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Equine Therapy To Go: Minis On The Move



Mellie the Mini decked out for the 4th of July

Holly’s son Carson with Mellie the Mini in the barn aisle

Mini Jake with his Therapy Horse pad
By Nancy Brannon

Unlike other equine therapy programs, where clients come to where the horses are, Minis on the Move travel to where the clients are. Founder of the program, Holly Walters Duckworth, brings the Minis to various locations where equine therapy can benefit young and old alike. Duckworth said that, originally, they wanted to start an equine therapy program at Saybrook Stables on N. Reid Hooker Road in Fisherville, TN. But there was so much competition from others, like Southern Reins and WarHorses for Heroes, so they decided on a different approach. “We already had the Minis,” she said, “so we decided to start taking them to places. My husband works at a nursing home, so that was a good place to start.”

“We started in 2016 with the paperwork and then started going places in 2017,” Duckworth said. In December 2019 the Minis traveled to Ava Maria Home where the holiday decorated equine brought lots of smiles and comfort to the elderly folks who live there. They have also traveled to Kirby Pines, St. Agnes School, and to preschools, such as SRVS Kids & Families Play, Do, Learn Preschool. The Minis evoke emotional connections with the people they visit. Their presence helps with physical and mental healing, bringing out love, joy, and laughter. Duckworth’s theme is that “the greatest things come in Mini packages.” The Minis even made the television news with their visit to the Play, Do, Learn Preschool.

The two Minis who are the foundation of the program are Mellie, an eight-year-old mare and her son (gelding) four-year-old Jake. Holly says they are trained not to kick if someone comes up behind them; there’s no biting, now pawing, and they’re not spooky. “They wear ‘poop bags’ so they can go into buildings,” Holly explained. “They’re like big puppy dogs to the folks we visit.”

The Minis go to places twice a month during the warmer weather months. “We go to private schools, nursing homes, and to a lot of assisted living facilities,” Holly said. Most of the time, folks call her to set up appointments for a visit. They don’t charge for the services, but do ask for donations.

The Minis are decorated for special events, like holidays. “The residents of the facilities where we take them really like the Minis, and we get thank you letters from families who are glad we brought them.”

The latest addition to the therapy animal team is Duncan, the Mini cow. Holly says he doesn’t like being out in the rain, so keeps to his comfy stall during inclement weather. And two sister cats have adopted Holly’s barn. Animals just seem to know where to find animal lovers!

If you are interested in having a visit from the Minis, find more information at or call Holly Duckworth at (901) 568-0998. Minis on the Move is a non-profit organization.

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