AN abused and neglected Shetland pony that was rescued and given a new lease of life has been bringing joy to care home residents.

The Princess Akasipi made a visit to Pendine Park’s Gwern Alyn care home in Wrexham as part of an animal therapy session.

The nine-year-old mare was in a bad way when she was rescued two and a half years ago by the TherAmals animal therapy centre in Bangor-on-Dee.

She was suffering from an excruciatingly painful condition called laminitis where the bones of her feet had pushed through her soles.

Victoria Bowkett, owner of the centre, said: “Princess Akasipi was in a bad state when she was rescued. She was quite sick. She’s suffered neglect and abuse.

“She’s got something called laminitis where there is too much sugar in their diet and the bones in her feet have actually pushed through the soles of her feet. It’s very painful so we do have to watch what she eats.

“She’s remarkably comfortable around people now. Indoors she’s soft, she’s cheeky, but when we’re out she’s a little firecracker.

“We do a lot of animal therapy. It makes such a big difference to our clients. It helps people relax. We also get a lot of interaction with a lot of people who don’t normally speak. They won’t interact with people but they will interact with Princess Akasipi. They’ll talk to her.

“People form a bond with the animals, and in a very short space of time as well. We’ve got rabbits and we have a lady who hasn’t spoken in five years and she spoke to one of them. So that was absolutely incredible. It blew me away.

“We have over 80 animals at the centre. We’ve got lizards, hedgehogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, cats, horses, chinchillas, spiders, snakes, tortoises, turtles, all sorts.

“It’s lovely here at Pendine Park. It’s one of the nicer places we visit.

Gwern Alyn care home resident Joyce Jones said: “The pony is beautiful. She has a lovely nature, and she’s very patient.

“It’s amazing when you think about how she has been neglected and abused. I don’t know how people can be so cruel to animals. It breaks your heart.

“She’s so pretty and in wonderful condition now. She’s obviously being well looked after.

“I was looking forward to this visit very much. It’s nice to see an animal. We have dogs coming in occasionally.

“The staff her at Pendine Park are all very good. They’re all very kind.”

Pendine Park activities coordinator Yvonne Moran said: “Animal therapy is is something that has been a regular feature at Pendine Park over the years and it is always a big hit.

“The fact that the pony can actually come into the home is brilliant for us. So it’s worked out perfectly. The residents have been very excited. They’ve been looking forward to this visit very much.

“We’ve got residents who used to ride horses and had ponies of their own. There are a lot of animal lovers here. It’s something relaxing for the residents.

“Princess Akasipi is beautiful, and to think she’s been rescued as well. to think that she is so trusting and is so comfortable around people without getting stressed out is amazing really, and all credit to the care that she has had.”

Manager Jen Roberts was delighted to welcome the furry friends to Gwern Alyn.

She said: “A wide range of activities are an integral part of every day life at Pendine Park as part of our drive to ensure we enrich the lives of our residents and staff alike.

“It was truly wonderful to see the joy the animals brought to our residents and the beaming smiles they generated.”