Harnessing the Power of Pet Therapy

June 21, 2017

All pet owners know the joy and unconditional love animals bring to life. During a hospital visit, just being around animals can reduce stress for the patient, family members and staff.

AppleJack, a miniature therapy horse, is a 2-year-old, 32-inch AMHA (American Miniature Horse Association) registered pinto gelding, the namesake of AppleJack Therapy.

He’s a registered therapy horse who loves to make everyone he meets smile and recently made the first of what will be monthly visits to Mercy Children's Hospital St. Louis.

AppleJack, a miniature therapy horse, visiting Mercy Kids on the plaza.

AppleJack, a miniature therapy horse, visiting Mercy Kids on the plaza.

While they aren’t as common in a hospital setting as other animals, horses are naturally compassionate and nonjudgmental. As herding animals, they rely on sensory data to feel safety or danger and can mirror and respond to human behavior. Because of these traits, therapy horses bring calmness and comfort while increasing socialization, reducing boredom and anxiety.

"We were exploring new opportunities for pet therapy and found AppleJack Therapy," said Lauren Lee, manager of volunteer services at Mercy St. Louis. "We're excited to have AppleJack visit us each month and really think it will help boost the kids' spirits."

AppleJack poses with Emily Hoffman, founder of AppleJack Therapy, before visiting Mercy Kids.

AppleJack poses with Emily Hoffman, founder of AppleJack Therapy, before visiting Mercy Kids.

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