THEY say good things come in small packages and that was certainly true when miniature horse Maverick paid a neigh-bourly visit to aged care residents in ACT recently.
Measuring at just over 70cm tall this pint-sized pony compares more with a dog than a horse.
And though he may be tiny Maverick the 'therapy horse' drew a big crowd when he popped in to see residents at Uniting Mirinjani Aged Care home in Weston.
The facility's leisure and lifestyle manager Jo Sumner arranged for him to visit.
"It was a relative's wife who told me she'd heard about him," said Ms Sumner. "Immediately I thought, how can I get him here? The residents will love him."
Jo understood the importance of therapy animals as the home had previously had a pet dog, which had made even the quietest of residents come out of their shell.
She said boredom is one of the biggest challenges in the aged care sector and that Uniting works hard to offer new and exciting experiences to its residents.
"I researched on the internet until I tracked him down and luckily his owners were thrilled to come along," says Jo.
"Obviously I'd love to take our residents out into the community for events but it is not always that simply, due to poor health and mobility restrictions. Instead I've started bringing the excitement here."
Wanting to keep things a surprise for the residents, Jo only told them they were having a surprise visitor.
"Their faces were a picture when I walked in with a miniature horse," she said. "Many of them grew up in rural properties so they had horses when they were younger. They don't have the opportunity to be around horses much anymore so it was an incredible memorable moment for them."
Many of the residents fell in love with Maverick's tiny shoes. Unable to find any horse shoes small enough for him to wear, his owner had bought teddy bear shoes instead.
Maverick was unfazed as he was led around from person to person as the residents gave him cuddles and kisses. One lady even sang to him.
"Residents who often spent their days asleep or in their rooms came out to join in the fun. Many started talking about rural life or pets from years ago. Everyone had a smile on their faces," said Jo.