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A therapy pony lit up the faces of patients, staff and volunteers during a special visit to Ashgate Hospice.
American miniature horse Wish Upon a Star – or Wish for short – was welcomed to the North Derbyshire hospice’s Inpatient Unit and Day Services on Friday 18th August.
Patients who were receiving palliative and end of life care at the Chesterfield hospice took comfort in petting and stroking the 16-year-old pony throughout the morning.
The visit was made possible thanks to Katy Smith, of North Yorkshire-based KL Pony Therapy, who provided the service to the hospice free-of-charge.
Her travel costs were kindly paid for by the hospice’s sponsors The Green Hall Estate Management Company.
Karen Walker, Ward Manager at Ashgate Hospice, said: “Having Katy and Wish visit us at the hospice was just so special.
“It was so lovely to see Wish not only bring comfort to our patients but help create such touching memories for them and their families to savour.
“She seemed to have a sixth sense and was content to be close to patients; she just placed her head on the bed in front of them.
“One lady said stroking the pony had transported her back 40 years and said if she had good dreams the following night it would have down to Wish.
“We’re always striving to make every moment as special as it can be for our patients and their families, so we’re so grateful that we could bring such joy to our patients. Everyone at Ashgate can’t thank Katy enough for her generosity!”
The hospice has previously had lambs and regularly has Pets As Therapy dogs visit patients, but this was the first time it welcomed an animal of the equine variety to its ward.
Katy, from North Allerton, said she was the first person to take a pony into a care home when she started KL Pony Therapy 11 years ago.
Now she has eleven American miniature horses which offer therapy to people at hospitals, hospices, care homes, mental health facilities and universities across the country.
Katy added: “I brought Wish Upon a Star to the hospice – she was one of our original horses – and she takes her job very seriously.
“Wish has this sense of purpose and understanding of how sick a person is and can make everyone feel better and a little bit more hopeful and positive.
“During the visit there was a lady on the ward who was in need of pain relief and we were in two minds about going in with Wish, but we did and she told us it was the best pain relief she could have had.
“Visiting hospices gives me goosebumps – for me and my miniature horses it’s so special because you can see exactly what their presence brings to the patient and their loved ones.”
To find out more about how Ashgate Hospice cares for families across north Derbyshire visit the charity’s website.