It’s been a busy few weeks for Bella, Rosie and Carly.
The girls have been in high demand all summer from care homes, hospitals and nurseries, who are all keen to have the trio pay a visit.
But Bella and the gang aren’t your usual entertainers sent in to cheer up those who might need a laugh.
They are “therapy” ponies – part of a new wave of animal healers who bring joy to people suffering social and emotional stress in Dundee.
Along with their handlers Jenna Gill and Rebecca Tait, the miniature Shetlands have been visiting people throughout the city for the past few weeks.
Jenna, 31, from Douglas, set up R&J Thera-Pony at the end of July. She said: “There are a host of benefits that come from working with the ponies, both physical and emotional.
“Equine therapy lowers stress levels and combats the overwhelming feeling of anxiety and tension. We have been offering equine-assisted therapy visits to residential homes, nurseries, hospitals and workplaces.
“We have seen our service users build their self-esteem and confidence by forming a bond with the ponies.
“The size of the ponies means they are much less intimidating and more approachable to children and the elderly or those in wheelchairs.
“Our ponies are specially trained and have everlasting patience which appeals to those who struggle with social interaction.
“For children and adults suffering social and emotional issues, working with the ponies builds confidence which they can then translate into real life skills.”
Jenna said that although the company does not offer rides on the ponies, there are plenty of physical benefits in simply stroking the animals.
She said: “Children with poor motor skills can work on their muscles and improve cognitive skills and general fitness by grooming and working with the ponies.
“We offer our services to anyone who thinks they would benefit from equine therapy, including children and young people as well as the disabled and elderly.”
Rebecca said that 11-year-old Bella had worked as a therapy pony before.
“She has impeccable manners and knows exactly how to make people smile,” she said.
“Rosie is three and will stand all day for cuddles and kisses and Carly at one is youngest of the group and is learning from the others.
“No matter what mood people are in Carly makes them laugh.”
Rebecca added: “When our ponies visit they can enter buildings, travel up to the top floors in the lift and even visit patients in their rooms.
“They wear special shoes so they won’t mess floors – and we have the other end covered with special bags attached to catch any unexpected surprises.”