A New Way to Ease Pre-Flight Anxiety: Play With a Mini Horse

May 17, 2017

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Feeling anxious before a flight is common. Getting to play with a miniature horse in order to ease that anxiety is not. But thanks to a few of the adorable residents of Hamilton, Ohio’s Seven Oaks Farm, travelers making their way through Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) can spend some time bonding with these teensy-weensy equines.

While therapy animals have become a common sight at airports around the world — more than two dozen US airports employ therapy dogs, while San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has a therapy pig — mini horses are a new idea. Originally the CVG powers-that-be had planned on bringing in a team of therapy pooches to greet travelers are they arrived at the airport, until they learned about Lisa Moad’s Seven Oaks Farm and its pack of mini horses. Twice a month, Moad’s team brings a few of its residents to the airport, where they mix and mingle with arriving passengers.

Giddy-up! Image courtesy of Seven Oaks Farm via Facebook.
Giddy-up! Image courtesy of Seven Oaks Farm via Facebook.

Moad told NPR that the horses have a unique way of easing travelers’ pre-flight tension. People have told her that interacting with the horses “made them feel much better, kind of calmed [them] down, took a deep breath. A lot of them thank us for being there at that time because they needed that little bit of support before they get on the plane.”

According to NPR, each of the on-duty horses has hundreds of hours of airport training, so that nothing about the normal buzz of an airport — rolling suitcases, hurried passengers, overhead announcements — rattles them. And the horses themselves love the attention, whether it’s a quick pet or an epic selfie.

“It’s just to ease anxiety levels [and] put smiles on faces,” airport official Wendi Orlando told NPR. “Clearly that’s working. When you look at the passengers walking by, it just never gets old. They love seeing the horses.” Who wouldn’t? Check out the video below for a closer look.


Featured image courtesy of Seven Oaks Farm.

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