We’d like to introduce Victoria Nodiff-Netanel, the President and Executive Director of Mini Therapy Horses in Calabasas, California. Mini Therapy Horses is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit charity. The mini horses in this program visit over 50,000 children and adults in need each year across the United States. Victoria was kind enough to share her story with us today.
In 2008 I had a dream to combine my love of horses with my passion for helping people. I had no idea how or where to start, but I had many years of riding, competing, training, and loving everything to do with horses as my foundation.
I put one hoof in front of the other and Mini Therapy Horses was born along with a very special, little foal named Black Pearl. When I decide to do something, I give it 110 percent. This program became my world, as did my incredible volunteers and supporters.
Our 501(c)(3) non-profit charity grew quickly. We acquired more miniature therapy horses, and we found that we needed to be indoors for most of our visits with different programs, agencies, and hospitals.
The variety of floors and surfaces our minis were encountering prompted our search for secure, safe, and user-friendly boots. I tried everything, including modified baby and toddler shoes. My friend, Levon, repairs shoes and started to dread seeing me. He knew I was trying to remake a kid’s shoe to fit one of the horses. I would do tracings of the minis’ hooves and bring them into his shop for fittings. They never fit right!
We ordered the smallest miniature horse shoes that were available online and they were never small enough for our minis. I even tried all the different styles of Build-A-Bear shoes. I tried to make them smaller by adding more cushioning. They were wobbly and difficult to get on and off.
On May 1, 2016, I met Jon and Sarah Mae Smedley at an event. Jon and Sarah Mae are farriers and EasyCare product dealers. There on display was a vision from heaven, the new Easyboot Mini. Jon had samples of a few sizes, and we tried them on the horses right away. Pearl felt like Cinderella! It was a miracle. A boot that was truly designed for minis, was easy to get on and off, fit just right, and looked great… Finally, my struggles were over!
Mini Therapy Horses now has nine minis regularly visiting hospitals, schools, libraries, and homeless shelters. They wear their Easyboot Minis for all of their visits and events now.
These horses help people in crisis—from the survivors of the San Bernardino tragedy to the children staying at Ronald McDonald Houses while receiving critical medical procedures. The horses make weekly visits to the patients at The Greater Los Angeles Veterans Hospital and have fulfilled last wish requests. All of the minis are registered law enforcement therapy horses at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Civilian Volunteer Program. They are on-call 24/7 as members of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Crisis Response Team, providing comfort to those involved in traumatic incidents. The minis can be called upon as first responders at a moment’s notice.
This will be our fourth year participating in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Our miniature horses walk a total of seven miles in this parade wearing their Easyboot Minis. The boots are long-lasting, and after we brush them off they always look new! Our minis are comfortable, their hooves are protected, and they look fantastic during the long parade.
Thank you, EasyCare, for creating the best possible boot for our wonderful miniature therapy horses!
We’re so pleased the Easyboot Mini works so well for your horses. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Victoria. And thank you for all the work that you, your volunteers, and the mini horses do every day.
This program is amazing!! I’m sure having one of these horses come into a hospital room brings much happiness; just reading about it brought a smile to my face. I will be looking for these minis in the parade this year for sure. Thank you for sharing your story!
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