Therapy horses helping patients recovering at ECMC

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Quentin and Lilly walk down the hall on the 8th floor at ECMC.  The two don’t look like a usual pair making rounds on a hospital floor being as they’re miniature horses.

“You don’t get animals coming through every day,” said Markeel Hilson, a patient on the floor who is meeting a horse for the first time. “I was a little nervous getting close but it’s nice petting them and knowing they’re not going to bite me. They’re friendly ponies.”

Hilson, 21, arrived at ECMC in early September after being shot multiple times.  He’s been going through rehabilitative services with the staff trying to regain strength.

“They’re helping me work on my upper body strength in case I have to go home and my legs aren’t back yet.”

He finds spending time with the horses a welcoming distraction from what’s going on around him and why he’s in the hospital.

“It’s nice,” said Hilson. “It’s the most entertainment you have coming to the hospital.”

The certified therapy ponies have spent hundreds of hours training for the moment they’ll be meeting patients.

“It can help with stress and anxiety,” said Jeannine Sauriol, the regional marketing director for Centers Health Care. “It gives [patients] a way to relax and something different than the usual therapy pets.”

While the patients are excited to be spending time with the animals, they’re hopeful they won’t be around the next time Lilly and Quentin make their rounds on the 8th floor as they want to be discharged and on their road to recovery by then.

“Basically, I’m just getting stronger now,” said Hilson.

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