A group of friends sat around a kitchen table in late summer 2006, dreaming about their ideal mini therapy organization. As a co-founder, I'm so proud of what the volunteers, our Friends, have done to help Minis & Friends achieve that dream to become a unique service organization in the Austin area. We welcome new volunteers to help in our mission to take our mobile minis to visit those who could benefit from their gentle touch.
As a co-founder of Minis & Friends, I am so proud and grateful for what our organization has become. Almost 11 years ago, we couldn't even imagine the impact our minis and the faithful volunteers have on those we serve in the Austin area.
We are all volunteers and we depend upon donations to help us in our mission to visit children & adults who need that special touch our minis provide. A favorite moment for me was when the minis were out in public and met an autistic boy who didn't interact much with the world around him. He was fascinated by the minis and asked if he could touch one. By the end of this encounter, he was standing next to the horses,asking us to take his picture. We all got a bit misty eyed and his father was holding back tears, saying how amazing it was.
Our tagline "Little Horses, Big Hearts" says it perfectly!
I have been part of Minis and Friends for a long time. They are a great Organization and I love what they bring to the community. A good visit can even lift you up when you are down.
I have been a part of Minis and Friends for a several years and have so many memories to share. We are not a cure for Cancer or any other disease or illness out there. What we do is try to put a smile on a face and help those that are going through a tough time forget their worries if not for just a little while. Some people have no idea how much putting a smile on a face can help. God bless the people we visit and god bless our little horse for their patience and kindness they show while out in the community.
This organization is totally volunteer run. The horse owners generously give their time, dollars, energy and love to bring cheer and fun to individuals facing some tough circumstances. These individuals could be patients recovering from illness or injury, children in a shelter or older men and women in a nursing home or memory care. Volunteer handlers help keep everyone safe and the interactions positive. The smiles, laughter and joy these volunteers and horses bring to patients/residents really do make a big difference.
A great way to bring smiles and a little happiness for people to experience!
I started volunteering with Minis and Friends in August 2017 as part of my social work program at UT Austin. I fell in love with the work they do and decided to continue working with this amazing group of people and minis even after my service learning hours were completed. I was moved by the minis wonderful ability to bring smiles and moments of pure joy to both the residents and the volunteers. Each mini has his or her own personality but they all have a unique ability to connect with those that need it the most. It is truly a beautiful moment to witness when a resident that hasn't left her room in months, comes out into the hallway to spend a few minutes with a mini.
Wonderful organization. Bringing the power of animals to positively affect those in the community. Regular, well-organized outings to public and private places in the community touches the lives of many, all ages, including volunteers and the staff at different places they hold visits at.
II have volunteered with Minis & Friends since 2007. This organization has guidelines for horse handling and volunteers to follow. Team work is stressed at all times. And safety is always used no matter if it is a visit or event. The joy theses little magical miniature horses bring to those with special needs is unbelievable. Watching old folks and children react to the minis is worth volunteering. And one other observation that I have watched. Is the volunteers give up weekend mornings and holidays to work with Minis and Friends.
I have volunteered with Minis and Friends since 2007. Watching what the magical mini horses and volunteers bring to those with special needs. Is so wonderful and seeing smiling faces on those they visit is magical. The little minis bring out the best in all they meet. Old people show joyful reaction they have not had in a long time.And the children seeing them smile is a reward in itself. This organization brings so much to so many in the central Texas area.
Minis and Friends is a wonderful organization to be a part of. The miniature therpy horses are so amazing and brings so many smiles to many faces. We spend our family weekend bonding time volunteering with this special organization and it is well worth it. Deborah Davis (volunteer/Board Member)/Danielle (volunteer) and Zac (cleaning crew member)
Volunteering with Minis and Friends has been such a joy. It is hard to express the impact the little therapists have on those they work with without seeing it for yourself.
