I take tiny ponies to nursing homes – the residents love it and it brings them joy’

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Peaches, Pumpkin and Charlie the Shetland ponies bring smiles to everyone they meet, writes their owner Dianne Dowell

When I first started My Little Pony Parties with my pets Peaches and Pumpkin in July 2020, I was mainly planning to do children’s parties and visits to schools and nurseries.

I wasn’t expecting to do as many care home visits as I have, but it’s something a bit different and even if we go back into lockdown, the carers can bring the patients to the door or they can see the ponies through the window.

The reaction on people’s faces is priceless and makes all the hard work worthwhile. It’s very rewarding. They light up when they see the pony standing in front of them, even better when they see Peaches standing at the side of their beds.

This means a lot to me and the ponies really love the attention.

The ponies have all got their own little ways. Peaches is a little bit cheeky. If you tickle her tummy, she does a little smile. Pumpkin will say please by pawing the ground with her foot if she wants more carrots. We got Charlie more recently and we’re waiting to see what his little thing is.

Peaches was as good as gold when she played the donkey for the nativity play at a local school recently. The children were giving her strokes, cuddles and carrots and she took it all in her stride. All three of them are really good little ponies. They’ll stand for ages for people to stroke them or take them for a walk. The children at the nurseries love putting hair clips in the ponies’ manes and grooming them. We even visited a nursery and did a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day.

The children get really excited when we turn up, whereas for the elderly, it makes them feel young again for a little while. One lady I visited recently doesn’t have any family. When she saw the pony, she said it had made her Christmas. It was the best present she’d ever had. She got to be the centre of attention for a little while.

Over Christmas, the ponies got dressed up with reindeer antlers and festive rugs for visits and Peaches also does unicorn parties. Next year we’ll have superhero parties, if we can find someone to make costumes!

I’m hoping 2022 will be a better year where the care homes can have their visits outside and relatives can come along and enjoy seeing their family members smile when they see the ponies.

I’m also looking forward to doing our first weddings, with the Shetlands taking the rings down the aisle, as long as we have permission from the church.

It’s sure to put a smile on people’s faces on their special day, just like our visits to the care homes and schools do.