2 February 2024

Meet the miniature pony with dwarfism making a big impression

| Sally Hopman
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Woman cuddling pony

Winx the miniature pony accepts cuddles from a nursing home resident during a recent visit. Photo: Supplied.

Haley Snape knew there was something special about her pony.

Not only was she miniature, she also had dwarfism which meant she was never going to get much taller than around eight hands high – about the size of a sheep.

Haley had horses as a child growing up at Crookwell, in the Upper Lachlan Shire, and at age 40, was living her best life with her husband Ben and their three children.

“We were out with some friends for dinner and they were talking about Winx,” she said. “I asked who Winx was and they all fell over laughing. About a month later the pony was born and I decided to call her Winx because she was the complete opposite of the racehorse.

“She comes into the house, she follows us around like a dog. I wasn’t aware of her dwarfism – but she had the biggest forehead I’ve ever seen when she was born and apparently that’s a sign of it.”

From day one, Winx showed she was a special girl. She gave Haley and her family and friends so much happiness that they wanted to spread the joy.

miniature pony with a finger on her nose

Winx when she was just weeks old. Photo: Adventures with Winx.

“I’ve always loved giving back to the community,” Haley said. “It fills my cup.

“When Winx was born we were all over her like a rash because she was so cute.

“I thought, why not introduce her to other people? She had such a calm temperament.

“My husband converted the horse float, putting some special boards in there so she could travel safely and the first place we took her was the Uniting Care nursing home in Crookwell.” (And in case you were wondering about toilet breaks – Winx always goes before she leaves – and Haley has made her a special bag which fits under her tail, just in case).

Haley said she had been brought to tears by the way people of all ages had responded to Winx, whether visiting a nursing home, school or even a library.

“With some of the older residents, having her there reminds them of when they lived on the farm with their animals,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll cry, but it’s mostly because they’re so happy she’s there.

“Some of the residents are lonely because they don’t have visitors and to see the horse brings back memories … they love to talk about the days they rode their horses to school.

“Some people may be frightened at first, but you don’t force anyone to do anything – but they usually end up patting her.

“Mostly, she’s very well behaved, although she has been known to eat their food if you go visiting at lunchtime. But there was this one man once – I gave him some carrots to give her and he ate them,” she laughed.

Woman with tiny pony

Haley Snape and Winx make themselves at home at the Goulburn Library on a recent visit. Photo: Supplied.

“Winx also loves looking at herself if there’s a mirror around, she thinks there’s another horse in the room and neighs at herself.”

Haley said there was something about Winx’s visits that brought back good memories for some people, particularly those with dementia. “Sometimes she can really bring them out of their shells,” she said. “There have been times when people who are usually non-verbal just wake up.”

Haley and Winx regularly visit nursing homes – and even made a visit to the Goulburn Library. She doesn’t charge for the visits, although they can prove costly for her with transport and petrol – and getting Winx ready.

Pony and man at fence

Therapy horse Winx supervises Ben Snape as he repairs a fence at their Crookwell property. Photo: Supplied.

They are on a break at the moment while Winx has some dental work done, but they’re looking forward to getting back to “work”.

“She really is the best girl,” Haley said. “Although she does trot around like she owns the place; wherever she is, there’s not much she’s afraid of – she just loves everyone.”

For more information, go to the Adventures with Winx Facebook page.

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