Blackpool Victoria Hospital welcomes an off the hoof visitor


Dr Emma Jackson, Dr Jason Cupitt and Katy Smith with Digby

Blackpool Victoria Hospital welcomed a special visitor who put the ‘whinny’ into Whinney Heys Road.

One year-old American miniature horse, Digby, is the first guide horse in the UK and is one of a small number of therapy horses across the country. He dropped in for a special visit to be ‘neigh’bourly to staff and patients.

Two foot tall Digby was accompanied by Katy Smith, owner of KL Pony Therapy in Northallerton, who has 30 years of experience working with horses.

She said: “Our ponies are trained to be social and they create lovely memories for the patients they meet, particularly if they are feeling fed up.

“The miniature horses can live up to 50 years, which makes them ideal as guide horses for the blind and partially sighted. They enjoy doing visits and love to meet people.”

Digby’s visit was arranged by doctor and horse rider, Emma Jackson. She said: “I had heard of the ponies visiting hospitals and care homes and thought it would be a great idea for the horses to visit our Critical Care Unit among others.”

Digby proved a real hit with patients as does the therapy dog, Dandy, who visits the Critical Care Unit every week.

Critical Care Consultant, Dr Jason Cupitt, paid for Digby’s visit himself because of the healing qualities that animals can bring to patients.

He said: “We know that animals have been proven to aid psychological wellbeing as we have seen with the regular therapy dog visits.

“Sometimes a visit from an animal is just what a patient needs to get well again. And who can’t relate to a lovely animal like a dog or a horse?”

Digby’s colleague, Mr P, a yearling, also visited the Unit then went on to visit the Children’s Ward for a little horseplay.


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