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Smurf the Therapy Pony brings sunshine and sparkles to St Oswald's

We get a lot of special visitors come to see us at the Hospice and today was no exception. The lovely Smurf came to strut his stuff and play with the children in our Children’s Hospice.

Smurf, a 29 year old Therapy Pony, has been part of the family at Mini Pony Hire for over 25 years. He visits care homes and schools and is so clever he can even use a lift when required. Smurf is completely blind but often fools everyone into thinking he can see due to his wonderfully calm nature and his self-awareness. Having free reign at home Smurf lives a very fulfilling life, he loves visiting people and doesn’t feel his disability holds him back. Since losing his eyesight his sense of smell and touch have become heightened - even his whiskers have become longer - which helps him find his way around and not bump into anything.

Lisa Walker, Owner of Mini Pony Hire, said:

I always wanted a pony growing up and as soon as we found Smurf abandoned on the side of the road I felt so lucky. We got him checked out and back to good health again and he became part of our family. I decided I wanted to share him and give something back to the community. We do a lot of school visits and family events around the region and he absolutely loves them.


A lot of the time when we visit schools, the children have never been so close to a pony or any animal before, so I think it’s such a great way for them to get close and stroke them. It’s also really exciting to see the expressions on their faces. We love coming to hospices and giving back to the community, so the more school and family events we do the more we can give back to charities and give children a new and exciting experience.

Mini Pony Hire have a few pony’s and they all have different characteristics, Smurf loves to dress up as a unicorn as he’s so relaxed and great in any environment. With his unicorn horn and sparkly gold hooves the children at St Oswald’s couldn’t believe their eyes. A few nervous faces from the children soon changed to big grins and they couldn’t stop brushing and stroking Smurf.


Smurf Visit 20


Kiera, who uses our Children's Service, said:


It’s been really fun seeing Smurf today, I’ve enjoyed choosing which brush I want to brush him with. He also loves eating the grass, my grass is really long at home, I can take him home and he can eat that for me.


Smurf Visit 114


Ray Fenwick, Support Care Work, added:


It’s been lovely having Smurf come in today, Keira and the rest of the children have been really excited all morning. Luckily the weather held out and it was lovely to sit in the garden and play with Smurf putting bows and plaits in his hair.


We really appreciate when we get visits from companies like Mini Pony Hire as it gives the Children and Young Adults something to look forward to. It’s also a new experience for a lot of them and the fact they can feel the pony really helps stimulate their senses. Thank you Mini Pony Hire, it’s been such a lovely treat.

If you have any therapy animals or know someone who does please email enquiries@stoswaldsuk.org. Our patients and children really benefit from spending time with animals around the Hospice and it can really brighten up their day.

If you’d like to hire any of the pony’s from Mini Pony Hire please visit their website at miniponyhire.com.