Minis and Friends is an amazing non-profit in its' 12th year in Austin, TX. Not only it is it unique with little horses jumping out of minivans when they go to a visit, but unique in the way our team of professional volunteers who work full-time get up and go out with us at 10:30 every Saturday morning we do a visit. We have comfortably settled in with 3 sets of mini-owners and 12 miniature horses to work in the greater Austin metro area. We have 25 or so excellent volunteers who we would trust to work with the minis and keep them safe. A visit could entail 25 residents all reaching out to pet the mini, that's a lot of hands! But the little horse therapists stand quietly and allow those that need the interaction to love on them and empower them to go an additional step - whether it's double lead, single lead, agility or standing patiently as they braid manes or do art therapy with finger paints. Pretty amazing! Standing patiently is a feat of its own! Check us out on Facebook or Twitter or our website: https://www.minisandfriends.org
Minis and Friends is in its 11th year! We have had so many magical moments with the little horse therapists. This is why we do as we do, almost every Saturday weather permitting. Recently, a mother came to us and shared her testimony and gave us permission to use it on social media. It is just beautiful and sad.
This is Heather Keiler-Green, and I am Phoenix’s mother. I spoke with your team on Saturday at Dell Children’s Hospital at the St. Baldrick’s Fair about the impact that your mini horses had on Phoenix.
Phoenix was diagnosed in January of 2016 at the age of 17 months with Stage 4 High-Risk Neuroblastoma. He spent 19 months in treatment (mostly at Dell Children’s), and fought courageously and joyously before passing away in August of 2017, just 6 days shy of his 3rd birthday. Phoenix was in the hospital at least one week out of every 3 weeks for scheduled treatment (chemotherapy and immunotherapy), and was often hospitalized in between those scheduled times for infections and other emergency treatment. Due to his treatment protocol, he was often too immunocompromised to attend events and have experiences outside of the hospital setting.
Because of this, and because of the fact that the majority of his short childhood was spent in the hospital, we are forever grateful for the special events that occurred at Dell Children’s. Two of those special events included visits from the Minis and Friends teams.
On one occasion, the mini horses came on a Saturday and were set up down in the healing garden. Phoenix’s favorite room was 419 which had a perfect view of the garden. We would spend hours looking out the window and talking about everything happening down below. On this particular day, Phoenix was set to discharge but it was taking a very long time due to a needed blood transfusion, and needing to get his port de-accessed. We waiting and watched the mini horses down in the garden, and Phoenix was so excited to get to go down and visit them. That would be his first time being around horses, and he was so excited. It took so long for his blood transfusion to finish, that we were sadly watching the horses get packed up and it seemed that we would miss the event.
The wonderful nursing staff on 4 North quickly helped Phoenix finish his transfusion and de-accessed his port and ushered us downstairs. You were all ready to leave, but when you saw Phoenix coming- all of the staff and horses stayed and let him pet the horses and enjoy his time with the sweet animals. Phoenix was so happy and talked about this for a long time.
I thank you so much for the wonderful experiences that you gave my sweet boy, and I truly hope that you will be able to continue bringing happiness to other children at Dell Children’s Hospital for years to come.
Thank you again, Heather - (Phoenix’s Mom)
PS- The 3rd photo is of Phoenix and his sister, Shiloh at 2017 St. Baldrick's Day.
I am a mini owner and volunteer. The minis bring a great deal of joy to everyone they surround. I believe, that in the presence of the tiny horses, people open up to their huge heart circle and are then firmly planted in the here and now.....which is joy!!!!
Your smile muscles will hurt for a week when you experience the magic!!!!
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.
I have been with Minis and Friends for nearly 7 years now. I am so proud to be a part of this organization! The minis have such an amazing effect on the people we visit, especially those with Alzheimer's. I look forward to many more years volunteering with the mini horses!
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.
My daughter Danielle and I have been with Minis &Friends for over 2 years now. What started out as a volunteering opportunity search has now become my volunteer passion. It is amazing how little miniature therapy horses can bring such joy to so many people throughout the community including myself. If you are looking for an organization that can help change your life and others in a positive way, then Minis and Friends would be that organization. The love that the mini owners shows their mini horses and their volunteer team is remarkable. Thanks Minis and Friends for all that you do.
The amazing things I have seen working with Minis and Friends in just the short amount of time I have volunteered with this group doesn't even touch the surface of what they can do. I believe one of the greatest gift one can give is the gift of time and this group of amazing people use their time to provide a wonderful services for those in need through equestrian therapy. I am truly blessed to be a part of this group. There are no words to describe the difference these folks and their minis make to the people we visit. My heart has never felt so much joy working with the people and the minis, what I see when the minis interact with the people is truly something special, you feel such kindness, beauty and love we so often miss in this world. The looks on the people and children’s faces, their emotions and their reactions is like nothing else anywhere, it’s truly a special and wonderful feeling for both myself and to see in the folks we help.
