TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Central Florida mini horse therapy organization is bringing comfort to hospitals, hospice, nursing homes and schools.
Mary Rose Gullet founded non-profit “Honey’s Mini Therapy Adventures” to bring therapy horses to facilities across Florida.
Gullet said Honey, Belle, Dumpling, Bailey, Ninja, Sugarfoot and Ladybug are all therapy horses for the organization, which visits Tampa General Hospital. The horses also visit Saint Leo University, Pasco Hernando State College, University of Central Florida Advent Health in Orlando and Gulfside Hospice. Gullet said they also visit smaller nursing homes and local schools.
The organization began in 2018 and Gullet said they quickly realized how Honey and the other therapy horses were affecting dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
“The smells, sight and touch of the horses bring back memories that are long forgotten. It is incredible to see and be a part of such a unique service that genuinely makes a ripple effect impact on the facilities we visit,” she said.
Gullet said the horses’ visits also impact the staff, as well as guests and patients.
“In our most recent Tampa General Hospital visit, we were told numerous times, ‘this little, tiny horse just made my entire day. You have no idea how much I really needed this,'” she said.
Another staff member said “all her anxiety and stress literally washed away.”
The horses’ impact on the communities they serve is tremendous, according to Gullet.
During the pandemic, she decided to return to graduate school to become a licensed clinical social worker and Gullet is an honors student at Saint Leo University. She hopes to be able to do more in-depth work with therapy horses and the community.
“For example, equine-facilitated psychotherapy sessions can help people with PTSD, eating disorders, autism, veterans and dementia,” she said.
Gullet said all the hard work is worth it.
“If the tiny horse makes that big of an impact on [someone’s] day on crossed paths within in a hospital, then it’s worth all the hard work that goes in behind the scenes to facilitate our therapy visits,” said Gullet.