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Couple’s miniature horses bring joy to sick and disabled children, elderly patients and dementia sufferers across Scotland

Elaine and John are the founders and driving force behind Therapy Ponies Scotland. The couple, both 59, founded the remarkable organisation nine years ago, after a friend suggested they take one of the Shetland ponies they kept at home in West Lothian to visit a rehabilitation care home.

The patients – many with brain injuries – immediately bonded with the tiny horse, called Wilson, and the care home asked if he could visit again. Realising the impact animal therapy can have, Elaine and John now visit care homes, nursing homes, hospices, day-care centres, sheltered housing facilities and out-of-school clubs for disabled children across Scotland.

They have 15 ponies, and Elaine says: “We travel to wherever we are asked to go, where possible. The amazing reactions and responses from residents and patients we see can be extraordinary.

“Sometimes people who don’t normally speak or hold a conversation can be talking to us and the ponies much to the amazement of their nurse and carers.”