Shetland ponies bring joy to north Edinburgh adults with learning difficulties

Pocket sized ponies helped bring smiles to adults with learning difficulties during visit to a care facility in Granton.

Friday, 19th July 2019, 6:00 am
The oldest resident, Ella Olsson, 96, with the ponies


. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
The oldest resident, Ella Olsson, 96, with the ponies . Pic: Lisa Ferguson

The residents at Elizabeth Maginnis Court, which looks after the needs of adults over the age of 55 with learning difficulties in north Edinburgh, had two very special visitors today.

Wilson and Flicker, two miniature Shetland ponies who have been specially trained by handlers John and Elaine Sangster, attended the home for a unique therapy session with its residents.

The sturdy little steeds tour around the country visiting care homes and hospitals cheering people up with their calm and happy personalities - and their constant demands for a caring nuzzle.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Therapy Ponies Scotland visit residents and tenants of Elizabeth Maginnis Court. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Care resident Stuart Dalziel, 55, is from Edinburgh and has Down’s Syndrome said he ‘really enjoyed’ the visit.

He said: “It was so nice, the ponies came over to have a cuddle and I felt really happy. I would like them to come back. I really enjoyed meeting the ponies”.

Fellow resident Jemima Grant, 60, who has complex care and additional support needs, said she “loved when the ponies gave her a little kiss”.

Ms Grant added: “I really liked stroking them, they came over and put their head on my knee, I felt really happy today because of the horses.”

Therapy Ponies Scotland visit residents and tenants of Elizabeth Maginnis Court. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Staff at Elizabeth Maginnis Court have been working hard over the last two months to prepare for the visiting ponies.

Senior care and support worker Craig Ellery, 61, said that he was “excited to try out this new activity”.

The care team are planning to host the ponies on a regular schedule thanks to the popularity of the visit today.

Elaine Sangster, 54, owns the company Therapy Ponies Scotland with her husband John, said: “Because it is such an unusual thing, to walk into a room with a Shetland pony, it distracts people from what they have been worried about, or if they are not feeling very well within a few minutes of being with the ponies and touching them there is a change and it’s just lovely to see.”

Husband John added: “It’s really hard to explain what we do with the ponies, but we know it works. We see so many happy people everyday, it’s just brilliant.”