November 15, 2019
Following several days of record breaking cold temperatures relief was in the air, warmer temperatures returned and the Merciful Minis stepped off the trailer to visit their neighbors at Victorian Village.
The little minis entered the beautiful building confidently and were immediately greeted by staff and residents awaiting their visit. Thee minis made their rounds with each person. Seniors had the opportunity to pet each little gelding, some for the first time in their lives.
A couple celebrating 75 years of marriage asked for the opportunity to have a photo shoot with our little golden Hawk who happily complied.
At one point during the visit a Merciful Mini volunteer was overcome with sadness, remembering the loss of a loved one not long ago. At that point Hawk, sensing the volunteers’ grief, walked up to the volunteer and leaned closely to her, head resting against her side. All without the handlers’ prompting.
The visit continued. All said their goodbyes. The Merciful Mini Team left the building knowing that a special connection was made that afternoon reaffirming our belief in the power of the human-equine bond.
November 8, 2019
Chicago’s cold November brings a chill in the air that requires an extra ounce of warmth in our coffee to bring comfort to our volunteers who brave the elements and come out in the cold as the Merciful Minis prance up into the trailer on the way to visit Smith Village Retirement Center in the southwest Beverly neighborhood.
Upon our arrival we were visited by an enthusiastic administrator who greeted us warmly at the doorway to tell us how excited the seniors were to have the minis make a return visit to their beautiful home.
As the miniature horses confidently entered the lovely carpeted room we could hear the giggles of seniors excited at the prospect of horses inside of their home, donned with holiday plaid ribbons on their tales.
The minis visited with each senior. There was a wide range of horse experience in the room; one senior spoke of living on a farm in Ireland surrounded by animals while still others had never touched the mane of a horse in their lifetime. Regardless of their past experiences with horses each senior had the opportunity to feel the fluffy, clean winter coats of a miniature horse meticulously groomed for a pre-holiday visit. Many seniors called for the minis to continue to make more rounds, stay a little longer, and at one point, come up to their room for a longer visit.
It was at this time that I noticed that cold weather was no longer a factor. The minis once again found their way into the warm hearts of all- residents, staff and Merciful Minis volunteers.
Homer Glen Library
It was a beautiful day to visit with a mini and read about a famous adventurer who traveled the ocean in search of a country hundreds of nautical miles away from their native land.
Following the read aloud activity families were able to enjoy the companionship of the Merciful Minis. With blue skies and beautiful autumn colors in the background, each child was able to sit on a bale of straw to pet the mini horse and have their photo taken for keepsake.
Fall is an awesome season in the Midwest. It’s hard to find a better way to spend an afternoon while immersed in a good book with a cute little mini beside you.
October 4, 2019
The Merciful Minis returned to Harvester Place on a cool, cloudy fall morning. More than forty residents were waiting in two separate rooms for the minis to arrive.
One by one Hawk and Luna Rae stopped to visit each resident. The handlers introduced each mini, giving brief background information on the miniature horses’ age, training, diet, and preferences.
Seniors talked about their past experiences with animals, from life on a farm to absolutely no previous contact with horses or other farm animals. Although unable to see, one senior wanted all to know that she and Hawk had made a connection much deeper than the eye could see. They connected with one another; they communicated thru touch and feeling. As I meet people of all ages, backgrounds and social physical needs there are moments I wish our little mini could have extended visits for additional one on one time with those who have made a special connect. Hawks’ meeting with this senior was one of those moments.
I have developed a better understanding of the term “Unconditional love” since my work with our miniature therapy horse team. I have witnessed many moments when an extraordinary bond has been made between horse and human in a very brief period of time.
There is a huge commitment in caring for a team of miniature horses. The rewards are intrinsic; as with Hawk’s visit today the value of a human/equine bond is at a level much deeper than monetary profit or public recognition. The bond represents one individual caring for another.
September 20, 2019
Driving into the entryway at Smith Crossing was a bit challenging with all of the construction vehicles hard at work but the reward of meeting so many enthusiastic seniors made the trip exceptionally worthwhile.
The minis confidently exited the horse trailer and headed directly to the beautiful garden where seniors awaited their arrival. One by one the horses stopped to say hello to each senior. The handlers responded to each question and allowed time for the mini and senior to get to know one another, sometimes with a pat on the shoulder or a gentle rub in the mane.
The seniors fondly recalled their life experiences with horses. One senior grew up on a farm in central Illinois. Another senior drove her daughter to horseback riding lessons years ago. While stroking the nose of our sweet little mini Hawk, another senior exclaimed that this was her first opportunity of ever coming in contact with a horse and she hoped she would have another opportunity sometime soon.
The teams of minis and handlers waited for the first group of residents to reenter the building to allow time for a second group to visit the minis on the garden patio.
It was a lovely outing. The minis made new friends, many seniors were giddy (up) with joy, and the Activity Director invited us for a return visit in the spring.
With tiny little bodies and hearts as big as Texas, our Merciful Minis continue to make extraordinary connections with those they meet. I am so proud of our teams for the joy they give to others.
August 24, 2019
With the feeling of Fall in the air, Merciful Minis returned to the beautiful St. Joseph Park in Joliet for the annual Celtic Fest. Hundreds of people attended the event enjoying good food, live music, and games for young children.
Families were excited to hear the minis would be returning and were especially surprised when our beautiful Mercy dressed in her colorful unicorn attire in keeping with the spirit of the Gaelic theme. Children couldn’t wait to have their pictures taken with a REAL unicorn and our sweet Falabella Mini horse appeared to love the adulation.
Families showed their appreciation by visiting our display of beautiful hand made jewelry donated by a friend of our therapy program. One of our Junior Handlers helped to sell the items and answer questions about the work of Merciful Minis. The support was overwhelming!
The minis will be concluding their 2019 schedule with several more fall visits to area centers. Look for the minis jewelry at Homer Glenn Library craft show on September 21 . Proceeds of our sales go directly to support the health care our miniature therapy horses.
We are a non profit organization and all donations can help when filing government taxes.
Every visit brings thanks and appreciation. Often a special moment passes between one of the minis and a resident or student. A smile, soft touch and even a song. Merciful Minis was formally thanked at a recent Board of Education meeting in school district Orland Park 135 for bringing Hawk and Rae to the extended school year program. Not only did the kids create a beautiful card, they bought treats for the minis to enjoy for a job well done. Thank you.