Pony visits stir happy memories for aged care residents in Kellerberrin

Animal company: A Dryandra resident with blue dun pony Katherine. Photo: Supplied.
Animal company: A Dryandra resident with blue dun pony Katherine. Photo: Supplied.

Memories from their younger days on farms have been rekindled for many residents at Baptistcare’s Dryandra residential aged care in Kellerberrin when 14-year-old mini horses, Katherine and Silver came for a visit.

While dog visits are not new in aged care, Baptistcare is taking a different tact by introducing pony visits to their Kellerberrin facility where farming and handling horses has been a way of life for many residents.

Dryandra’s lifestyle coordinator Shizuka Yokoi said interacting and patting the ponies resonated with many residents who had lived on farms or who had horses growing up.

“We saw residents who were often quite shy, smile and laugh when the ponies came up to them," she said.

“Having access to horses and ponies is one of the benefits of living in the country in Western Australia."

Pony owner Jonelle Tiller said the response was so good she intends to bring her ponies to Dryandra on a regular basis.

“I was very happy to see the positive effect the visit had on so many residents and I couldn’t be more pleased,” she said.

Ms Tiller runs a farm a few kilometres north of Dryandra in the Western Australian Wheatbelt where ponies Katherine and Silver live alongside her daughter’s 10-year-old Welsh Cob, named Fleur.

Katherine and Silver are firm friends and have been together since they were three weeks old.

“They do everything together, including eating and sleeping," said Ms Tiller.

“They are gentle souls who love human contact and while they might be in my care now, they were trained to socialise by their previous owner in Albany."

The pony visits were an initiative organised by Baptistcare.