July 2, 2019
“Hot and humid with a potential for scattered thunderstorms”
When we schedule our visits, sometimes months in advance, we can never be sure what Chicago weather has in store for us. Today was a day when our little miniature therapy horses “stepped up to the plate” and showed us the strength of their character.
Fortunately the ride to the camp was a five minute trip from the stable to Shady Oaks. Still early in the morning for a slight summer breeze, Hawk and Rae stepped out of the warm horse trailer and walked with their handlers to a perfect spot under the shade of beautiful stately oak trees.
Those attending the summer camp awaited the arrival of the minis with young college age assistants by their side. The therapy horses greeted all those in attendance, and even in the heat, reached out to nuzzle with those anxious to connect in body and soul.
As a testimony to the capability of each Merciful Mini handler, during this visit our volunteers assumed different responsibilities, taking turns in the introductions, fielding questions, and helping in trailer loading. I am so grateful for their professionalism and willingness to adapt to all situations with gentle care for the animals and respect and care for all we visit. They are our true Ambassadors!!!
When it was time to say goodbye, the minis enjoyed a cool mist from a spray of water on site for those who cared for a brief refresher. The horses and handlers did not object at all to this new experience for the young minis.
Following one more round of picture taking, the minis hopped onto the trailer and headed home for a nice cooling drink of water under the breeze of a ceiling fan.
Merciful Minis Visit Park Retirement in Elmhurst
June 21, 2019
After two failed attempts to visit last year due to inclement weather, Merciful Minis visited the beautiful Park Place Retirement Center in Elmhurst. As the minis were preparing to unload from the trailer we were greeted by a gentleman who, upon seeing from his balcony window the truck and trailer enter the parking lot, quickly put on his sandals and greeted the miniature horses as they stepped off of the trailer.
With a broad smile he reached into his wallet to show several black and white pictures of him standing alongside beloved horses in his youth. He proudly talked about his life as a dairy farmer in Ohio, university administrator in Iowa, and then horse trainer in the Midwest. He was an amazing happy man and admired our minis Rae and Hawk, appreciating their beauty and calm demeanor from the eyes of a genuine horseman.
Following some picture taking our handler teams entered a lovely garden to visit seniors anxiously awaiting our visit. One gentleman insisted that he stand up and take the lead of a mini, beaming that he was able, with assistance from an aide and a team handler, to proudly stand beside a gorgeous mini. The young horse recognized the importance of this event and quietly stood beside the delighted senior.
Each mini continued on their mission of joy, stopping to make connections with all in attendance. There was a continued outpouring of residents leaving their apartments as the word spread that there were horses in their gardens.
The miniature horses did not object to continue “working the crowd” as it was clear that the seniors were enjoying this visit.
When it was time to leave, we said our goodbyes, and calmly walked back to the trailer for the ride home. Once again, our three year old miniature horses behaved like seasoned pros, loving their jobs of bringing joy to others.
A Mini Lesson on Empathy
June 18, 2019
The minis returned to The Homer Glen Library for an outdoor read aloud activity accompanied by a small toy horse named “Empathy”. The sun was shining, a small breeze was blowing, as the young children sat in the shade of a tree for an interactive reading of a children’s picture book highlighting empathy for family and friends in varying situations.
The children learned that all people struggle with things, from illness to going down a tall slide; and that during those times it’s helpful for others to understand their struggle and to help as others have helped them.
Following the read aloud and discussion period the Merciful Minis joined the children and parents. A team member highlighted the work that the minis do throughout the year helping others who may be struggling.
Children were invited for an opportunity to come to each mini for picture taking and petting as each child sat on a bale of straw for their time with our awesome three year old miniature horses, Hawk and Luna Rae.
At the conclusion of the activity, Rae took a bow and the minis returned to the trailer for the brief ride back to the barn.
June 14, 2019
It was a beautiful Friday afternoon as we pulled up in the trailer to visit seniors in a lovely building in a park like setting in Joliet. In anticipation of our visit, a handful of seniors were lined up outside trying to get a first glimpse of the Merciful Minis therapy horses approaching the entryway to the retirement center.
The automatic doors opened and the minis walked through the lobby, passed the office, and into a large room with more than twenty seniors seated in wheelchairs awaiting our visit.
One by one Hawk and Rae stopped to visit each senior. With hands outstretched to greet the mini, seniors were able to pet each horse and engage in conversation with our teams of handlers.
Seniors smiled as they shared experiences of their youth and their love of past animals in their lives. They were so grateful to be able to enjoy their time with the minis and as we were prepared to leave, they spontaneously began to applaud at which point the miniature horses took a bow and exited the room only to find still more seniors waiting outside for additional with our charming little minis.
We are so grateful to our volunteers and supporters who make our visits possible. While there are many challenges in operating a miniature therapy horse program, each visit we make supports our belief that there is so much joy and reward in making connections with those in need.
Good job, Little Minis, we are so very proud of your work!
May 30, 2019
In between visits Merciful Minis enjoy daily grooming and training. Contact with others, human, canine, feline…, is essential in preparing therapy horses for their role in working with others particularly those who the horses don’t see on a daily basis.
The minis then learn to trust others and accept being held and brushed by people of all ages and backgrounds.
Pictured above are young handlers grooming Lolly and Mercy while the youngest of minis, Cally (Bella) reaches out to massage the pony tail of the young junior handler.
If you or a family member are interested in learning more about the care of minis, please contact us to schedule a visit. We invite you to join our team and be a part of our mission to improve the lives of others through the unconditional love of our beautiful little horses.