Minis and Friends has been an extraordinary non-profit to volunteer with. These horses bring such joy to children and other special populations through their gentle demeanor and warmth. And, they help the humans who work with them to more directly connect with the people we serve. Minis and Friends allows us to bring a very special kind of love to those in need, physically and emotionally, and everyone gains from the experience. My time with the horses and those who contribute their time, enriches my own life and all those who interact with us. It is something very special.
Suffering from my own auto-immune issues, and walking with the assistance of a cane, "My health had me at a crossroads of my identity in life, then I saw them, these incredible little creatures." It was a Minis and friends volunteer training session. In an instant, I had been transformed, forgetting about my pain, tossing the cane aside, and interjected myself , jogging with a mini, into the class. I was hooked and began my incredible journey volunteering with this organization. I, now along beside my husband, own four wonderful therapeutic miniature horses. I've witnessed, first hand, the amazing ability and social impact these horses have in our community and the health and wellness of all they encounter. The vast ability these horses have to diversify and transform their therapeutic interventions to specifically target exactly what one needs from them is remarkable and uncanning. This volunteer endeavor, has allowed my husband and I, to share our love of horses and people, and has extended our understanding of the animal to human connection and helped us develop a deep compassion for loving and serving others.
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.
My daughter and I have been volunteering with Minis and Friends for about 3 years. I'm so fortunate to have the opportunity to do something so meaningful with my daughter. The minis' owners are so kind and caring. No matter where we take the minis, it's such a delight to see the sparkle in people's eyes when they get to pet and hug the minis. This is a wonderful organization with awesome volunteers. I can't say enough great things about Minis and Friends!
My daughter and I have been volunteering with Minis and Friends since last June. It's a very heart-warming experience to see the smiles on the faces of all the people we have the privilege of visiting with the mini horses. Our visits mean as much to those we visit as they do to me and my daughter.
Love that this is even an opportunity that i found. The founders are kind hearted and fun to work with and the people who we visit truly appreciate and find joy in the work.
It’s always amusing when you tell one of the kids at Dell’s children’s hospital that the minis are full grown.
Thank you for letting me see the sparkling smiles of the young and the young at heart.
This organization is insanely beautiful in terms of how big of a difference their efforts make. Thank you for making it possible for me to be a part of such a lovely thing.
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.
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
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!
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.
It is amazing to get to see the smiles and happiness that these little horses bring to people. Minis and Friends has been great to volunteer with because there are clear expectations of what is required of me and everyone involved is always so welcoming.
Minis and Friends provides that ray of sunshine to people in need. They group is full of warm-hearted people.
Minis and Friends is celebrating its' 10th Year Anniversary! It continues to provide an excellent and well-respected reputation in the greater Austin metro area (Texas). We have added a set of new mini owners that will help us to reach back into North Austin and Williamson County soon. We have added new facilities and have had wonderful success recently with ATX Television Festival invitation, Austin Woman's magazine (online mid-July), Texas Reporter, KXAN, KVUE, Spectrum News and other businesses who recognize the importance of the work of the little horse therapists and our amazing volunteers. Minis and Friends is an ALL volunteer organization and 100% donation based.
Minis and Friends is in its 9th year and it only gets better and better! Recently we visited at a local Children Shelter for Abused and Neglected Children and had a break though with a little boy who was even afraid of the dogs that visited, he was just afraid of everything they said. With the gentle connection by our volunteers and Remington, he not only walked him but gave him a hug at the end of his time with him. This month (we go bi-monthly), he asked specifically for Remington and his volunteer Hilary and we were so very proud of him wanting to work again with Remington and going the extra mile to ask for him specifically. One step at a time, to open doors and bring hope and healing, and breakthroughs!
Love the minis. I see the smiles on the kids faces and the joy they exude during our visits. The minis attract attention wherever we go. They brought out a lot of on-lookers at the Child Abuse Awareness March. Who wanted to chat with us about what the minis were doing.
