Petie The Pony Cheers Up Kids In Hospitals

Meet the sweet pony who makes the rounds at Akron children’s hospitals.

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Petie and Sue Miller visit with 3-year-old Lauren who helps the pony make the rounds. Via akronchildrens/Instagram
Anastasia Thrift

Petie the pony joined a barn full of therapy horses several years ago and might have fallen in with the ranks without exception, meeting folks who visit and staying put. But his owners noticed something special about him.

“He was calm and patient and everything we challenged him with, he kind of accepted,” Petie’s owner Sue Miller told recently.

Now the Ohio pony visits kids at Akron Children’s Hospital and Rainbow Babies & Children Hospital in Cleveland, clip-clopping through the hallways and brightening many days as a therapy animal.

“A visit from Petie is kind of fun and something they weren’t expecting,” Miller told the news outlet about his visits with kids. “It just takes away why they are there.”

Gray-haired and blond-maned Petie stands about 3 feet tall and weighs 380 pounds. He is a cross between a miniature horse and a Shetland pony, and he turned 25 this past October.

Miller and her husband, Dave, own Victory Gallop, a horse therapy barn. They adopted Petie more than 18 years ago from a family who used the pony to help foster children. That’s when they saw Petie exhibit his calm and patient traits.

Petie began visiting schools and nursing homes, then Miller considered bringing Petie to children’s hospitals. Hospital staff hesitated at first but then gave Petie a shot in an adjacent building. Gradually, he earned entrance to the main hospital and toured its halls.

“We are blessed to have so many people in this community willing to go out of their way to help hospitalized kids forget about their troubles,” Laurie Schueler, media relations specialist at Akron Children’s Hospital, wrote in a blog. “But I always come back to the good people at Victory Gallop and the effort they put forth to share their amazing animal with us.”

Looking at the faces on kids who see Petie, even while they’re in the middle of very tough times, shows what an impact the sound of a hoofbeat and pat of a soft cheek can do.

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