Fiona’s little pony brings so much joy

Little May the therapy pony at Askham House Care Home'Keith Stearn 60
Little May the therapy pony at Askham House Care Home'Keith Stearn 60

Faces light up as little hooves gently clip-clop over the ground and eager hands reach out to touch the pony’s soft coat.

But this is no farm or petting zoo, this is a care home and Little May is a therapy pony.

Little May the therapy pony at Askham House Care Home'Lizzie Chilvers

Little May the therapy pony at Askham House Care Home'Lizzie Chilvers

While Askham House Care Home in Doddington might seem an odd place to find a pony, there is no denying the effect the animal has on the residents.

They are filled with wonderment as the miniature Shetland pony, the size of a large dog, stands patiently and allows complete strangers to stroke her and run their fingers through her mane.

For owner Fiona Davidson, who lives in Benwick, seeing two-year-old Little May bring such joy to people is the realisation of a lifelong dream.

“I am training up my little Falabella pony but he will take another year,” Fiona said. “Then Little May’s previous owner gifted her to me as she knew I wanted to do therapy.

“It’s been wonderful. Her first visit was to a home in Old Hurst, which is mostly autistic people.

“There was one man who they said stayed in his chair, but he got straight up and came over. He wouldn’t leave her side. It brought a tear to my eye.”

Little May spent more than an hour in the Doddington care home, visiting both elderly and disabled residents.

Keith Stearn (60) was delighted to see the pony and was lucky enough to spend several minutes with her.

“She is just lovely,” he said. “Everyone’s been looking forward to her coming and everyone wants to see her.”

Fellow resident Les Clarke (65) used to work with Shire horses and although Little May is considerably smaller, he was keen to come and make a fuss of her.

He said: “I was sat in my room and saw her come past the window. The TV went off, I got in my wheelchair and came straight down.

“It is really nice and I’m looking forward to seeing her regularly.”

Sally-Jane Williams, head of nursing and general manager at Askham House, is very pleased with the response to Little May.

“It’s been really good. You can see the impact it has had on our residents. It’s brilliant.”

Unfortunately Little May cannot be an official PAT (Pets as Therapy) animal as the national charity only has cats and dogs.

A charity spokesperson said they are approached regularly by people wanting to offer their animals as therapy pets, including rabbits and reptiles, but they do not have the facilities to accommodate this at the moment.

But Fiona is finding that word is spreading about Little May through her Facebook page – Little Legs Pony Therapy. She has also been helped by Skylark Garden Centre in Wimblington, who have sponsored her.

She does not charge for her visits and also offers free visits to children and adults with special needs or those who cannot leave their homes, in the March and Chatteris area.

l For more information on Little May, visit her Facebook page.