Our visits to Woodland Country Manor are often times the highlight of our week. Yesterday we were able to visit again with Wendy, Harley, Willie Nelson & Jet. The residents were waiting patiently in their activities room watching for us to unload and walk in.
Many of the residents remember certain horses and their names, asking if two of our horses, Dallas or Dakota, were with us today. A huge step for memory care patients.
As always with this care facility, we visited residents who lived on farms or owned horses at some point in their lifetime. We visited an older gentleman who had raised and trained donkeys in his younger years. Age had taken away his ability to care for his beloved animals and was forced to find homes for the donkeys. He invited our team to visit with him in his room to chat for a moment and see the horses. When we entered the room, he was flooded with emotions that he said even surprised him and asked us to forgive him for "crying like a silly baby". He was overwhelmed with the loss of his own beloved donkeys, something we could easily relate to since we too love our horses. He asked to touch the noses of both animals and wanted to pet them. Our horses brought back memories of his days training his animals and how much he loved caring for them. He, himself was surprised of the emotional impact the horses had on him. He couldn't put into words his joy in being able to touch a horse and reminisce about his days bygone. It was such a bittersweet moment.
Further into the visit we were able to spark the memory of other horse lovers and other horse trainers. Many of them shocked at the size and struggling to call them horses. "They're just so small! Smaller than some dogs." We saw many familiar faces and met some lovely singers. Jet had the pleasure of listening to a love song sung by a women with such a beautiful voice.
One truly inspiring story came from a woman who spoke "Is that a real horse?" She's never been one to talk anything but jiberish hardly making words, and to see the horse and compose a full sentence was a shock to the whole medical staff. These are the moments we cherish, that our horses are making such an impact in the lives of those we visit.
After our visit, the staff gave us little bowls of ice cream for the horses. What a hoot! Jet and Willie Nelson tried it, but it was Wendy who wanted to eat the whole bowl! The team experienced a lovely day filled with laughter and smiles. Our visits are never the same at each facility we visit. Each person we see has a unique story to tell. We love hearing every one of them and are thankful our little horses are frequently the spark that will ignite a memory.