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.