Dinky Ponies are a local organisation that bring their mini-Shetland therapy ponies to visit care homes, schools, and hospitals in and around Swindon, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.
Dinky Ponies was started last May in 2022, with the ponies mostly visiting children's birthday parties throughout the summer months.
Over time, the organisation has grown when founder Sarah looked at venues needing enrichment sessions indoors when the weather was turning colder and wetter during Autumn and Winter.
She added that since last year, the demand for enrichment sessions within care homes has been massive.
Sarah says that because her mini-Shetlands are so small, they can go most places - as long as there is enough room to safely manoeuvre the pony.
Her animals often visit people in bedrooms that are not able to leave their beds very easily, and often go in lifts to call on people on different floors.
Sarah explains how a Dinky Ponies visit works: "We spend time meeting and mingling with staff, residents, and their families. People like to brush and decorate the ponies and some people like to just stroke and talk to them.
"Others that we visit just love to watch them. Everyone is different. But the interaction is wonderful and the smiles they create are priceless. Some people are depressed and lonely, and just having something to distract them and to talk about with someone different is all it takes. I get told by the staff that residents often talk about the visit from the Dinky Ponies for days after we’ve been."
Sarah has five ponies - Poppy, Tinks, Georgie, Abbie and Gracie.
She says they all have different jobs and enjoy various different types of visits. They are all described as very calm ponies, with wonderful temperaments.
Sarah added that her pony Poppy is particularly good with elderly people as she is very calm and sensitive and enjoys nothing more than resting her head on peoples laps.
She continued: "Tinks and Georgie are very good with children’s homes or facilities that are particularly loud and noisy, as they don’t mind the quick movements and lots of noise. Abbie and Gracie are very popular with children’s parties and often get special requests to be the guest of honour at little ones parties!"
Dinky Ponies have also been visiting the Great Western Hospital, and are volunteering there with a different pony every month.
Sarah explained: "Its being organised that we will visit different wards each time and so far, the uptake and interest has been amazing!"
Dinky Ponies are finalists for this year's Muddy Stiletto Awards for Wiltshire’s Best Childrens Business. Those wishing to vote for the business can do so by visiting https://wilts.muddystilettos.co.uk/vote/, selecting Wiltshire, and choosing the Best Children's Business category.
Voting closes on 8 June.
More information about Dinky Ponies can be found on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ridgeway2021/ or on its Instagram page at @dinkyponies
Sarah can also be emailed directly via [email protected]
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