I run an organization that seeks out volunteers making big impacts on lives in Central Texas, and helps tell their stories. Minis and Friends was one of the most delightful encounters I've ever had in 3+ years of doing this - after hearing countless stories from volunteers as well as those they serve I now truly believe that these little minis really are magical!
I have been a Mini owner & volunteer for several years now. I do it because I love to, not because I have to. Over the years I have witnessed so much gratitude from the people we visit. You will never know unless you witness it for yourself. Having someone or a relative of someone thank you so much for what we do will put a tear in your eye at times. We are not a cure for anything. All we ask for and hope that people can give us is a smile. That's reward enough. God bless the people we visit because they are the one's that put smiles on our faces too.
I have been a volunteer Mini Owner for a few years now and have seem success over & over again with the children & adults that we visit. This is my success story:
I few years ago we were at a Children's Shelter where these children were taken away from their families due to some sort of abuse. While there I noticed a young little boy with his head down and no expression on his face. He was new to the Shelter and you could tell he was very sad. We asked him if he want to pet the little horses and with his head still down, he just shook his head- NO (We don't force any of our Mini's on anyone). The Councilors told us "Oh that is little ?????, we have tried everything with him. Nothing works.
A few minute later you could see this little boy standing next to one of the MIni's and we was petting him with the back of this hand.
Well a few minutes later again, this same little boy that the Councilors could not get through to, was jogging around the Courtyard with one of the Mini Horse. He was smiling and you could see happiness on his face once again
Right before my eyes I saw this little boy that was going through something no child should go through come out of his shell and be a child again. Smiling, laughing and playing.
That is why I do what I do.
I've been with Minis and Friends for over a year now and it's been a wonderful experience. Everyone is on a volunteer basis and you can just feel the passion for the minis and for each volunteer opportunity we get to go on. It's always great to see the smiling faces of children and the elderly a like when they get to pet the minis. Equine therapy really does help and I love being a part of this organization!
I've joined Minis and Friends back in August and they have been such a great organization to work with. You can just see and feel the passion that all the volunteers and staff have for the people they serve as well as the minis. It's been a true pleasure seeing the minis interact with each child and elderly and you can only beam back. I hope to see this non-profit continues to grow and serve Austin.
Minis and Friends was an absolute joy to work with! We have an annual Easter Egg Hunt for our friends, families and clients and their families, and we thought Minis and Friends would be a great addition and a wonderful way to promote the great work they do. And they were such a hit at the party! Sally, Julia and her team were so wonderful to work with, and of course the minis were so sweet and gentle. Minis and Friends do GREAT work and truly added a special memory to everyone they encountered. We look forward to working with them again and seeing all the greatness they contribute to the community!
I have been a master volunteer with Minis and Friends for over two years. I can't explain enough what these little horses do for the people that we visit, you just have to experience it yourself. The joy that we see in peoples eyes. Just for a few minutes, these minis bring whomever we are visiting back to the now. Some are reminiscing about when they had horses, others are forgetting about what they are going through. But they all are laughing, smiling, hugging and loving a mini. Not only do these minis do so much for the people we visit, but they do so much for me! They are also my therapy horses. I get so much out of them. That and so much more is what Minis and Friends is all about.
Being a volunteer with Minis and Friends has shown me how these extraordinary mini therapy horses impact the lives of so many people each visit we make. The physical, emotional and mental status of the people who come into contact with the minis always seem to get more positive the minute they see and touch these little ones. Not only do I get enormous satisfaction and enjoyment out of seeing these reactions, but I, myself get the same therapeutic benefits every time I'm around the horses. The people that are associated with Minis and Friends are just as important as the horses but most importantly, the mini owners!! Without the mini owners and their dedication, hard work, long hours and numerous other things they do with and for their minis, obviously this organization would not exist. I, for one am glad and blessed it does...
I have recently moved to Austin and was fortunate to find Minis and Friends on the Web. They have welcomed me into their families and allowed me time to play with the mini horses. I tell them every time, this is cheaper than therapy!! I really am proud to be a part of this organization that brings smiles, love and mini horses to hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes and many more places.
The Settlement Home for Children would like to thank Minis and Friends for continuing to come to our campus and sure the joy of their Minis with our children. Minis and Friends visits are always a wonderful and educational experience. Our girls love seeing them all dressed up, taking pictures with them, and brushing their hair. The Minis are truly magical, even if the child comes in with a frown on their face they can't help but leave with the biggest smile. The happiness the Minis and the volunteers share with our children helps them heal with joy!!
We are an assisted living senior home. There is no more excitement i can think of than the announcement that the mini horses are coming! ...to the point we almost have to stop announcing they are coming because it is overwhelming. Most of the time the horses dress up in costume/holiday attire for us too! Therapy dogs are great but a therapy horse you can get up close and face to face personal and have some big hugs and loving! We love and cherish every visit!!! We are thankful for EVERY visit we get from Minis and Friends. They are loving professionals!
Minis and Friends always goes above and beyond to show our families a good time! Minis and Friends visits us, Wonders & Worries, a non-profit as well that helps children cope when a parent is sick, during our family fun events. Most of our parents are diagnosed with cancer and/or other chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Minis & Friends has become a favorite part of our events. Some families want to know specifically if the Minis will be there! :) The children get to take a little photo memory home, and around Halloween the Minis will even dress up with cute little hats. It's adorable! I really believe the children are always so excited, because they get to walk the Mini and have a little control over them for a little bit (in a world where everything might be out of their control). And they are just soft and fun to pet! Everyone is always so great and friendly and we are really thankful for Minis & Friends!
Minis and Friends is an inspirational organization. I have long wanted to share the therapeutic effect of animals with others but needed a starting point. Minis and Friends and their all volunteer staff have provided and continue to provide the education and support to help me do this. They are always willing to share information, provide encouragement, and lend a helping hand.
During "boot camp" training we went to the Alzheimer's unit of an assisted living center. While there I witnessed the transformation of a patient whom we were told had been unresponsive to family, other volunteers and staff. The mini horse, Remington, made it clear to me, his handler, that he wanted to visit this lady. He put his face near her hand. She started petting and whispering to him. Minis and Friends facilitated a small miracle.
In my opinion, Minis and Friends embodies everything an excellent nonprofit should be.
Minis & Friends is a wonderful nonprofit organization with an amazing group of people and, of course, the precious mini horses. It touches many lives and I am extremely happy and proud to be a part of it. I pray God will continue to bless all involved in making this happen, and for all the lives touched by the minis ☺️ !!
I met Minis and Friends this past December when they came for a visit to my parents' home, per my request, as a very special Christmas present for my Dad who has Stage III lung cancer with mets to bone and brain. It was the best Christmas present - the joy those lil minis brought to my family, very special memories for all, especially my Dad !! I just fell in love with the minis and immediately wanted to be a part of such a wonderful organization, so I signed up to volunteer and have recently been going on visits with them as a volunteer. It is just wonderful to see the smiles on faces of those who really need it, very special. And the lil minis bring a big smile to my face as well. I am so happy, and proud, to be a part of Minis and Friends. !!
Love, love, love Minis and Friends! All the volunteers, minis and owners are selfless in their dedication to bringing smiles, happiness and a little bit of wonder to all of the places we visit. It never gets old. No matter how many times we visit. Giving back and making people happy is the greatest gift. Really.
I love this organization and the joy it brings to the lives of others. The mini horses have such an impact on those we visit. I love Minis and Friends!
I have been with Minis and Friends for over a year as a volunteer. It is such a great way to bring joy to the elderly and to young children.
Best nonprofit organization ever! I joined the group last year and we really like a big family. I love everyone in the group!
We are all volunteers in Minis and Friends and growing in leaps and bounds! We have added monthly visits to Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas weather permitting and have returned to quarterly visits at the Shelters for Abused and Neglected Children. We aim to add 2 more hospitals in Austin in 2015 and fingers are crossed to partner with the cancer facilities for adults and seniors. It brings joy not only to those we visit on Saturdays with the little horse therapists but also to all of us who attend the visits. Because of Minis and Friends I can honestly say I have met seniors over 102 who remember the minis by name and look forward to their visits, children and youth who need an extra smile and happiness and what is possibly better 'then walking a miniature horse!" .. Love this organization and all that it does for people of all ages with special needs in the greater Austin area - the miniature horses give willingly up themselves - unconditional love.
