A therapy pony regularly provides positive, emotional moments in a retirement home in Salzburg. The idea for the animal visits arose after a nasty experience.
“Do we have a meeting today?” asks a resident of the Schloss Kahlsperg retirement home in Oberalm, Salzburg. It is indeed a special afternoon. Jolly Jumper is back again. A 17-year-old therapy pony is cared for by Selina Scheichl. A few years ago, the psychologist actually wanted to turn his back on equestrian sports.
Her own horse died at the time as a result of a riding accident and she herself was injured. After that she wanted nothing more to do with her hobby. Friends encouraged her to reconsider and eventually asked her to take care of the white pony. “I saw a documentary on TV about horses in retirement homes in France. That’s when I came up with the idea of offering something similar here,” says the Salzburg resident. Studies from Germany and France would show how positive these encounters are, not only for older people.
After completing his training, “Jolly Jumper” turned out to be ideal for the new, important task. He is resistant to stress in all situations. Scheichl then inquired at various retirement homes in their area and received great interest. This is how the now regular visits to Schloss Kahlsperg came about.
When the white gelding is there, it evokes emotions among the residents. “It’s a good, warming and nice feeling,” says resident Inge S., who sits at the regular table “Strickliesln”, where older ladies interrupt their knitting for the visit. He’s so sweet, the “Jolly Jumper”. “And his hair is so beautiful again,” notes the pensioner. Another lady is sitting at the table and tells us that she used to have dogs and that one never gets bored with animals. Meanwhile, another is brushing the pony, who clearly enjoys it.
A former pro rider who can no longer speak after a stroke had tears in his eyes because he could touch a horse again, says Sabrina Scheichl. An 80-year-old lady, on the other hand, was very happy to be able to touch one for the first time in her old age. And “Jolly Jumper” also evokes long-lost memories in many residents. “These are really beautiful moments,” says the director of the residence, Kerstin Tautz.
The further plans
Jolly Jumper is currently learning how to ride the elevator. To then be able to visit the bed station. “It’s a great gift to me that something positive has come out of a negative situation like my accident,” says Selina Scheichl happily. With her idea she has now become an independent entrepreneur and founded PFERDE STÄRKEN, where she offers horse encounters in addition to horse coaching.
I am Wallace Jones, an experienced journalist. I specialize in writing for the world section of Today Times Live. With over a decade of experience, I have developed an eye for detail when it comes to reporting on local and global stories. My passion lies in uncovering the truth through my investigative skills and creating thought-provoking content that resonates with readers worldwide.