Melrose Park hospital staff surprised with therapeutic mini-horses

It is no secret that healthcare workers have had a tough year and a half.

So on Thursday in the western suburbs, some healthcare workers had a chance for a unique therapy session — one involving American Miniature Horses.

Miniature therapy horses from the nonprofit Mane in Heaven galloped right into the hearts of kids and adults outside Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park.

"Just a nice little break from the hospital with everything going on and just kind of brightens the week," said Occupational Therapist Jessica Stuckman.

The hospital surprised the staff, knowing they deserve a break.

"This was wonderful. It was so therapeutic for us all working in the hospital and my endorphins are flying all over the place," said Nurse Rachael Wallace.


Dina Morgan is the president of Mane in Heaven. She says the horses are all trained for therapy.

"Because they have to be used to loud noises. When we go into hospitals, they wear special shoes, they have to ride elevators, so lots and lots of training. They're small in size, they're very friendly, they're very intuitive, they can really pick up on people's feelings," Morgan said.

And this year, they have sniffed out a lot of stress and sadness with the pandemic, leaving many needing a nuzzle.

After petting the horses, Rachael Wallace said 

"It's been hard and it's not stopping and it's just resurging and so it's nice to take a minute for ourselves and do something for ourselves," Wallace said after petting the horses.