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Mary Gallant’s M&M Lucky Hooves are welcomed visitors

Difference Engines
by Nina Linton

Mary Gallant introduces a visitor to one of her miniature horsesSometimes it is a glimmer in an eye, other times it is a wavering hand outstretched with purpose, but whatever the cues Mary Gallant knows she is making a positive difference in people’s lives. As founder of the Bloomfield-based non-profit organization, M & M Lucky Hooves, Gallant treks across the province with her miniature horses in tow, visiting institutionalised seniors, working with intellectually and physically challenged kids and adults as well as hospital bound patients.

Operating officially since 2009 under the watchword, “Where horses heal hearts,” Gallant has dedicated her days to brightening the lives of others through her four tiny equine, often boosting people’s spirits as well as their confidence with her Miniature Equine Guided Assisted Therapy program, which made 46 stops in her first six-month season.

“I hope to provide the very best therapeutic encounters that I can with these horses. They are small enough that people can interact with them and reach them, versus a big horse,” says Gallant whose miniature horses stand below 97 centimeters, a perfect size to access indoor locations while remaining face to face with people, encouraging even those with limited mobility to touch them.

Always having a love for horses, Gallant for many years had full size horses before switching to their pint sized counterparts in 2004 and she soon saw a big need in the Island community that her little horses could fill.

“I got a call from a recreational director from our local manor asking me if I would like to bring my horses for a visit and I said sure. I knew right there from the response that I had gotten from the seniors that this was something I wanted to do,” reveals Gallant. “There was one lady, and the horse just plunked her chin on her lap and there was no response out of her. We visited for a couple of minutes there and then I brought the horse over to somebody else and all of a sudden the case worker that was sitting beside the woman started hollering at me. ‘Mary, she hasn’t spoken in over a year’ and there she was talking. They knew she spoke about her husband because she mentioned his name but there was another name she was saying and they put two and two together that it must have been a horse she had way back.“

After witnessing this unbelievable instant, the powerful bond between an animal and human, Mary says she felt driven towards this type of work and certified in Miniature Equine Guided Assisted Therapy.

“I can’t explain it. I just see it happening. I have often had some seniors mention about their beautiful eyes, or the feel of their muzzle and breathe. I can’t describe it. The connection is just there. With seniors it is what they did have way back on the farm and for them to see that horse coming and actually touching that horse brings back a lot of good memories.”

Delighting in these special moments, Gallant most enjoys sharing her gentle horses with others for the reactions they garner, the smiles and the comments.

“There is always something at every visit, whether it be a story, or something that one of the horses does, or something the resident does, or just the benefit. There is always something and I could walk away from every visit with one or two stories. That is what keeps me going.”

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