Airline travel can be extremely stressful. Should you find yourself waiting for a delayed flight at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, you may be lucky enough to meet Denver and Ruby. The adorable pair of mini therapy horses are two of 34 mellow minis from Seven Oaks Farm helping to stomp out airport stress and better their community through several other volunteer programs.
Lisa Moad, the owner of Seven Oaks Farm, was inspired to found the non-profit organization when she witnessed people's responses to her horses at community events - especially the minis. Her website reads:
"Many people showed a natural curiosity about these special little animals. People wanted to be around them, pet them and many expressed how relaxing it was just to watch them."
As her vision grew, so did her team of horses and handlers. Today they visit nursing homes and hospices, work with local police and fire departments, promote safe schools and anti-bullying campaigns, comfort college kids during finals week - and of course, console frazzled travelers at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport!
Twice a month, two Seven Oaks minis prance into the bustling building, changing the atmosphere with their very presence. Wendi Orlando, the airport's senior manager of customer relations told MPR:
"It's just to ease anxiety levels, put smiles on faces. Clearly that's working. When you look at the passengers walking by, it just never gets old. They love seeing the horses."
One shy little boy found the courage to approach so his dad could take a photo. A little girl told her grandma she didn't want to board their flight - she'd rather stay with the horses. Even adults can't fight the power of the minis! Orlando says many passengers call in advance so they can book their trips to coincide with a visit from the Seven Oaks cuties!
The Cincinnati airport was initially considering bringing in therapy dogs before they discovered Seven Oaks Farm. More than 30 airports across the country now have therapy dog programs. San Jose, CA began their initiative after 9/11 and now boast 21 dogs and a therapy cat. At the San Francisco Airport there is even a therapy pig!
San Francisco International Airport gets their very own therapy pig.
It just goes to show that an animal's soothing presence is a far more effective stress reliever than any beverage offered at the airport bar!
Seven Oaks Farm believes in helping horses in return for the many ways they help us, therefore they rescue and train minis whenever possible. If you would like to make a donation to help them continue and expand their wonderful programs, you may do so here.
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H/T to MPR News
Featured Image via Seven Oaks Farm