Minis and Friends has been great training others to deliver pet therapy service
I've been involved with Minis and Friends for almost two years and have found it to be an amazingly rewarding experience. There is nothing quite like seeing someone's face light up (whether child or adult) when they realize that the minis are coming to visit them. I'm very grateful I have the opportunity to work with these amazing animals and such an awesome group of people.
I've volunteered with Minis and Friends for a little over a year and have found it a wonderfully fulfilling experience. All people involved with the group are very dedicated to helping others and sharing the experience of being able to work with horses. I would strongly recommend this group for anyone looking for a fun way to give back to the community :)
I am only 3 weeks old in the system and I am absolutely in love with both the "Minis" and the "Friends" (read volunteers). I moved to Austin from New York and I was looking for some opportunities to volunteer when this one came around with a flag and a poster! I find the experience soul satisfying especially when spending time with the children and elderly. Loving on the minis is what I'm totally crazy about.. hey they're such angels! When I say the non-profit's heart is where their mouth is I mean it.. because these folks really care about what they do and that's what matters to me most. Look forward to years of serving the community heartfully through Minis and Friends. I love you guys!
For 12 years I have worked with full size horses and children with physical and mental handicaps. I loved my job and felt a special connection with the animals who helped not just children but persons of all ages who traveled to our facility. In December 2010 I moved my herd of horses to a beautiful facility in south east Austin where I had the most fortunate of luck in meeting founder and director Sally. I immediately fell in love with the minis, as does every one who meets them! My first exposure to the minis and the public came in the form of the United Way day of caring. The response to the minis by the 45 plus corporate employees brought tears to my eyes, you could feel these participants stress and anxiety lift! I was hooked!
I have now have worked with the group closely for a few years and its always just fantastic to be involved! The visits are handled with such care and professionalism, you can see that there is love and only love that goes into this fantastic opportunity in our local community. The most powerful and profound moments I've had include memories and tears shared by our Alzheimer's patients to having non verbal cases where families have never heard the voice of their child or grandparent. To make such powerful impact with persons and families is a blessing. I'm so blessed to be a witness to truly the most heartwarming and unique therapy available.
This organization is wonderful. Everyone in the organization helps because they truly just want to spread joy and make people happy. The miniature horses are the most adorable animals and the smiles they put on people's faces are unbelievable. I would recommend this organization to anyone who is looking for a good cause to donate to (ALL of the money goes towards taking care of the horses and allowing the organization to go out to local Austin places almost every weekend to spread some love) or to volunteer at. They have not only made a difference in some many Austinite's lives but also in mine.
This has been my first year working with Minis and Friends. The people involved with this organization are amazing. They are extremely dedicated to helping others and will do anything to make others happy. If you are passionate about animals and helping others this is the best organization to work with. The horses may be mini but they have huge hearts!
I went thru training last year and have been able to participate in several events since then. I never considered Equine Therapy as either a volunteer opportunity or therapy. I can tell you from firsthand experience that it's amazing how people respond to the minis. People who normally won't speak or move all of a sudden come alive when they see and can touch the minis. Even folks who may be suffering some type of dementia can tell you about their experiences when they were younger and had horses. This organization has been such a blessing to me, and I'm thrilled to be able to be a part of the way they touch lives. I would highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this wonderful organization and all of the mini owners (Sally, Gil, Sherry, Paul, Julia, Betty, as well as our Hays County friends). If you want to make a difference in your community, come volunteer with us.
As a mental health therapist I understand the power of animals in the healing of clients. When I had the opportunity to join Minis and Friends as a volunteer a couple of years ago I could not resist. Being a part of this group is so rewarding--- it truly is filled with a multitude of volunteers who have nothing but kindness and caring in their hearts. It takes very special people to give up each weekend to travel all over the area in order to give to others. And our minis--- who could resist falling in love with them :) Thank you Minis and Friends for spreading so many smiles to so many people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When I began volunteering with Minis and Friends I had no idea of the impact visits from the Minis would have on individuals. Each and everytime we visit a nursing home, hospital, or assisted living facility I see radiant smiles on the faces of all those who get to interact with these little animals. Often people will open up and begin a conversation about pets they've previously owned and you can see a light in their eyes that is so beautiful. I thank all the Mini owners who give so much of themselves to bring joy and happiness to others. It is a privilege to be a Minis and Friends volunteer - join us!!
