Mini Therapy Horses
We are proud to nominate Pearl for the 2022 Platinum Performance Horse Welfare Award! Pearl was our very first mini therapy horse here at MTH and for the last 14 years she has been an steadfast part of our team and a true leader of all of our minis.
When we got Pearl in 2008 and I decided we would be a therapy team, I knew it would be an exciting challenge. I had trained horses all my life, but this was my first time working with a miniature horse and focusing on EAT/EAA-related training. We were both new to each other and new to the therapy world. From the get-go, Pearl was so eager to learn and took to it right away. She picked up on commands and visual cues immediately. With each training session, we became more and more in-sync and developed a deep understanding of each other and what we needed to be a successful team. I was so impressed with how quickly this young horse was learning, but more importantly, with how she was so loving and gentle in spirit.
When I felt we were both ready to get out there and begin doing therapy visits, I thought there was no better place to start than with our veterans. What a privilege it would be to serve those who have served us. Our first ever therapy visit was at the VA Hospital of Greater Los Angeles. Pearl was a natural. It was like she’d be doing this her whole life. The patients and staff were absolutely blown away. They had had dogs in the facility before, but a horse? And she’s potty trained too? People couldn’t believe it.
It was so beautiful to watch how time with Pearl transformed people. Some of the patients there, like many in our military, have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and/or suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. It is a very delicate environment and making sure the patients feel safe is of the utmost importance. It is almost as if Pearl knew this. She was calm, gentle, kind, focused and seemed to really understand she was there to heal. Sometimes patients would be really engaged and eager to interact, so we would teach them some of our visual cues for Pearl and then have them help us tell Pearl to do a trick like “up,” where she rears, or “smile.” As fun as they are to see, the tricks are really aides to help the patients feel connected to Pearl. They also help people feel accomplished and in control, feelings they may have not felt in a very long time. In other instances, sometimes patients just wanted to sit quietly and run their hand through her mane and down her back. Whatever the patient needed in that moment, somehow Pearl knew and was able to provide it. Watching people transform, even after just a few minutes with her, was like watching a miracle happen.
Pearl and I have now been making weekly visits to the VA Hospital for 14 years and it remains the longest-running outreach in the Mini Therapy Horses program. Whether we are visiting the Intensive Care Unit, the psychiatric ward or hospice wing, the patients know they can depend on Pearl to bring a weekly dose of joy and comfort into their lives. In 2013, we were honored with the “Volunteers of the Year Award” for the entire VA Healthcare System. And Pearl’s accomplishments don’t end there. She is part of the LA Mayor’s Crisis Response team, has participated in the world-famous Rose Parade® five times, has been featured in numerous magazines, won various awards and even appeared on the Kelly Clarkson show! She is, without a doubt, the head of the herd here at MTH. She loves playing the keyboard, doing tricks and being an all-around superstar. Not only that, but she has cemented herself as such a leader and served as an amazing example for the younger minis. Whatever the situation, whether it’s out on a therapy visit or at home in the barn, they know they can look to her to lead and we know we can always count on her to be a steady, reliable presence within the team.
As we are already big believers in and regular users of the Platinum Performance product line, we know first-hand what a vital role diet and nutrition play in our program. There is no doubt Pearl, and all of our minis, would not be able to do what they do without the health benefits provided by their daily intake of Platinum Performance Equine and Platinum Performance Balance. We are extremely proud that both Pearl and Platinum Performance are part of the MTH family. Thank you for your consideration.
Relationship of Nominator to Nominee
I am the owner of Pearl and the President/Executive Director of Mini Therapy Horses, an EAT/EEA non-profit in Los Angeles. -- Victoria Nodiff-Netanel