Mary Rose and her Miniature Therapy Horse Honey are changing lives while volunteering together in Florida.
In this bonus episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Mary Rose Gullet about her unique journey with Honey, her miniature Therapy Horse. We recorded this episode on Celebration of the Horse Day to learn about what it’s like to train and partner with equines for therapy work.
Note: You may notice an odd transition here or there as we did run into some technical issues with this episode but it shouldn’t be too disruptive and you won’t want to miss their story.
Mary Rose tells us all about how she started Honey’s Mini Therapy Adventures, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, beginning with bringing home Honey as a birthday present for her daughter. Soon after, she realized that this mini horse had something to share beyond their family. Together, they faced challenges, as many facilities don’t have experience with Therapy Horses, even if they’re familiar with Therapy Dogs. But with some hard work and support from others, they became a perfect therapy team and have added other teams to their non-profit along the way.
We talk about what makes Therapy Horses different and special. Not everyone has met a mini horse, so it can be a fun surprise! Mary Rose also shares stories of their visits to places like hospitals and schools including a post-operative seizure patient and a woman with dementia.
During our chat, Mary Rose shares some challenges they’ve faced along the way, like preparing Honey for visits, taking insurance into consideration, risk mitagation and even house training. She gives some great tips for anyone thinking of training their own therapy horse.
We also learn about the special bond between horses and humans. Horses can feel when people are stressed or sad and help calm them down. Mary Rose also shares a cool fact: horses have a special energy that can help people feel better.
Towards the end, Mary Rose shares her big dreams for the future of therapy horses. She’s even studying to make her dream bigger and help more people with horses like Honey.
After listening, you’ll understand how horses, just like dogs, can touch hearts and change lives. So whether you’re a dog lover, horse lover, or both, this episode is sure to inspire you!
In this episode, we discuss …
- Why Mary Rose knew that Honey had something special to offer to others as a Miniature Therapy Horse.
- What Honey’s training looked like and the special considerations for equine therapy.
- How Mary Rose hopes to see other places benefit from more Miniature Therapy Horses.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
Note that the timecodes match the video, not the podcast.
- [00:01:58] Mary Rose shares how she got into therapy horses after receiving Honey as a birthday present for her daughter.
- [00:03:50] Mary Rose talks about the challenges she faced, since most therapy animals were dogs, not horses. She thanks her community for their support.
- [00:05:07] She discusses the difference between therapy horses and dogs, noting that meeting a mini horse like Honey is a unique experience for many.
- [00:08:20] Mary Rose explains how preparing a horse for therapy visits is different and more involved than prepping a dog.
- [00:10:15] She brings up the interesting topic of training horses to use the bathroom in controlled ways, and how she was unsure about it at first.
- [00:12:22] The chat moves to how they train therapy horses, especially focusing on where they go to the bathroom and the treats they get.
- [00:15:20] Mary Rose shares a touching story about Honey making a patient in the neurological ICU smile and talk after surgery.
- [00:18:25] She recounts another heartwarming story where an elderly lady with Alzheimer’s remembered her past because of a horse visit.
- [00:23:12] Horses can feel how a person is doing emotionally, as they can hear their heartbeat up close.
- [00:23:29] She cites a heartmath.org study, explaining that horses give off a positive energy that helps calm and de-stress humans around them.
I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a watch or a listen and then let me know in the community which part you found the most helpful!
Mentioned in this episode:
- Heart to Heart: A quantitative approach to measuring the emotional bond between horses and humans
- Heart-to-Heart Communication With Horses
- Honey’s Mini Therapy Adventures
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Do you know someone who would make a great guest? Be sure to reach out and let me know.