I have been working with Minis and Friends since I moved to the Austin area last year, and it has been positively wonderful. The people in leadership positions are present, active, and genuinely care about everyone involved (horses included!) Everyone who interacts with these minis gets to feel the benefits of equine therapy, from the youngest child at Dell Children's Hospital to the oldest of our volunteers. When I was looking for an organization that combined my love of animals with my desire to help my community, I couldn't have imagined that I would find such a perfect fit.
I can't even begin to describe what this group means to me and what we give back to the community. We take the mini therapy horses to Dell Children's Medical Center, nursing homes, Alzheimer's facilities, shelters for abused kids, etc. It is hands down the most satisfying volunteer job I have ever had. There is no better feeling than seeing the smiles on people's faces when we bring these tiny horses to them. We lift their spirits, make them happy, and let them forget about their troubles for a while. The horses have an amazing effect on Alzheimer's patients - they often become lucid and present when we bring the minis in. The patients' families and care givers are always stunned, and they are so grateful for what our group does. I can't think of a better way of giving back to my community.
I have been with Minis and Friends for about 2 1/2 years. Joining the group was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was looking online for more volunteer opportunities when I came across their page. When I saw I could help people AND work with tiny horses, I was ecstatic! I signed up right away, and went through the volunteer orientation. Minis & Friends does amazing work in the community. We visit Dell Children's Medical Center, shelters for abused children, nursing homes, Alzheimer's facilities, and even a women's correctional facility. The effect these little horses have on people is nothing short of amazing! People light up when they see the minis, and are just tickled when they get to pet them, groom them, and walk them. The minis get LOTS of hugs and lots of smiles. We bring happiness to the people who need it most!
What a great nonprofit! We love all the volunteers and mini horses. Sally and friends have been coming to our Family Day at the Center for Child Protection for many years bringing their mini horses and it's what everyone is always waiting for... so grateful for their kindness and generosity - the work they do is remarkable. Thank you so much to Sally, all the volunteers and Minis and Friends for everything! -Anne West, Volunteer Services Manager at CCP
I have been with Minis and Friends about four years. I believe that in the presence of these little therapy minis, one forgets all else for a while and is firmly in the moment. That's when there is joy.
I have five therapy minis and I believe they are for sharing!!! We all get as much out of the visits as those whom we visit. Our 'smile muscles' hurt, there are tears sometimes and it is our mission to show we care. The mini therapy ambassadors are so amazing. They know when they are working and are gentle and patient. They pull you right into their heart circle. There's no escaping it!!!
There are enough stories to fill a book. After a five minute visit with a woman in a wheelchair at a nursing home, I thanked the woman for the visit and said that we needed to move on down the hall. She had been hugging and petting the mini. As we walked away, she turned to the woman beside her and said, "Such a nice dog!!!".
Another time a patient hugged the mini and sobbed for 15 minutes as the mini stood patiently with his head resting on her lap.
All the volunteers have their 'ah-ha' stores. The minis provide a starting point for the interaction. We talk to residents in nursing homes and ask if they ever had horses. We have some really great conversations. Many people have not had the opportunity to be around an animal bigger than a dog since they moved into the nursing home. There are many who rode a horse to school or did ranch work with their horses. Many memories shared with us.
Once, as we walked up to a man in a wheelchair, the staff stood behind him and mouthed the words that this gentleman HATES animals. They were shocked as he hugged the mini and talked to him.
I'll stop now, but I could go on...
It is a very unique experience and one that you won't soon forget! Join us, if you think your smile muscles can take it.
Minis and Friends is a 501c3 organization that serves children, youth, adults and seniors in the greater Austin area who have mental, physical and emotional challenges and disabilities. There is a magical connection between people and the tiny horse ambassadors. I feel that they plant you firmly in the 'here and now', a space that leaves no room for anxiety and worry for the past, present and future. Whether you are in a nursing home, a special education class or in your wheelchair in the Healing Garden at the Dell Children's Hospital, when a tiny horse puts their head in your lap, they create a place of total focus on the relationship. It's you and a horse. They nuzzle and get close to you. They'll put their head right on the bed in a nursing home or step right along the side of a wheelchair for hugs. It is virtually impossible not to be drawn into the moment. We hear people say, "Oh, they have made my day", "Could you leave them here with us?", "I used to have a horse", "I could hug them all day!" and "I have never seen a horse indoors". (They wear dog booties to walk on indoor surfaces)
We have witnessed someone talking to a horse having not spoken for over a year. There are Alzheimer patients who remember the horses' names, cerebral palsy patients who move to touch the horses and special needs children so filled with excitement that you can barely stand it. And those are the people we visit. The truth is that the 'trickle down' effect touches not only our target audience, but the nurses, the parents and families, teachers, nursing home staff and, in a huge way, the volunteers.
The volunteers go to visits week after week and they keep coming back for more. The experience of presenting the minis where smiles are needed, provides us with something deeply satisfying. When you visit from room to room you show, for this little visit, I am here, I brought you a four legged friend and we care. And then the mini magic happens!
The minis are tiny and travel in my Volvo station wagon. I am a board member, volunteer and mini owner of Wiggins, Fiona and Jooney Belle. Three little magic makers.
Minis and Friends is a family of volunteers. It is simply, the best!
Our organization has worked with Minis & Friends for several years and each experience we have is beyond delightful.
I think everyone can agree that interacting with the Minis is good for the soul. We always enjoy having the Minis out; the interaction with the Minis and the rest of the team is always exceptional.
The work Sally, Sherry and their team do is unbelievable! It's amazing the care they have for their mini horses, and the way they deliver the mini horse experience to children and adults.
They have the best attitude, and they have created an amazingly effective system. Hard to believe!
I have volunteered with Minis and friends for about 6 months now! I can not say enough great things about all those who are involved with this group! The volunteer training was well thought out and I felt very prepared to go out with the mini's to the community! The events that I helped with are the highlight of my weeks! To see the pure JOY on the children's and the parents faces is something I will never forget! There is AWE in the kids faces when they see and interact with the mini's! They get to "decorate" the mini's with flowers, hats, beads ,etc! They sometimes even get to take selfies with them! My only regret is that I don't have more time in my schedule to attend every event!
I have volunteered with this organization since 2009. I have been truly blessed to witness unique and amazing experiences as we visit facilities throughout Austin. These incredible Minis, possess an intuitive therapeutic ability, which our volunteers, who are extensively trained to handle a minature horse, interact with patients and clients, who may be suffering physically, mentally, or emotionally. This magic happens, each and every visit, as the Minis and volunteers bring smiles and lift spirits. The animal to human connection can not be overlooked or underestimated.
As an owner of4 therapeutic miniature horses, I have seen the magical effect they have at lifting spirits of the most vulnerable population in our community. The human to animal connection is truly amazing and underestimated, but I've seen it over and over as we visit hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, and children's shelters.
We recently volunteered to serve with this amazing group. We have seen the joy and smiles of the elderly and the children brought by these little horses and the loving volunteers that share their love and time. This is an incredible organization that can reach out to those that are hurting and just need a little nuzzle or to softly touch a cute mini that can unconditionally give love in the most gentle way. To see the eyes light up and hear the excitement in their voices are the most rewarding blessings a volunteer can experience. LOVE THOSE MINIS AND THIS INCREDIBLE TEAM.