Mini-horse charms patients, families and staff

UCLA Health’s People-Animal Connection welcomes special guest therapy animal
Blue Moon, the mini-horse, visits with the development staff at UCLA Health.

She lives in Malibu, has the biggest blue eyes and loves posing for selfies.

But this superstar is no Hollywood actress. Blue Moon is an attention-grabbing, 28-inch-tall miniature horse that is specially trained to bring comfort to patients and their families.

Blue Moon was recently a special guest of the People-Animal Connection, UCLA Health's canine animal-assisted therapy program. It was the first time in the program's 24-year history that any animal other than a dog has visited the hospital.

"We wanted to offer a different type of animal therapy experience," said Erin Rice, director of the People-Animal Connection program. "Just like our therapy dogs, mini-horses have the ability to help transport our patients and families away from a state of illness and anxiety to a place of feeling happy and engaged."

Blue Moon spent two hours at the outdoor pet visit station at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center posing for pictures with patients, family members and staff. She also gave high-fives and played her keyboard.

More than just a fun and cute animal, Blue Moon is a highly trained, registered mini-horse from a non-profit organization that provides equine-assisted activities and therapy.

"When we walk in with a mini-horse, everyone is so surprised!" said Patty Gaunt, a mini-horse volunteer. "They are truly magical animals."

Blue Moon can do high-fives.

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