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Small horses bring big smiles to seniors

small horses.jpeg
Posted at 10:28 PM, Oct 05, 2021

Mini Joys, a nonprofit in Boise, Idaho, is known for its miniature horses.

Laurie Bell started the nonprofit nine years ago, visiting classrooms, foster homes, children's hospitals, and senior homes.

"We don't usually have horses in the lobby," said Barbara Davidson, a resident at The Terraces of Boise. "You know, they're charming little beasts."

It brought back memories for Davidson who grew up around horses. She says her mother loved animals, particularly horses.

"I didn't ride many horses," Davidson said. "I was always too short to get the saddle on! I needed a mini horse then!"

"People who used to have horses just take that sniff of a horse, even if it's just 28 inches tall, and all the memories flood back," Bell said.

Even around strangers, the animals, which wear stylish shoes, are patient and gentle.

"Our smallest one weighs 100 pounds soaking wet!" Bell said. "His Build-a-Bear shoes are too big for him."

The shoes definitely score some style points, but Bell said it's the animals' personalities that really make an impact.

"Horses are really intuitive," Bell said. "We have a sassy donkey at home who's just kind of ornery really! But I'll always ask, 'Is there someone who really wants a challenge?' and boy, the toughest kid steps forward. We give them Hope, the donkey, and pretty soon they're like this [fingers crossed]; best buds. Like, she gets it. You're strong-willed, I'm strong-willed, you know what, we can do this together!"

Bell said she started the nonprofit so she could combine her passion for helping people with her love of horses.

"I think I came out of the womb and said, 'mommy, daddy, horsey!'" Bell joked.

This story was originally reported by Karen Lehr on