Miniature horse joins therapy animal team at Methodist Hospital

Bambi is the first hospital-based horse in the state of Texas.

SAN ANTONIO – What’s got four hooves, a long tail, a snazzy vest, and matching pink bows? Methodist Hospital’s newest employee, Bambi the miniature therapy horse!

“(Bambi) makes hospital visits to patients and just kind of gets their morals up and spirit since she’s at the hosp-- they’re at the hospital,” said Alexa Farris, Bambi’s handler and ER manager for Methodist Hospital.

Bambi does her job well. From older patients to young kids, even the doctors and nurses in between, Bambi spreads joy.

She’s the first hospital-based therapy horse in our state and works alongside three full-time therapy dogs.

But we’re all asking the same question here -- why a mini horse?

“This pandemic, it was very, very hard on everyone, including the health care workers, the patients coming into the hospital, the visitors coming into the hospital,” Farris said. “And we were just trying to see, ‘OK, what can we do to brighten up people’s spirits?’”

Seeing the unexpected has physical benefits as well, like lowering blood pressure and reducing physical pain.

Bambi has been working for two months now. Farris hopes she’ll pave the way for other animals to join their fleet.

“There can be pigs as therapy animals. There can be many other therapy animals out there. And I think she just shows that it doesn’t just have to be a dog that brings light into someone’s eyes,” Farris said.

Bambi is still young, only four-years-old, so she doesn’t have a set schedule yet. If you see her around, feel free to give her a pat.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.