“Hello! I bring you the young lady in good shape, more than ever!” The young lady is Sioux, 16 years old but 450 kilos anyway. The female pony goes up the stairs to the first floor of the Providence nursing home in Angoulême (Charente).
Once in the dining room, Sioux, held by his squire Marie, walks towards the residents gathered in a circle on their chairs or walkers. “Hello, hello! See how cute! How sweet, huh?”, says a resident, cuddling the mare. “I know she likes me because last year I gave her little apple pieces and gave her big kisses”, confides another resident, before whispering to the animal: “Come and let me give you a little kiss! A little kiss!”
The animal comes to visit once a month. A long-awaited moment, explains Cécile, the hostess of the nursing home. She was the one who had the idea of bringing in the mare. “We are in touch, it’s something we tend to forget, she explains. These are residents who, apart from care, have had fewer visits, have not been able to reach their families. Everyone finds their place there, people who cannot speak, people who can express themselves … Everyone can communicate with the animal. “
“There is a blessing because the faces relax, the residents are more stimulated, are calm.”Cécile, nursing home facilitator
Meanwhile, Sioux continues his tour. Caresses, kisses, compliments … And tongues that loosen. “I was riding a horse, confides a cheerful lady, I was the director of summer camps, we brought up children. “ There is also this gentleman who says that his father was a farrier. “I rode a horse, he recalls, the opportunity presented itself almost every day when I was about fifteen. “
Sioux opens the box of memories. And working on memory is very important in an Ehpad. “It brings it all back up, says Lucie, the institution’s psychologist. ‘I had a farm,’ this, that. Sometimes, we have little access, we enter the rooms, these are people who are completely closed, and there we see that they open, they tell us life stories … When families come, that interests the grandchildren. They feel valued through this animation, that’s for sure. “
Marie and her pony leave after an hour and a half. Sioux is increasingly in demand in recent months: it is already expected in six nursing homes around Angoulême and Poitiers.
In Charente, the benefits of equitherapy for nursing home residents – Report by Alain Gastal