After a long winter hiatus, our patients welcomed Petie the Pony and his handlers at Victory Gallop with open arms. Today, Petie was mobbed by kids when he arrived at the nursing station in our school-age inpatient unit, all hankering to get their hands on a horse with which they can see eye to eye.
Victory Gallop, a therapeutic riding program in Bath, Ohio, has been sharing Petie the Pony with the kids at Akron Children’s Hospital since 1997. To our knowledge, he’s the only horse that actually visits patients at their bedside. At 19 years old, Petie knows the hospital well and has given countless kids – and staff – in the hospital something to smile about.
As a media relations specialist at Akron Children’s, one of my jobs is to escort reporters and camera crews when they visit the hospital. Today, Fox 8 cameraman Chris Reece taped Petie as he traveled from patient room to patient room. Nothing gets the kids as excited as being able to put their hands on Petie and get their picture taken with this local celebrity. And nothing bothers Petie. I’ve seen a kid shove his entire fist up Petie’s nose, and this trusty steed didn’t even flinch.
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. 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.
Petie has to have a special bath and hair cut every time he comes to see the kids, which is why he isn’t able to visit during the cold winter months. They have to hitch the trailer, load him up and find a place to park in busy downtown Akron.
When you watch the whole process and the impact he has in this video, you’ll understand exactly how lucky we are to have volunteers like Sue Miller and Kimberly Gustely: