Gentle animals have a way of making people feel wanted and loved. Their innate innocence and unabashed loyalty tend to elicit feelings of joy and comfort, even during times of strife. Remarkably, most animals continue to express warm and caring emotions toward people, even if they have experienced abuse and mistreatment in their lives.
Matt Brown understands this sentiment all too well.
In 2009, Matt learned about a situation in which 84 horses were found mistreated on a nearby farm. A group of volunteers and law enforcement personnel took possession of the horses and brought them to Nashville to begin recovery.
“As soon as I learned about the horses, I knew that I wanted to help,” says Matt. “At the time, I worked for TriStar Skyline, and every day after my shift, I went to help take care the horses.”
After the horses were safely adopted, Matt realized that he wanted to continue to help with other rescue situations. Subsequently, he joined Gallatin-based Volunteer Equine Advocates in order to continue his rescue work.
During a 2015 rescue, Matt fell in love with one of the horses, a small 20-year-old Falabella pony with a gentle and loving nature.
“I adopted him right away, and I named him Little Man,” says Matt. “There was just something special about him and how he was able to put everyone at ease.”
In 2022, Matt had an idea. Now working at TriStar Hendersonville, he wanted to bring a horse to the hospital to serve as a therapy pony. He began by bringing a horse to the hospital grounds, but he soon realized that he could do more for patients by taking a horse inside the facility. After all, he just happened to have the perfect horse – Little Man.
“Since we began our visits, the patient response has been tremendous,” says Matt. “Seeing Little Man makes them feel that they have a friend.”
Going forward, Matt plans to continue to bring the pony for patient visits whenever possible.
“Seeing patients open their eyes and smile when Little Man visits makes everything worthwhile,” says Matt. “The joy that he brings to our patients is priceless.”