Patients at a hospital in the West Midlands have had a surprise visit from Shetland ponies as part of therapy.
The miniature horses, from the Phoenix Children’s Foundation, based in Leicestershire, were petted and fed by stroke patients, as well as youngsters being treated by the paediatric team at Sandwell Hospital.
Lilly and Fern were brought along as part of a pet therapy programme at the hospital, in West Bromwich, which is run by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust.
The horses were led through the main entrance of the hospital and into an outdoor play area attached to one of the paediatric wards.
Arron Chohan, 11, from Tividale, had been at the hospital for a physiotherapy appointment and was left overwhelmed by his close encounter with Lilly and Fern.
He said: “They are really beautiful and their fur is soft.
“We heard there were ponies here, but I thought someone joking.
“It’s really cool and I’ve enjoyed meeting them today. It’s a great idea.”
Claire Mcquoid, 38, was with her son Freddie, aged two, who is being treated at the hospital.
She said: “We’ve learned with Freddie that he’s very delayed with his speech due to being born prematurely and suffering meningitis at a young age.
“However, he shows animals a lot of emotion and affection. Seeing the horses today has put a big smile on his face and he is really excited.
“He loves to interact with animals all the time and it helps with his progression.”
The visit was funded by Your Trust Charity, which is run by the hospital Trust.
Amanda Winwood, fundraising manager, said: “The patients have absolutely loved meeting Fern and Lilly today.
“For some of them, it’s the first time that they have got close to a horse and been able to feed or walk it.
“Others used to keep horses as pets and so it brings back memories for them.
“It’s very important for our patients to experience something like this as it really enhances their care journey with us.”
Dr Balraj Mavi, who works in one of the paediatric wards, said: “Having these animals here has really made a difference to the patient experience today.
“It has helped them to enjoy their visit.”