Tender Little Hearts and big smiles
Tender Little Hearts Mini Tales and Equine Assisted Services is a Valley organization working in the community promoting literacy with the help of miniature horses and donkeys.
We welcomed Terry Holmes-Stecyk, Founder and President of Tender Little Hearts, and Cindy Gibson, a longtime member.
We also welcomed “Mazy,” a beautiful, 16-year-old miniature therapy horse.
Qualified therapy equines and handler volunteers transport the miniature horses and donkeys around the Valley. Since they are mobile and use miniature equines, they can bring these therapy animals to individuals who could not otherwise travel to a location.
Equines are required to pass a skills and aptitude evaluation every two years to remain qualified as a therapy animal. Volunteer handlers are trained to demonstrate best practices in handling, receiving yearly updated training and refreshments of their handler methods.
There is no charge or fees, allowing underserved, low-income and homeless populations and lower socio-economic care centers to be served.
Mazy, short for Maserati, is a gentle, loving animal that makes a unique connection to those most in need of comfort or nurturing. He had an early career as a show horse and was an International Reserve Champion in the color division. Mazy now excels as a therapy horse with his sweet, calm nature.
“Our mission is to improve literacy, to promote positive life choices, and to encourage personal development, particularly with children,” Holmes-Stecyk said.
Tender Little Hearts also works with seniors and veterans at nursing and occupational therapy facilities.
“When we bring our animals to a hospital or a school, they light up! They can’t believe that a horse is here,” Gibson said.
For more information, visit the Tender Little Hearts website.