Follow our journey, be a part of our team, wear your mud boots and contact us at
A Visit to Chateau Assisted Living
May 24, 2019
This has been a spring like no other with constant rain, thunderstorms, flooding, vehicle problems and limited hay supply. However, our little minis continue to carry on with their mission to share their unconditional love with those we meet.
At the request of the staff at Chateau our minis met more than twenty seniors waiting in wheelchairs outside of the beautiful facility in what fortunately turned out to be a warm and sunny early Friday afternoon.
Our beautiful little minis, Luna Rae and Hawk greeted each senior stopping for one on one time as the small therapy minis showed off their soft noses, warm coats, and tender eyes. They moved along the circle of seniors and many of the staff and seniors complimented the minis on their lovely purple ribbons attached to the horse’s long flowing tails. Picture taking was constant and stories were exchanged about the fond memories many experienced with loving animals in their childhood years.
When it was time to leave the minis and handlers were followed for a time by seniors in their chairs hoping for an extended time with the therapy horses.
With a broad smile on her face one senior remarked “I never thought I’d have a horse visit me”! There is so much joy in making connections with others. Well done Merciful Minis!
Merciful Minis Visit Alden Rehabilitation
May 10, 2019
As we travel throughout the Chicagoland area our miniature therapy horse teams have the privilege of meeting hundreds of people bonded together by a love of animals. This was our first visit to Alden Center and upon arriving we could feel the anticipation of the residents at the thought of horses entering their building for an opportunity to come face to face with a tiny little, big hearted miniature therapy horses.
The two young therapy horses knew their job, Luna Rae and handlers went to the right of the group, Hawks’ handler team went to the left. The therapy horses stopped to meet each resident for a Meet and Greet; residents reached out to give nose and neck rubs to the little horses often commenting on how soft their manes are and the tenderness of the minis’ pink noses.
Questions were asked: How old are the minis? Will they get any bigger? Why are they wearing boots? Are they “housetrained”? (a concern of many)
The seniors and staff marveled at the minis beautiful blue eyes and tiny little hooves.
After making a complete round of “How do you do’s” the handler teams repeated their time with the residents, making sure that each senior had a special one on one time with the Merciful Minis.
Prior to exiting the building, Luna Rae and handler Martha went to the center of the room, the mini took a bow to the crowd, and the team exited the building. If smiles on the faces of those less able are a measurement of the success of each visit, it is safe to say that the Alden residents enjoyed our little Mercifuls and will have unusual conversations with friends and family as they recall two tiny horses parading in the Alden Rehab Center on a Friday afternoon.
Merciful Minis is blessed to be supported by a core group of volunteers committed to improving the lives of others. We are so thankful for the generosity of donators who enable us the opportunity to visit the ill and less able in our Chicago region while caring for the health and well being of our therapy mini horses.
A special acknowledgement to our handler Christine Margaret for her very generous donation this month to help with the cost of spring vet bills and dental work for our ambassador minis. Thank you from our heart to yours 💕
Merciful Minis Visit Palos Rehabilitation Center
May 3, 2019
Preparing for therapy visitations takes thoughtful planning and preparation. Prior to each visit team members meet with Activity Directors to establish a date, time, room location, and most suitable parking for our truck and horse trailer. We talk about an activity that would be most suitable for those we are visiting.
Team handlers clean our minis who have been rolling in the mud throughout the week as only three old horses would love to do. Other handlers are skilled at braiding manes and tales, adding bows and ribbons in seasonally fashionable colors. The truck needs to be hitched to the trailer, cleaned and ready for safe transportation to our sites.
As we were preparing to leave the barn for our May 3 visit to Palos, our team handlers were challenged to overcome an unanticipated problem when our aging, yet up to this point reliable truck, failed to start. Not wanting to disappoint a room full of seniors excited to see the minis, our team handlers recalled the days of our youth when we drove whatever vehicle was available to us. We borrowed jumping cables, hooked our truck to another, and with a little extra time needed to give our battery a boost, we were ready to make the trip arriving on time to a room full of seniors, staff, and excited family members (making sure not to turn off the truck during our visit).
Our minis Luna Rae and Hawk were amazing. The attendance was larger than anticipated, and at one point there was a toddler riding his tricycle in and out of the circle beaming with delight at the sight of the minis in a room that on occasion serves as a chapel. Each senior had the opportunity to pet the minis, and many seniors recalled with fondness the visit they had last year with Merciful Minis and indicating that they will be looking forward to a return visit in 2020! Joy in living, hope for a rewarding tomorrow. Mission accomplished, little therapy horses.
Side note for those who may be concerned: Yes, we replaced the truck battery!
April 26, 2019
Our Marvelous Minis, Luna Rae and Hawk, now experienced therapy horses, confidently visited Mother Theresa Retirement Center in Lemont. More than twenty seniors waited for the arrival of the minis and their handlers. The minis walked around the center of the room stopping to visit each senior eagerly waiting for the opportunity to pet, hug, or kiss the gentle miniature horses.
Many of the retirement center staff members were also on hand for picture taking as the young minis stood proudly beside all who cared for a little unconditional love from a miniature horse who understands and enjoys his work of adding joy into the lives of others.
Merciful Minis teams of handlers are grateful for the support of the communities we visit. We invite you to follow our journey and support our program as you are able. You are welcome to visit the minis for a “hands on” opportunity to groom and walk beside a mini; and to learn the importance of caring for animals so eager to care for us.
Please follow us at mercifulminis.org