as standard-sized horses,” says Mindy.
Visit T&M Stable’s Facebook, or call 918-629-8549 for appointments.