I continue to enjoy working with Minis & Friends. As a co-founder, I have been with them since that first meeting around the kitchen table where we dreamed of a miniature horse organization just like the one we see now at Minis & Friends. I work mostly as a virtual volunteer from my home 2 hours away but look forward to those special times when I get to be with the minis and the people in person. Favorite times throughout the year include when we expand our extended family by hosting Boot Camps, teaching others from all around the US and Canada how to form their own non profit following our Equine Guided Interaction model. I also enjoy seeing our wonderful volunteers in action as they work with the minis where they can make a big difference in the lives of those they visit. Minis and Friends would not exist without their hard work.
Minis and Friends offers a wonderful equine experience. We started the group to bring the gentle caring touch of the minis into the lives of those in need. We visit varied groups within the Austin area, including children in hospitals, chidren's emergency shelters and those in special needs schools. I love watching fearful children with autism open up as the minis stand quietly by and the volunteers gently guide them to interact. Within the span of a few minutes, the fear has often faded and they tranform from leaning back on their teacher in fear, to wandering on their own from mini to mini, gently stroking their manes. A new addition of Mini vests on each mini with the M&F name and the name of the horse has been a great addition as well as a teaching tool for the teachers helping the children interact personally with the horse. By the end of the visit, the kids are calling each mini by name and interacting closely with them, using social skills they are practicing with their new mini equine friends. My personal favorites are visits at Memory Care centers. The minis make break-throughs to reach seniors at whatever level they can comprehend. Often, the senior will start talking about a favorite horse from their childhood as if it was the present day. I love listening to their stories and watching their faces open up as they talk. Minis and Friends is spreading our unique method of Equine Guided Interaction by training others who travel to Austin from as far away as Alaska and Canada to learn our methods and return home to start their own organization. This semi -annual Mini Bootcamp training offers hand-on training and instruction in very small groups to ensure personal attention. I look forward to watching Minis and Friends grow in the future!
I have volunteered with Minis and Friends since January, 2013, and have loved EVERY moment. We have visited some great places and you can see how much everyone enjoys seeing the minis...even the minis love the visits. They all have unique personalities that blend seamlessly with each other and the people, young and old, that they meet.
This non-profit has great leadership, all the volunteers are fun, caring and compassionate and the minis are well taken care of and happy. If you love horses and enjoy bringing joy and happiness to others, check us out and join the fun!!
I have volunteered with Minis and Friends for about 5 years now. This organization is by the best one that I have been with. Not only are the other people involved amazing, but the minis are too. Minis and Friends gave me more satisfaction when I first started than any other group did, and it still does to this very day!
I am a Minis and Friends Volunteer and Mini Handler. The people and minis that I work with are all amazing. I am glad to be able to work with these little horses and the other handlers. I feel accomplishment every time I finish an event with this wonderful group of people and horses.
Minis and Friends is a truly wonderful organization that brings joy to the community. Seeing the impact that the mini horses have on people is very heartwarming. I've been able to see first-hand the interaction between these sweet animals and the people who truly need some extra love (the elderly, foster children, etc.) - Every time I volunteer, it brings happy tears to my eyes! Also, it's a lot of fun! Keep it up, Minis and Friends.
I have been volunteering with my minis for 2 years. The work that Minis and Friends does is awesome.
My family and I love what we get to do with our little guys! Thank you Minis and Friends!
My name is Diane McBee and I attended the miniature horse equine assisted interaction training offered by Mini and Friends. As the director of a miniature horse therapy program, Knee High Mini Tours, I was impressed with the knowledge of the volunteers and the compassion displayed toward the clients. I was able to participate in many different types of training activities and gained first hand experience working with the miniature horses and clients. Safety was paramount, as was providing meaningful experiences. My experiences have shown Minis and Friends to be a caring organization committed to sharing the love of their miniature horses by reaching out to others and bringing joy into their lives.
Minis and Friends serves a wide variety of people in need. Their work with special needs children, ill children, senior citizens and child protective service is unsurpassed in the rewards that it makes you feel to be a part of. This non-profit is truly a heart warming experience.
