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      Tiny horses bring big dose of healing

      At some point, every little kid wants a pony.

      But the mini-horses from Trinity Ridge farm in Loraine, Ill. are more than just a cute face. Major and Little Man are therapy horses who boost spirits at first sight.

      "Some people it brings back memories of when they were children," Becky Prunty said. "A lot of people had ponies when they were kids. Some of the farmers here may have farmed with horses and I think a lot of time it just brings back happy memories."

      Prunty and her sister Deb Hautz own the 22-acre Trinity Ridge Farm in Loraine. They started the Mini Miracles Therapy Program in 2009, a program inspired by their mother.

      "The elderly are very close to my heart because of my mother. I took care of her for a long time," Hautz said.

      Prunty says therapy horses are a great way to provide therapy to all different types of individuals. It's a chance for a person to forget the difficulties they face.

      "Sensory-wise, some people find it therapeutic just touching a horse and the fact that they make us all laugh. So there's definitely a laughter factor in their therapy," Prunty said.

      "Just seeing the joy that they bring others," Hautz said. "I think it was when my mother was still alive that we actually took a mini-horse in because she couldn't come out."

      The sisters take Major and Little Man on road trips to nursing homes, special needs homes and classrooms.

      Missy Renier is the activities director at Sycamore Healthcare in Quincy. She says the horses work magic with her residents.

      "A lot of emotions," Renier said. "We go from crying ... to happy. It's something in their past brought back and they'll talk about it for days and months."

      The residents agree.

      "Oh, they just give me a warm feeling," Ruth Buswell, a resident at Sycamore Healthcare said. "They make me smile."

      Prunty and Hautz don't have a fee for their visits, but rather ask for a donation when you experience their mini miracles.

      Story by KHQA reporter Katherine Tellez.