Racetrack champion brings joy to residents

An equine visitor drops by a HammondCare aged care home to celebrate Horses Birthday.

An equine visitor has dropped by a HammondCare aged care home this week to celebrate Horses Birthday.

Residents at Strathearn House – located in Scone, a country town in the Upper Hunter Shire of New South Wales – were delighted on Wednesday to interact with retired racehorse Osborne Bulls, otherwise known as Ozzie.

As part of the celebrations – which are held each year on 1 August to mark the standardised birthday for every horse in the southern hemisphere – the humans enjoyed sponge cake while Ozzie munched on carrots.

The visit – which is anticipated to become a regular event at Strathearn House – was arranged through the Godolphin Lifetime Care program, which rehomes retired racehorses.

Ozzie hung up his horse shoes in 2020 after an impressive record in top-level racing. During his career, Ozzie won nine races accumulating almost $3 million in prize money.

Strathearn House residential manager Caitlyn Easey said she was grateful to Godolphin for organising the visit to the site. A visit the residents – many of whom are living with dementia – appreciated. “This was a very special occasion for residents, and brought them much delight,” said Ms Easey.

Ozzie’s custodian Lori McKern said the residents’ reactions were lovely to see. “The joy on their faces was beautiful,” she said. “It brought a tear to my eye.”

Resident Helen Vincent with Ozzie

Research shows significant health benefits for people living with dementia from animal engagement, said Associate Professor Steve Macfarlane – head of clinical services at HammondCare’s Dementia Centre.

Benefits include improvements in quality of life through decreased loneliness and depression, an increase in physical activity and improved socialisation.

And the health benefits of Ozzie’s visit were clear to see by the residents’ expressions said Associate Professor Macfarlane.

“Perhaps the best way to evaluate whether this kind of equine therapy works is to look on the faces of the residents – it clearly does.”

Main image L to R: Ozzie, Lori McKern, resident Helen Vincent, and Caitlyn Easey

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Tags: animal therapy, Caitlyn Easey, hammondcare, Professor Steeve Macfarlane, Strathearn House,

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