Minis and Friends presents the true meaning of bringing joy to all. As a volunteer and a mini owner of this non-profit organization I have seen and experienced remarkable things happen to children and adults. These little horses and donkeys can make a sad child smile, a lonely weak senior adult come back to life and has personlly filled my heart with joy that is hard to describe.
Minis and Friends is a wonderful organization and it has been such a pleasure working with all of the miniature horses, their owners, other volunteers, and of course all of the people that we visit. It is such a joy to see how much happiness these little therapy horses bring to children and adults alike. I am so thankful that I found this organization and am able to be a part of bringing a smile to so many people. Athena Boukantar
Minis and Friends has been volunteering with The Settlement Home for Children for several years. They have brought their miniature horses to our campus on several occasions, and our girls have been given the opportunity to interact with them in a variety of ways. Our residents (and staff!) love when Minis and Friends come to visit because they enjoy getting to walk, pet and groom the animals. This year, our residents were invited to the first annual Mini March put on by Minis and Friends. Minis and Friends does a great job of meeting the needs of our residents and providing fun and educational programming.
It was amazing to watch our kids and adults become so involved with the horses and the sense of calm that it seemed to bring to them. I was especially impressed with how easily some of our more withdrawn kids became so engaged with the minis. The kids seemed so much more open and talkative both during and after the visit, must more at ease. They particularly loved being able to brush them and walk them, having the opportunity to really feel like they were caring for them. We can’t wait for our next visit and the continued presence of Minis and Friends within our program.
Minis and Friends has visited Marbridge numerous times. As the volunteer coordinator for this assisted living center, I am happy to say that they are not only friendly and professional when they visit, but they truly brighten the days of the residents who live here. We love them so much, we awarded them the Marbridge Volunteer Group of the Year award for 2011/2012.
I have seen many wonderful connections made between the minis and the people we visit. The little horses and donkeys inspire people to get out and try things when they feel they are not capable of being successful; they uplift people by offering their unconditional acceptance and hugs; they encourage people by giving them a chance to just enjoy the minis and to take a break from the emotional or physical pain they are experiencing. I remember one visit last year to a local children's shelter. One of the younger children was afraid to approach the minis, but with human encouragement and the silent reassurance of our gentle mini, the child ended up brushing and even hugging my miniature donkey.
I am the Austin co-founder who runs the general operations and also a horse owner of 3 minis - MasterCard, Remington and SeanMonet. I am a volunteer as all of us are in Minis and Friends. I am proud to say in 2012, we have accomplished so many goals and reached so many new children and adults to bring hope, healing and laughter with the work of the little horses. We have handed out so many of our Mini Readers made possible by the Baxter Grant in 2011 - what a delight it is to have the children come out for a visit with the minis bringing their books! We have added 10 new facilities since January and 5 new support events. We have also have had 2 Mini Boot Camps - one in March and the other in May - and have trained upcoming non-profits in Alaska (Knee High Mini Tours), Canada (Boo's Hooves), Kentucky (HeavenSent Half-Pints) and Massachusetts (Minis and Friends Massachusetts) to bring Equine Guided Interactions (EGI) to their soon-to-be non-profits. Minis and Friends is rich in volunteers and our family of friends in the facilities and support events we work with. I look forward to many more new and old visits for the remainder of 2012.
Minis and Friends was created in 2007 to extend the growing need of miniature horse "Equine Guided Interactions (EGI) " programs (therapy) in the greater Austin Metro area. We started the organization with 9 friends and miniature owners and worked primarily on weekends free of charge to most facilities and support events. We developed our program of EGI and teach it to others in other states and cities in our annual Mini Boot Camp, a hands-on 4-day extensive workshop in Austin, TX.
Our non-profit model is unique as the minis are not owned by the non-profit - but instead by mini owners or volunteers who become mini owners to bring indescribable smiles to all we meet. We train them and their little horses/donkeys to work with us in the communities.
We began the organization in early 2007 with 6 minis and 4 owners and today we have 17 minis and 8 owners. We reach deeper into other counties now to include Bastrop, Cedar Park, Dripping Springs, Round Rock and other towns along the way.
To this day, most visits are free and we use our form of creative fundraising to raise the much needed dollars for our Equine General Liability Insurance for every visit and event for all minis working and to keep us on the road!