Tiny airport ‘therapy horses’ should revolutionize business travel

Business travel can be stressful, but it may get a lot better if many airports follow the lead of the visionaries running the Cincinnati airport.

Twice a month, passengers can interact with miniature therapy horses from Seven Oaks Farm in Ohio at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport through the Refresh program.

The program’s existence was first reported by NPR.

Owner Lisa Moad told NPR about how the horses make visitors feel in the interview.

She said they’ve told her “that it made them feel much better, kind of calmed down, took a deep breath. A lot of them thank us for being there at that time because they needed that little bit of support before they get on the plane,” Moad told the media outlet.

But the animals don’t seem to get freaked out by all the attention— they’ve reportedly been through training to stay calm and friendly towards people, even in crowds.

Moad’s nonprofit started with three horses named Tess, Lily and Lucky, who would greet visitors on the farm.

The benefits of therapy animals

Therapy animals can change not only travel anxiety, but a host of other emotions.

Mayo Clinic reported that using animals for therapy can majorly reduce pain, depression, anxiety and fatigue for many people in stressful situations: kids getting dental work, cancer patients, patients undergoing long-term care, people with persistent heart failure and veterans experiencing PTSD. Pet therapy also helps people in local initiatives and institutes of higher education.

Jane E. Brody wrote about her dog Max, who completed a program with the Good Dog Foundation and went on to be a therapy dog, in a 2016 New York Times article.

“Pet therapy most often involves privately owned animals – usually dogs, but also cats, rabbits, even kangaroos, birds, fish and reptiles – that their owners take to facilities to enhance the well-being of temporary or permanent residents. Thus, in addition to relieving the monotony of a hospital stay or entertaining residents in a nursing home, Max might visit a school where young children wary of reading aloud will happily read to a dog that does not care about mistakes,” Brody wrote.

Therapy animals can really help take the edge off— whether you’re about to take off at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, or your have medical concerns that have you in need of cheering up.