BOISE, Idaho (KIVI/KNIN) - A miniature therapy horse, that wears a fedora, is quite the celebrity at an Idaho hospital.
When 8-year-old Baxter, dressed from his hat to his boots, struts into a room, people notice. When his handler, Brian Hohstadt, got Baxter at the age of 3, he was “wild,” he says.
In just 14 months, he got a perfect score on his pet therapy evaluation, which allows him to go into places like Sain Al’s to give patients a few minutes to forget whatever they’re going through.
“I think almost everybody has some type of a connection to an animal, may have been a dog when they were a kid or whatever,” Hohstadt said. “Everybody has a connection and it just gives them a few minutes just to kind of disconnect.”
Brian said he has seen the results of how powerful pet therapy can be firsthand, so he tries to make the 3-hour one-way journey from La Grande to Saint Al’s every other Friday.
It’s not just the patients who are transfixed by the 125 pound, 26-inch miniature gelding.
“I have surgeons follow me down hallways taking video,” Hohstadt said.
Hohstadt retired from his job early with the hopes of being able to do pet therapy. He does it mostly with his own funds, and last year alone, he made 300 visits to different organizations in the area.
It requires long days, especially when you’re as in demand as Baxter. But even so, Hohstadt said it’s worth it.
“The feedback we get and the response we see,” he said, “is just unbelievable.”