July 15, 2019
It was a day of homecoming for several of the Merciful Minis Handler team members as they accompanied the miniature therapy horses to a beautiful school in Orland Park as it hosted the District 135 Summer School Program. Many of the miniature horse handlers are recent retirees of the south suburban school district, and are now volunteering to work in the non-profit Merciful Minis Therapy Horse Organization.
On this early Monday morning there was a breeze in the air as more than twenty young students awaited the arrival of the three year old miniature horse team. Dr. Laura Berry, Co- Founder of Merciful Minis, introduced the minis and briefly described the training necessary to be registered as a therapy horse handler team.
Led by their handler team, the minis then greeted each child and staff member allowing time for the young children to pet the mane and feel the soft whiskers of the young, tiny horses, Luna Rae and Hawk.
Many of the students were amazed at the site of small horses with braids and ribbons in their manes and tails, on their school playground. Some children were anxious to pet each mini, while other students were satisfied with admiring the miniature horses at a distance in the comfort of their teacher’s watchful arms.
At the conclusion of the visit the staff and minis said their goodbyes, with hugs and well wishes. The children re-entered the building as the miniature horses loaded into the horse trailer to return to their stable nearby.
This has been a fun filled summer for the minis. We are looking forward to more visits throughout the south suburban area to fulfill our mission of improving the physical and emotional well-being of others. Please follow our journey at mercifulminis.org
July 12, 2019
On a beautiful Friday morning in July, the Merciful Minis were able to take advantage of a brief break in this summer’s extreme heat for a visit to the lovely Evergreen Senior Center in Orland Park ,IL.
The miniature therapy horses were greeted by seniors waiting outside on a shady porch. The minis stopped to greet those waiting before entering the center’s air conditioned lobby where more than thirty seniors, staff and family members were on hand to greet the miniature therapy horses.
One by one the minis took time to visit each senior. The little minis know their job; it’s inspiring to see how the horses instinctively know to reach out to touch the hands of those who are unable.
Throughout the visit Merciful Minis handlers answered questions and shared information about the minis and the schooling that is needed to be a registered therapy horse. Overwhelmed with joy upon seeing the minis, a senior broke out in song and serenaded the minis as they walked by.
When it was time to say goodbye, one of the minis walked to the center of the circle and took a bow to the crowd (he and his trainer had been practicing this and were eager to show their latest skill). A spontaneous round of applause followed as the three year old minis trotted out the doorway and into the horse trailer for the brief ride home.
Each visit renews our belief in the power of sharing unconditional love to those in need. The little minis know their job; it’s awesome to witness the human/equine connection during each of the Merciful Minis outings.
July 9, 2019
More than fifty young children attended a read aloud activity sitting in the grassy shade at The Homer Glen Library as part of the library’s Summer Reading Celebration. A member of the Merciful Minis Therapy Team read “The Smallest Horse”, a story about a miniature pony who had been worried that she was not big enough to have important jobs. The story concludes with the young mini horse discovering that it too, can have an important job helping people feel better when they are going through a sad or difficult time.
Following the read aloud, The Smallest Horse, each young guest was invited to sit on a bale of straw and have their picture taken with a member of the Merciful Minis therapy horse team.
After each child enjoyed their special time with a mini, the horses walked into the trailer for a brief ride back to their barn, less than a mile away from the library.
The Merciful Minis will be traveling at the end of this week to meet seniors in an area assisted living center. Young or old, our little miniature therapy horses enjoy their special moments of sharing their unconditional love with those they meet.
Please follow our journey at mercifulminis.org
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!