Using the Power of Horses to Spark Joy at Local Senior Living Facility
By London H. ’23
Last Monday, my mom and I were muddling through our daily COVID-19 routine, trying to occupy our hours with school, work, exercise, and family time. As my mom took a break and started scrolling through Instagram, she saw a post from the United States Equestrian Federation about horses visiting nursing homes. The pictures of the residents looking through windows at the horses were truly heart-warming. Touched by those photos and remembering Foxcroft’s recent Day of Service, my mom and I knew what to do. We were inspired and set out to replicate the wonderful act of service with two of our horses, Silver and Charlie.
After a quick call to our local nursing home and an immediate, “Yes! We would love for you to come!” from the CEO in response, we made plans to go when the weather cleared up. Two days later we went to the barn, groomed our horses to show-ready status, and trailered them to Fahrney-Keedy Home & Village. We weren’t sure what to expect or how the horses would react to their unusual surroundings, but we would soon know that it would be a truly touching and rewarding experience.
First, my mom and I each took a horse up to the main windows on the front of the building. The horses were completely calm as if they understood that they had an important job to do. Silver and Charlie carefully peered through the glass, mirrored by a group of ten to fifteen elderly people staring back at them in awe. The residents were able to “pet” them through the glass, blew kisses to them, and had smiles from ear to ear the whole visit. I was amazed at how such a seemingly simple act of kindness lifted their spirits. It was as if their pain and sadness from isolation seemed to melt away the second the horses touched their nose to the window.
Next, the horses entertained the kids of workers who were in the emergency daycare program and had also been inside all day. The children took pictures of the horses and asked many questions. Lastly, the horses stood in front of a group of residents in wheelchairs, who got to ask questions about the horses, including their color, age, and temperament.
The happiness showed by the first group of residents at the window spread wherever the horses went, creating a rewarding experience for me, my mom, the residents, workers, and everyone involved. I am inspired to do more service and help the community in any way I can. I think Charlie and Silver feel the same way!
An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.