Gypsy the miniature therapy horse spreads joy between younger Nemours clients


Dequavion Brim, who has cerebral palsy and does not speak, could not verbalize what he assumed of Gypsy the miniature therapy horse.

But the thirteen-12 months-old’s significant, prolonged grin after touching the horse’s neck and mane in the foyer of Nemours Children’s Specialty Treatment in Jacksonville informed his tale.

“He cherished it,” claimed his grandmother and guardian, Evelyn Warren. “That implies he’s incredibly satisfied.”

She counseled Nemours — and Gypsy’s owner and coach Jennifer Pfieffer, a Nemours nurse — for providing clients a brief but welcome diversion from their ailments.

“This is so good. He is in and out of the healthcare facility a ton,” she claimed. “This allows them know they are cherished.”

Tuesday three-12 months-old, one hundred fifty-pound Gypsy invested an hour or so — with a crack at the halfway point to go outside and eat grass — assembly Nemours clients and their mom and dad and siblings. The visit was the initial of what will be normal Gypsy encounters inside of the constructing, as the latest variety of animal-assisted therapy at Nemours. The therapy does not involve using the horse, but the kids hugged and petted Gypsy and posed with her for images.

Slideshow: Gypsy the miniature horse delivers cheer to Nemours Children’s Specialty Treatment

6 therapy canines frequently intereact with clients, but Gypsy is the initial horse to do so, claimed Erin Wallner, Nemours spokeswoman.

“Our goal is that kids have a good encounter for the duration of their visit to Nemours,” she claimed. “We hope that the therapy provided by Gypsy’s existence will assist to simplicity fears and lessen the stress and anxiety that can at times be connected with a visit to the doctor’s business.”

Pfieffer started out animal therapy volunteering in 2003 with a Fantastic Dane named Summit. He retired at ten many years old but then aided her teach Gypsy, who Pfieffer acquired at six months old.

“It was like a mentor-mentee partnership,” she claimed.

The training and tests Gypsy went as a result of integrated all sorts of scenarios she might experience, this kind of as loud noises and kids tugging at her. Registered with the nationwide therapy group Pet Companions, she has volunteered at educational facilities, nursing homes and libraries and labored with veterans, walked in parades and participated in group activities and one particular-on-one particular sessions with kids on the autism spectrum.

The reactions Gypsy elicits from folks who fulfill her — particularly kids — make all the preparing worthwhile, Pfieffer claimed.

“It makes me warm and melting inside of. This is why I do what I do,” she claimed. “It gives me goosebumps.”

Some of the kids who met Gypsy Tuesday had been taller than the 29-inch tall horse, but a number of, which includes twins Adeline and Crosby Acord, experienced to seem up at her. The twins, who are almost a 12 months old, experienced differing opinions about the encounter.

“She cherished it, he was not absolutely sure,” claimed mother Kathie Acord.

Jonah Hicks, six, claimed he was a Gypsy admirer after petting her hair and proclaiming it “soft.” His sister, Paris Bennett, 12, was a lot more enamored with her hooves, which had been adorned with pink surgical wrap.

“I want shoes like hers,” Paris claimed, with a grin.

“This was so sweet,” claimed their mother, Tiffany Hicks. “What a great day.”

Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109

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