- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2016

MATTOON, Ill. (AP) - Horses moseyed up and down the halls of the Mattoon Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center on Saturday, greeting those living there as well as visitors.

Andra Ebert of Heartland Mini Hoofs, along with Sophie Zimmerman, volunteer, brought Jasper and Winnie, American Miniature therapy horses, both standing under 34 inches tall, to visit with those in the center.

Heartland Mini Hoofs is a mini equine therapy visitation program. Ebert said she makes several visits to various areas letting people see and pet the tiny yet full grown horses.

According to Ebert, Jasper, at 31 inches tall, is the stubborn one out of the group of therapy horses she owns, which also includes Bailey, who could not join them because of a surgery. While calm at home, the chestnut-haired horse often gets difficult when trying to get him to go on visits.

On the other hand, Winnie, the baby of the group, is a white and black buckskin horse who is considered the touchy one.

“Every once and while, parents have a child that touches everything,” Ebert said. “That is Winnie.”

Strapped with colorful manure bags and handle-saddled, the two took a stroll through the center.

While the weekend visitors were more mini than what is normally expected, for some in the center, horses were a common part of their adult or childhood life. Rekindled memories of their past with horses surfaced as the two animals greeted them.

Jane Dawson, who lives in the center, said she often was around horses when she was a child because of her grandfather, who owned horses. Saturday was the first time in a long time she had seen horses again.

“I haven’t seen those since I was a little kid,” Dawson said.

Diane German of the center’s activities department said like with other therapy animals, the horses do a good job of evoking memories from clients’ pasts as well as getting them active in some way.

“They love anything with fur,” she said.

Zimmerman said the horses just bring a smile to their faces.

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Source: Journal Gazette & Times-Courier, http://bit.ly/1Uy7OCb

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Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette, http://www.jg-tc.com

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