Pony Therapy comes to Beckett

Therapy Pony at Leeds Beckett - photographed by Christopher Boyle

Stressed students are indulging a little “horseplay” as part of World Mental Health Day.

“Pony therapy” can reduce anxiety and depression, therapist Katy Smith told Leeds Hacks.

A string of miniature ponies trotted into the Leeds Beckett Headingley campus and Leslie Silver Building.

KL Pony Therapy are an organisation who provide a unique form of therapy bringing ponies to events or your home, in a pursuit to help with mental health as well other health or learning difficulties.

On their Facebook page it talks about founder of the organisation Katy and what she thought saying:

“Katy found that the reaction from the resident was so positive and good for them especially those that had poor mobility, co-ordination, partially sighted or those who suffer from depression, anxiety & learning difficulties.”
Started as a thank you
Katy, 59, explains how she started pony therapy. “It was a thank you to a care home who looked after my dad. I now visit care homes, hospitals, dementia units, mental health events, pet shows, colleges, universities and many more places.”
“The amount of student interest has been amazing and the interaction with students has made an impact which makes the work worthwhile.
“People can relate to the miniature ponies as they are the size of a small dog, very still and calming, which can release endorphins and reduce anxiety, depression as well as helping the elderly with a number of other conditions.”
Katy goes on to express the gratitude she has for the job she does, explaining that “the horses offer themselves to people 100%.”
She says mental health is a huge part of the work, as the ponies are able to help “from the inside out” which is “good for well-being.”
“Horses are non-judgemental”
And other horse experts agree.

“Horses are non-judgemental and can help children with autism, ADHD and anxiety issues,” said Ms Harris in an article for Horse and Hound

Therapy with animals has become a popular form of treatment, as it is said there are healing qualities which arise from petting and being in the company of animals. Puppy therapy is another popular form, with universities and schools as well as elderly homes hosting these events.

Blogger Charlotte Springall states:

“Horses are used by physical, speech, and occupational therapists to reach their patients on a personal level.Children with autism also benefit from equine therapy due to the motor, emotional, and sensory sensations that come with riding a horse.”

Digby the therapy pony at Leeds Beckett – Photographed by Christopher Boyle

According to Clip Clop Pony rides, “The benefits for individuals with learning difficulties, depression, anxiety and visual impairment is immense.”

Other mental health awareness events

Leeds Beckett University held various Mental Health Awareness events throughout 10th October, to create a conversation about mental health and help students cope with the hardships of university.

These events included:

  • Pony Therapy
  • World Mental Health Day market place
  • Be well
  • Lets think about love, relationships and community
  • Myth busting and awareness raising of self-harm workshop
  • ‘The Parting Glass’
  • From Turbulence to Recovery: My Mental Health Journey

Therapy Pony at Leeds Beckett – photographed by Christopher Boyle

For more information on Leeds Beckett’s Mental Health Awareness day go to the official Leeds Beckett University website.

Find KL Pony Therapy on Facebook .

By Christopher Boyle

About the Author

Christopher Boyle
Christopher Boyle is a third year journalism student at Leeds Beckett.

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