A miniature horse named Hope makes rounds and brings smiles to patients at children's medical center

A mini-horse named Hope visits children at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Roseville, Calif. (Photo: Marlei MartinezVerified account via Twitter)

On Tuesday afternoon, children at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center in Roseville, Calif., were visited by a special guest performing her rounds. Hope, an emotional therapy miniature horse, cheered up the patients and their families as she stomped her way through the hospital.

According to Sacramento’s KCRA, at least a dozen children, all with different conditions, got to meet the helpful horse.

Michael, a 2-year-old who suffers from a blood cell disease, was so taken by the little horse that he didn’t even mind his IV infusion. “He loves animals. So to see that, he’s just super-excited,” Katrina Martinez, his mother, told KCRA. “He hasn’t looked at his IV infusion — not once. Before the horse came, he was trying to pull at it.”

This is the first month that the hospital has included a miniature horse in its animal therapy program, which typically hosts cats and dogs, but this isn’t 5-year-old Hope’s first rodeo.

Hope made her debut in 2014 as a member of Paws on Call when she visited Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. With the help of her owner, Lisa Schaeffer, Hope conquered her fear of elevators, learned how to walk with a harness, became well mannered in social situations, and even became housebroken, as “expressing” yourself in the middle of a hospital hallway is typically frowned upon.

Schaeffer has trained horses for 35 years and, with her husband, Ken, initially adopted Hope so she could become a therapy horse. “This is what we were called to do,” Schaeffer told the Sacramento Bee. “I can’t even begin to explain how wonderful it is. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

Follow more of Hope’s adventures on her Facebook page, Sharing the Hope.

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