The therapy horse concept was created by Centers Health Care, the horse’s owner Shawn Emmons, and a Robbinsville, N.J., police officer to uplift the spirits of patients in nursing homes and rehab facilities.
“I’m in therapy. A lot of people are past therapy. So what do they do now? They wait for the horses to show up,” patient Bobby Ott told Courier-Post.
The mini horse, Duncan, and a Shetland pony named Moon Pie have become something of nursing home celebrities. “They can’t wait for [Emmons] to come [with the horses],” Deptford Center’s executive director of recreation Paige Doumenis said of the patients.
Both Duncan and Moon Pie are clad in matching black-and-white sneakers that resemble the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star. The sneakers were actually intended as decorations for Build-a-Bear teddy bears, but serve a practical purpose the horses: The shoe’s traction helps prevent the animals from slipping on slick tile floors.
Emmons says Duncan actually has four different pairs of shoes that he switches between as he travels across New Jersey.